CREATING SAFE SPACES TOWARDS A GENDER EQUAL WORLD AND AN END TO VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN_

July 21, 2023

Actors in gender equality generally do a great job. Imagine if there was more collaboration, prioritizing communities in these partnerships, and an evidence-based approach. Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE) recognizes that fostering sisterhood and solidarity necessitates the inclusion of women and girls and commits to harnessing their collective potential. This is one of the highest forms of women’s empowerment and yet more still needs to be done.

It is important that gender-sensitive laws and policies are enacted and in particular those addressing sexual and gender-based violence. However, beyond the enactment of these laws and policies, all stakeholders must ensure that they are implemented. Many countries, including Uganda, are well known for having excellent gender-responsive legislation but are a “far cry” in terms of implementation. Suffice to mention that in many cases these laws becoming unimplementable as they are not accompanied by the requisite regulations and finances.

Insecurities against women in all their forms deeply harm women, families, communities, and economies. While many countries have established programs to end violence against women, the fast-changing context with the coming of sophisticated technology that accelerates online violence against women, and deeply engrained attitudes and practices slow progress towards violence-free communities. The influx of safety issues for women should be taken seriously.

As the Women Deliver conference goes on, we continue to see horrendous news on social media about the cruel circumstance of women who have fallen victim to abuse and even femicide. In Nairobi-Kenya, a woman was forced to take justice into her own hands when her three-year-old daughter was raped for the second time by a man who received a one-year prison sentence for raping the same child when she was two years of age. It is the reaction of the community towards this woman that was staggering as she was targeted for defending her own child. In West Africa, another man murdered his girlfriend and kept her body for a week till he was caught. The same man has since been tweeting and getting sympathy from society for his mental state since murdering a woman.

We have a very long way to go as far as creating safe spaces for women and ending violence against women and girls if we do not treat it with the urgency that it deserves. It takes a village to end violence. The fight to end violence against women and girls is universal and continuing. All hands ought to be on deck to accelerate the fight against this vice. FOWODE’s contribution to the discourse on SGBV is through campaigning for national budgets to resource in full the prevention of violence against women and girls.

Violence against women undermines women’s leadership and impacts negatively on women’s social, political and economic empowerment. We have done a ground-breaking study on Budgeting for Peace that provides an accurate situational analysis of the gains and gaps in budgeting for peace especially for women and girls. It digs into the nature and trends of VAWG related funding and programming and the cost benefit analysis of budgeting for the elimination of VAWG. Furthermore, we capacitate communities to be at the forefront of the fight against VAWG and join others to challenge social norms that justify and tolerate Violence Against Women.

In order to sustain this work, FOWODE has embarked on an exciting initiative, the establishment of the Imara Women’s Centre. Through the Centre, FOWODE is determined to provide grassroots women organizers with what they most seek; a place of their own. It will be women’s own space, designed by them, run by them, tailored to their needs; a safe haven from coercion and pressure, from insecurities. It will be a safe space to recoup. We must create safe spaces; towards a gender-equal world

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