Wednesday, December 19, 2012

ACFODE Life Skills Training In Kisoro District Enlightens Women and Girls on Gender and Gender Roles

From the 11th to the 14th of December 2012, ACFODE carried out Life Skills training sessions in Kisoro district, at sub county level. The trainings were based on the premise that women and girls are usually the victims of different forms of violence ranging from direct physical aggression through beatings, rape, defilement, forced and early marriages, to emotional violence, which usually manifests through paternal refusal to pay school fees, denial of paternity to a child, and eviction from home, among others.

The trainings targeted varied categories of young women in the community, including head girls of schools, female youth leaders and child mothers with the aim of empowering them to be able to cope adequately within their different spheres in society by raising awareness on gender and gender roles, as well as equipping them with relevant economic skills.

A cross section of participants in Busanza Sub County making 
re-usable sanitary pads during a training session

The participants, who came from 37 different villages in Busanza and Nyakabande sub-counties, were taken through sessions to furnish them with deeper understanding of the concept of gender and gender roles. These sessions brought to light the fact that girls in the district generally carry a heavier work load and do not enjoy the same privileges and rights as their male counter parts.

As a result of the sessions, the participants were able to highlight unfair, stereotypical gender roles in their communities that are 'man-made' and can therefore be revised in favor of women and girls.

The diverse interactions also highlighted the pertinent need for awareness about HIV/AIDS and skills development among the women in the community. Participants were also equipped with skills in making reusable sanitary pads.

The women and girls in both villages were also encouraged by their leadership, to adopt safer mechanisms for their domestic practices and to be more confident in their interactions in society in order to achieve their desired goals. Ms. Ntakirutimana Christine, the Sub County Chief of Nyakabande said in her speech, ‘One has to speak with her head held high so that people understand and believe in what she says. Females are lucky that they are easily trusted so we, the women, need to utilize that opportunity.’

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Action for Development (ACFODE), an indigenous, voluntary, non-governmental women’s organization with support from EIRENE paid a visit to Luzira women's prison on 14th December 14, 2012. The visit, which was part of the broader theme for the annual 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence, aimed at promoting solidarity for harmonious existence and peace by connecting with the female inmates through the sharing of in-kind donations and a verbal message of hope.

ACFODE Chair Person Gertrude Ssekabira hands over donations to some of the female inmates at Luzira prisons

In collaboration with various women leaders, human and women right activists, corporate companies, representatives from civil society and development partners, ACFODE donated a number of basic necessities to the female inmates, including; bathing/washing soap, sanitary pads, cotton wool, and toilet tissue, toothpaste, teeth brushes and Vaseline among others..

Backed by the statutes in gender sensitive laws such as "The Prisons Act 2006" which outlines the rights and privileges of female prison inmates to special care for their specific reproductive needs, for instance, the right to healthier meals for pregnant and breast feeding female inmates, the visit further sought to challenge the current dire circumstances faced by Uganda's female prison inmates who live in overwhelmingly poor conditions, and also lack basic necessities. 

A Representative from Mukwano Group of Companies handing over some of their donations to the female inmates

The donations, which were handed over to the inmates by the ACFODE Chair Person Gertrude Ssekabira, Executive Director Regina Bafaki and partner organization representatives were warmly received by the prison ward who remarked that the gifts received were timely and relevant to their needs. She added that, "These are the women inmates; some of them are guilty, some of them are innocent, but they are all reformed."

A message of hope was also delivered to the inmates by Ms. Betty Byanyima, a women's rights activist, who urged the inmates to be optimistic about their future, take advantage of their opportunities while in prison to further their education and skills, and be a source of positive energy to those around them. She said, "You should go back to school within the prison or learn some new economic skills from each other so that when the time comes for you to go back into society, you can make a positive difference."

The ladies drew further encouragement from the ACFODE Chair Person, who emphasized in her speech that each of the women inmates deserved and would be given a second chance to correct all their past mistakes. She urged the women to seek peace while in their current situation for the sake of societal improvement, saying "when you give peace to a woman, you give peace to her children, her family and to the nation."

Members of the delegation carrying some of the donations to the vehicle before departure

In light of the successful interactive activity, ACFODE has gained better insight into the magnitude of the needs of the female inmates at Luzira prisons, and therefore calls on the government of Uganda to:

  • Fulfill international commitments government has made by ratifying different regional and international conventions such as The UN Rules for the Treatment of Women Prisoners and Non-custodial Measures for Women Offenders (2010) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (2008), which outline the rights of women prisoners.
  • Operationalize the specific needs of the women prisoners stipulated in the Uganda Prisons Act 2006.
  •  Step up funding for the national prisons budget to ensure conditions consistent with international standards set in the UN Standard Minimum Rules for Treatment of Prisoners, and provide sufficient provision for female prisoners' special reproductive needs.
  • Implement commitments made in existing legislative measures that protect the lives of people especially the vulnerable like women; for instance The Domestic Violence Act 3 (2010), Penal Code amendments prohibiting defilement of girls and boys (2007), and the Equal Opportunities Commission Act (2007).

 We also call upon the Uganda Prisons System to: 
  • Implement the sections that uphold the special reproductive needs of female     prisoners, enshrined in policies such as; The Prisons Act 2006.
  • Ensure access to prenatal, postnatal, and prevention of mother-to-child transmission of HIV (PMTCT) services and address the nutritional needs of pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers. 

 We call upon women leaders, human and women right activists, representatives from civil     society, media and other key stakeholders to:

  • Spearhead advocacy efforts against abuse of female prisoners, and provide support to supplement on the existing government efforts.
  • Lobby for the provision of legal services to the vulnerable who are prone to fall victim to the fallible legal system, winding up in jail without genuine cause.
  • Popularize the Prisons Act 2006 with more emphasis on the provisions that promote the well-being of women prisoners in Uganda.       

Saturday, December 8, 2012

ACFODE Call to End Violence Against Women

ACFODE would like to share a mini video call to end violence against women as the world celebrates 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence. Please click on the link below to view the video, and share it within your networks.

ACFODE Call to End Violence Against Women

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

ACFODE Trains Civil Society Actors in Lira on Good Governance and Gender Accountability

ACFODE in partnership with DIAKONIA conducted a Training of Trainers (TOT) for Civil Society Actors on Good Governance and Gender Accountability in Lira District from the 21st November to 22nd November, 2012. The TOT is one in a series of activities under the project: Contributing to the Enhancement of Democratic Governance and Gender Accountability at Local Level in Uganda.

The training brought together civil society actors from the districts of Apac, Oyam and Kole with the aim of enhancing capacity of civil society actors to promote good governance and gender accountability at local government level and to conduct grassroots civic education.
A cross section of the Civil Society Actors from Oyam District
during the training
As a result of the two day training, the CSO Actors were equipped with knowledge and skills on a number of topics including; the concepts of civic and adult education, understanding of governance, Gender and Accountability, Human rights and facilitation methods.
The participants found the training very relevant and helpful. Apio Theresa from Peace and Reconciliation Ministries Africa, a CBO in Apac said, “…this training is very good, people in the villages need to know about human rights, there is a lot of abuse going on down there and people do not know who to report to.”
The CSO Actors committed to returning to the communities in the sub counties to pass on the knowledge and skills they had gained in this training; in this way ACFODE hopes to realize a society where there is respect for women’s rights and citizens are empowered to demand accountability from their leaders.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

ACFODE Successfully Launches Violence Free Candle and Anti SGBV Publications

In light of this year's theme for 16 Days of Activism: From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let’s Challenge Militarism and End Violence Against Women! ACFODE hosted founders, members, staff, and beneficiaries, the media, the donor community, government representatives and civil society organizations in a  colourful celebration to launch the 16 Days of Activism and celebrate 27 years of gender activism at the ACFODE Secretariat on Friday 23rd November 2012.

The event served as a platform for the launch of ACFODE's latest publications developed to boost the fight against SGBV. They include; a "Policy Brief on Building Citizen's Resilience in Promoting Violence Free Families and Communities", and "The Power of the Pen", which is a magazine documenting stories of survivors of SGBV in some areas of ACFODE's operation, specifically, Apac and Oyam districts. The abridged version of the organization's new strategic plan for 2012-2016 was also unveiled at the event.

ACFODE Executive Director holds up
"The Power of the Pen" during the launch ceremony

In a show of solidarity, ACFODE founders, members, staff, and beneficiaries, the media, the donor community, government representatives and civil society organizations joined hands to light the "Violence Free Candle", a symbol of commitment to ending violence against women.

The proceedings were presided over by guest of honor Dr. Maxine Ankrah, a leading woman activist and founder member of ACFODE. 
Guest of Honor Maxine Ankrah, Executive Director Regina Bafaki and Chair Person  Gertrude Ssekabira
preside over the lighting of the Violence Free Candle

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

ACFODE Prepares 11 Districts for Local Governance Assessment and District Peer Review Mechanism

As one of the components under the project, "Action for Strengthening Good Governance and Accountability", Action for Development (ACFODE) together with implementing partner Konrad Adeneuer Stiftung (KAS) will next year conduct a local governance assessment and District Peer Review Mechanism (DPRM) in the 11 districts of project implementation aimed at assessing the state of democratic governance at the local level with specific emphasis on democratic values and principles, good governance, accountability and human rights and rule of law.
The DPRM will actively involve stakeholders from the district and will consist of a self-assessment together with a peer review among the districts through exchange visits. 

In preparation for the above activities, 4 regional training workshops for selected participants from civil society and local councils from the districts of Jinja, Pallisa and Soroti in the East; Kabale, Kisoro, Mbarara in the West; Arua, Pader, Lira in the North and Kiboga as well as Masaka in the Central region were conducted in the month of November. 
Associate Professor Yasin Olum facilitates a session during the Northern Region training workshops for the Assessors who will conduct the local governance assessment and DPRM

Through these workshops, targeted civil society actors and local councilors who had been trained earlier in this project were prepared for the task of conducting a local governance assessment which will take place in January 2013.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

ACFODE Facilitates National Level Inter-Institutional Debate Tournament

As Uganda celebrated its Jubilee celebrations, ACFODE in partnership with Konrad Adenuer Stiftung (KAS) organized Inter Institutional Debate Competitions which ran from 12th-13th October 2012 at Nob View Hotel, Ntinda with the final round being held at Hotel Africana during the Award Giving Ceremony.  
Kyambogo University Students pose for a photo with the ACFODE executive director (Ms.Regina Bafaki), Hon. Gerald Karuhanga (Youth MP western region) and the ACFODE board member (MS.Florence Muhwezi)

The thrilling Debate Competition under the theme “Uganda at 50; Promoting Youth Activism towards Gender Equality and Good Governance” was conducted using the British Parliamentary Debate Format with the aim of building the capacity of youth in higher institutions of learning on Gender Equality, Functional Democracy, Human Rights and Good Governance. It tackled pertinent issues like Human Rights, Gender Equality and Youth Activism. 

The national level debates were a climax to all the debate tournaments that ACFODE has held since 2010 .These tournaments have been held in the 4 regions of Uganda and have brought together various tertiary institutions. The national level debates brought together outstanding debaters from some of the institutions that have participated in these tournaments, including; Makerere University, Makerere University Business School, Uganda Christian University Mukono, Kampala International University,  Nkumba University, Gulu University, Unyama National Teachers College Gulu, Mutolere Nursing School Kisoro, Bishop Stuart University Mbarara, Kabale National teachers college and Kyambogo University.

The finals, which were held at Hotel Africana and presided over by Mr. Fagil Mandy, saw one of the Kyambogo University teams emerging winners of the competition and Gulu University coming in second place.  

ACFODE Takes The Gospel Of Peace To Primary Schools

From September 21st to October 22nd, Action for Development (ACFODE), an indigenous, voluntary, non-governmental women’s organization with support from EIRENE conducted a number of activities in commemoration of the World Peace Day celebrated on the 21st of September annually. Facilitating Awareness Workshops on Peace in Primary Schools was one of the activities.
Art works drawn by pupils from Kawempe Mbogo Primary School
to represent their understanding of peace

The awareness workshops sought to “inculcate a culture of peace among the children.” Ten schools around Kampala namely; Nakivubo Primary School, Kisasa Primary School, Ggaba Model Primary School, Pic Hill Primary School, Kawempe Mbogo Primary School, Police Children Primary School, Cornerstone Primary School, Nakibuvo Settlement Primary School, Kyagwe Road Primary School and, Namirembe Infants Primary School partnered with ACFODE in this initiative.

The workshops particularly targeted pupils from classes 4, 5, and 6 who comprised of the prefect body, class monitors, and abused children who were identified by the teachers. Three hundred and eighty four children in total benefitted from this intervention, which engaged them in a number of creative activities including; Storytelling, creation of own artworks, music, dance and drama, and plenary discussions on peace.

The plenary sessions answered several questions regarding peace, including; the definition of peace, causes of conflict and the process of conflict resolution, among others. Pupils were also encouraged to draw creative art pieces representing peace, an exercise that resulted in explicit works of art that depicted a clear understanding on the pupils’ part, of the concept of peace that they were learning about.

At the end of the trainings, participants were awarded with a Certificates of Completion (Peace Ambassadors). In the near future, ACFODE will be making follow-up visits to find out how the Ambassadors are making use of the acquired knowledge in terms of preaching the gospel of peace in their schools, homes and communities.

ACFODE Reviews Good Governance And Gender Accountability In Lango Sub Region

Action for Development (ACFODE), with support from DIAKONIA, facilitated review meetings on good governance and gender accountability in Lango sub region from 15th to 18th October 2012 under the theme: Promoting Good Governance and Gender Accountability at local level.
A session during the review process

Dialogues with district councilors from Apac, Oyam and Kole districts in northern Uganda during the review process enabled ACFODE to identify several factors that have contributed to the increase in gender inequalities in the districts. They included; poor monitoring of local government development programs by the technical personnel and council executives, failure to integrate sub-county development priorities into the district development plans, low levels of education among women councilors who are supposed to contribute effectively in influencing gender related ordinances, early marriages, bureaucracy in passing ordinances, inadequate funding allocated to gender responsive programs, poor attitudes of some district leaders towards gender promotion, lack of political will, difficulty in accessing legal policy documents by councilors e.g. Local Government Act and difficulty in the interpretation of laws.

The dialogues served as a platform for reform in as much as they led to a number of positive outcomes including;
Commitments of the Councilors from Apac District

Commitment by elected Councilors to work with focal gender persons in the districts to ensure that gender issues are incorporated into district development programmes.

Vows by elected Councilors to develop gender responsive ordinances, for example, in Oyam the ordinance on safe deliveries for mothers was formulated, while Councilors in Apac proposed to allocate 10% of its FY 2013-3014 district budget towards economic empowerment of women and Girl Child Education.

Pledges by Councilors to push for the speedy approval of District Service Commission by the ministry of Public Service in order to facilitate the recruitment of more personell,  sensitize the electorate on the budget process and network with NGOs and CBOs to provide reference materials on gender.

ACFODE Engaging Women In Public Administration For Advocacy And Effective Representation

The continuous and persistent efforts to have women participate on the political scene have somewhat unintentionally left women in public administration on the periphery. Organizations rarely engage these influential women on numerous issues including identification of gender issues especially those that perpetuate gender inequalities despite the fact that they are strategically positioned to influence the change we want to see.

A cross section of the participants from Pader and Dokolo districts 
sharing thoughts and experiences

While conducting dialogues for women in public institutions including departments and sectors in the districts of Dokolo, Pader and Namutumba from the 12th -18th October 2012, ACFODE realized that through continuous mentorship of women administrators, the diverse challenges and constraints that impact on their effective representation could easily be addressed through drawing advocacy strategy plans. The dialogues brought together women in managerial positions from all the districts. They included Sub County Chiefs, Community Development Officers, NAADS officers, Gender officers, headmistresses and in-charges of health centers among other key participants.

Some of the challenges reiterated that impact on their level of participation and representation as women administrators included continuous discrimination and unfairness in employment and budgetary allocations, sabotage, sexual harassment, insubordination, consistent stereotyping arising out of social/cultural expectation among others. Coping mechanisms adopted such as assertiveness, continuous affirmation of their rights and freedoms and claiming for their space are yet to yield the intended results.

The dialogues provided a platform and an environment for experiential learning and building synergies which culminated in 3 forums created in the three districts for women in public administration.  The forums will be of significance for, among other causes, championing advocacy issues especially those that affect their effective representation.

Acfode Trains Schools On Gbv Prevention And Response In Northern Uganda

ACFODE with support from UWONET/UNFPA under the 7th GOU country programme carried out Gender Based Violence (GBV) prevention and response trainings, targeted toward schools in selected areas of northern Uganda including Kotido, Moroto, Kaabong and Katakwi.
Participants during a GBV prevention and response training in
northern Uganda

PTAs, student leaders, BOG and students from 12 schools in the region were taken through sessions which aimed to sensitize the students on ways of identifying and reporting school-related GBV incidents, and also help school administrators to identify their roles and responsibilities in the fight against GBV in schools. The schools that participated in the training included; Kaabong S.S, Pope Paul Memorial High School, Jubilee 2000 S.S Karema, Kotido S.S, Kotido Parents Advanced School, Moroto High School, Nanduget S.S,  Moroto Parents Standard Academy, Katakwi S.S, Usuk S.S, Ogoneja S.S and St. Peters Comprehensive S.S.S.

As a result of the trainings, school administrators were empowered with better understanding of their responsibilities in regard to GBV. The participating schools also formed GBV clubs in a bid to cultivate a culture of raising awareness on GBV related issues in their local communities.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

ACFODE wins Women Achievers Award 2012 for Outstanding Women’s Organization

In recognition for her commitment to promoting women’s rights in Uganda, Action For Development (ACFODE) – an indigenous, voluntary, non-governmental women’s organization was given the Women Achievers Award 2012 for her “Contributions in Enhancing Women’s Empowerment and Sustaining the Women’s Movement in Uganda.”

ACFODE's Executive Director Ms. Regina Bafaki with the Award. 

The Award was given by Uganda Women’s Network (UWONET) on behalf of the women of Uganda during the National Women’s Week Jubilee Celebrations.
ACFODE founders, members and staff therefore take this opportunity to extend their most sincere thanks to UWONET and to all the women and men of Uganda for nominating and believing in ACFODE's mandate.
Words cannot even express how happy we are!! Consequently, we promise to continue promoting women’s rights until gender equality is a reality in Uganda since we have been inspired to work harder.

Other ACFODE Staff celebrating the Award

Below are some of ACFODE’s contributions/ milestones to the Ugandan Women’s Movement over the years;

  • ACFODE has existed for the last 27 Years and has consistently advocated for Women’s Rights since 1985 despite many challenges.
  • ACFODE Contributed greatly to efforts that resulted in the establishment of the Ministry of Women in Development under the president’s office in 1998.
  • ACFODE advocated for the inclusion of the Affirmative Action in the 1995 Constitution and other gender-related human rights provisions appearing in the preamble, in the National Objectives and Directive Principles of State policy i.e.  Article 78 and 180, Article 78 (1) (b), and Article 180 (2).
  • ACFODE through the link programme was able to gather and connect the CA legislators with the citizens and hence contributed to the constitution making process.
  • Since inception, ACFODE has trained and motivated many women to compete for leadership position both at local and national levels for instance; more than 50,000 women have been equipped with leadership skills
  • ACFODE has worked with more than 30 institutions of Higher Learning in Uganda to promote the Gender Equality Agenda and Good Governance among the youth.
  • ACFODE has given birth/ contribution to the formation of other women/human rights organistaions such as UWONET, UDN, UNGOF, HURINET among others.
  • Visibility of the women’s cause in the mainstream media; as early as 1991, ACFODE lobbied and secured a weekly Women’s Page in the government newspaper, The New Vision to cover women’s issues.  
  • ACFODE pioneered the Women’s Magazine i.e. The Arise in 1991 and has since been a women’s advocacy Magazine that enables Ugandans to share their views about different Gender Issues. Other organizations have since then followed suit (Public and Private). 
  • The establishment of the Department of women studies at Makerere University in 1991 was a result of ACFODE’s lobbying efforts with the University Women’s Association. Today it is the Makerere School of Gender Studies.
  • In 1993, ACFODE worked closely with other organizations and was hence instrumental in establishing the National Association of Women Organizations in Uganda (NAWOU) - an independent umbrella body for all women NGOs.
  • ACFODE spearheaded the advocacy for the enactment of the Equal Opportunities Commission in 2007 by coordinating a Coalition of 22 CSOs.

Compiled by Sandra Nassali
Public Relations & Communications Officer
Action For Development

Thursday, September 20, 2012

KIU takes the spotlight during ACFODE's Central Region Debate Tournament

How can a member of Government state that gender equality should be emphasized instead of affirmative action? In saying this, Government has failed to realize that affirmative action is a component of gender equality, once you cater for affirmative action; you are taking care of gender equality. This is why as opposition we are saying that affirmative action should not be scrapped noted Kilenga Joseph Africa –Deputy Leader of opposition final debate.

Women who go to the Parliament on the woman MP seat are always under looked by their male counter parts .Unlike those who go on the direct seat who are even more respected and their views are listened to. It is for this reason that we are proposing that affirmative action should be scrapped; answred back Esther Nasseke – the Prime minister for the final debate round.

A team brainstorming on ideas before a debate round.

These were some of the numerous arguments that were raised on  Day 2 of the inter institutional central region debate tournament organized by ACFODE with support from Konrad Adenauer Stiftung. The competition was held at Nob view hotel, Ntinda between the 7th and 8th of September 2012. The theme of the debate tournament was: Gender equality and Good Governance.  The debates used the British Parliamentary format and brought together students from 5 institutions of higher learning namely; Ndejje University, Kampala International University, Makerere University Business School, Nkumba University and Muteesa 1 Royal University.

One of the female debaters fronting her opinion.

The inter-institutional debate approach is a strategy that ACFODE  has used since 2010 promotes to engage youth in discussing and understanding gender issues in relation to good governance in Uganda. Through this approach, students' capacity to research, analyze gender issues, and to lobby are enhanced. The September tournament covered a range of motions like;

  • This house should abolish the woman seat in Parliament,
  • This house believes the youth movement has failed gender equality
  • This house would recognize cohabitation as marriage
  • This house believes that economic growth is more important than gender equality
  • This house will legalize prostitution
  • This house believes that girls who get pregnant is school should be expelled and;
  • This house will scrap off Affirmative action. 
Throughout the debate rounds, some students exhibited good argumentation skills while others needed improvement as their arguments  were riddled with fallacies. For instance, while debating the motion “This house believes the youth movement has failed gender equality,” most students understood the youth movement as comprising only youth organizations. Therefore, as the debates ensued, those who had not researched well or had loop holes in their arguments were dropped in favour of those who were good at putting their points forward.

During the award giving ceremony, ACFODE's Executive Director  Ms Regina Bafaki thanked the debaters for fully committing to the activity. She expressed her appreciation for the level of debating that was exhibited by the debaters. While addressing the debaters, Ms. Bafaki noted that“If all Parliamentarians had passed through this process before going to the parliament, they would be making better deliberations and policies while in Parliament.”

The debaters thanked ACFODE for having reached out to the them as this enabled them have a clear picture of what women organizations like ACFODE are doing as regards promotion of gender equality through policy formulation, research, advocacy, mentoring, and capacity building. They noted that participating in this innovative activity had enabled them to understand how debating nurtures one into a good leader by imparting on them various skills. They hence vowed to become gender advocates in their institutions and to set up active debate clubs in order to carry on the debating culture.

To view a pictorial of the whole event; please click on the link below;

Daphine Agaba
Programs Assistant
Action For Development