SEPTEMBER 26, 2009: Women Seek Gender Recovery Plan

Women Seek Gender Recovery Plan


By Wambi Michael

Kampala — After two decades of war during which thousands of children were used as child soldiers and many women raped, Northern Uganda's recovery plan is to be spent on building roads rather than helping the country's most vulnerable.

Civil society and women parliamentarians are not happy with the government and donors, as there are no concrete measures to meet gender-related concerns over the recovery plan for Northern Uganda.

The over 600 million dollar Peace, Recovery and Development Plan (PRDP) - of which was 70 percent sponsored by donors and the remained by the Ugandan government - was designed to stabilise and bridge the economic disparities between Northern Uganda and the rest of the country.

Most of the money, to be spent over three years, is to be used to construct feeder roads and infrastructure destroyed during the war.

And while roads were needed, the needs of the women also needed to be met, said Oyam District Member of Parliament, Amongi Beatrice Lagada. "The women took on so many burdens during the war. So unless we recognise those gender roles we shall not restore the gender perspectives which were there before," she said.

An estimated 30,000 to 66,000 children were abducted during the 20 years of conflict. About 90 percent of the LRA ranks were populated by children forced to terrorise civilians by cutting off hands and lips, among other atrocities.

A study conducted by United Nations Children's Fund in 2005 in one of the Pabo displaced-persons camp found that at least 60 percent of women there had suffered sexual or domestic violence.

Monica Amonding, coordinator of The Uganda Women Parliamentarians' Association (UWOPA), says the PRDP has no budget to resettle single mothers, female-headed households, widows, formerly abducted girls, women with disabilities and other vulnerable groups.

Amonding said many war-affected women, girls and boys had resorted to begging in streets in urban centres because they had not been assisted to cope with life after two decades of war.

The Women's Task Force on a Gender-Responsive Peace, Recovery and Development Plan, and UWOPA say the war affected women and men differently, because of gender advantages or disadvantages.

They say women and girls have suffered from brutal levels of sexual and gender-based violence that increased their vulnerability to HIV/Aids. But the recovery programme lacks interventions to alleviate the plight of women.

Beatrice Anywar, a woman MP from Kitgum district on the Uganda-Sudan border, said the PRDP should help child mothers to return to school, or gain skills for income generation.

"We have stressed that women and children have suffered most, whether those who remained at home or those who were abducted and were serving with (Joseph) Kony. A woman is now charged with more responsibilities than a man, but there is little on the table to show she will get a fair share of the money," she said...

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