During the first six months of 2017, an Irish Aid supported programme with the Government of Uganda, helped over 1500 people access GBV shelter services. Civil cases were filed in the courts, families went through mediation processes and women were given emergency accommodation. Irish Aid has worked with the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development in Uganda over the last seven years to establish this Joint Transition Programme to address GBV in the Busoga region.
District leaders are enthusiastic about the Programme which has transformed the lives of thousands of women. "Before the safe shelter facilities came to be for us in Namutumba, I was deeply troubled by the experiences of GBV that were brought to my attention", says Samuel Luwanga, District Community Development Officer (DCDO) in Namutumba. Explaining why this Programme is so important Samuel said"If there is an unresolved conflict in a homestead, there will be no productivity in this home. Will the children be able to go to school? With children growing up in such situation of violence, what kind of citizens will we have in future as a nation? ... The approach of safe shelters … involves many neutral actors to find lasting solutions to the persistent GBV problems in our homes, and promote cohesion among the people. It will most definitely help change mind-sets in the society”.
The Story of Alice
When her husband became violent and threatened to kill her, Alice (whose name has been changed) on the advice of a neighbour, went to seek help at the Ugandan Women’s Network (UWONET), one of the Irish Aid partners implementing the joint programme with the Government of Uganda. Alice’s husband had not only become violent but had also stopped providing money for his family meaning that Alice and her children had no access to medical services and the children could not go to school. Through the help of mediation services that Alice and her husband were involved in, the situation for the couple now is much better. “I was living in constant fear, fear for my life. He was so violent that as soon as he set foot in the community the entire neighbourhood would be aware of his presence. But now we are living a more normal life, the violence has stopped and the children are now back in school. He often sends financial support … about hundred thousand Uganda shillings a month and it is up to me to see how to best utilize the money” said Alice. Her life has improved. "Yes I am happy, and I am truly grateful to this women's organization for all that they did for me and the children”.
Gender equality and women’s empowerment is at the core of Ireland’s International Development Programme, One World, One Future. We believe that gender equality is a prerequisite to development and we are committed to developing and supporting gender-responsive programming and policy.
The Sustainable Development Goals, agreed by the Global community in 2015, include one specifically on achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls. Goal number 5, contains targets on ending all forms of violence and harmful practices against women and girls.
One World, One Future identifies gender-based violence (GBV) as a fundamental abuse of human rights. The term, GBV, describes acts of sexual violence, physical violence and harmful traditional practices.
One in three women worldwide experience physical and/or sexual violence. This can have a serious impact on the health and well-being of survivors with long-lasting physical and psychological effects. Fear of GBV can often inhibit women’s participation in decision-making and leadership. The prevalence of GBV is also particularly high at times of humanitarian emergencies, especially in times of conflict, when normal systems of protection are often undermined.
As a result, Irish Aid has prioritised policy development, funding and research to address GBV.