On 1st April 2022, EASSI in partnership with Crossroads International organized a joint cross border Dialogue bringing together over 41 women leaders and 10 policy makers from the Karamoja Cluster of Uganda and Kenya. The aim was to discuss the involvement of women in the implementation of the MOU in support of the Cross-Border Integrated Programme for Sustainable Peace and Socio-Economic Transformation for the Karamoja cluster. The dialogue was held at Mount Moroto Hotel, Uganda.
Cattle rustling between the Kenyans and Ugandans along the Karamoja area border has resulted in gross violations of human rights including rape, defilement and murder of both innocent women and men traversing the area in pursuit of livelihood. The Karimojong women who are involved in small-scale cross border trade along the two countries have endured the underdeveloped infrastructure, threat of violence and abuse as they move along the border in search of food, grazing grounds, water and trade opportunities. The women pastoralists have got a persistent struggle in providing for their families and households, while on the move or within the Kraal.
Karamoja is a patriarchal, pastoralist society, where masculinity is glorified. The men, through the clans and elders’ forum are the main decision-makers and controller of key resources and women’s lives and bodies. In meetings where elders and men are deliberating, women are locked out and in cases where they are in attendance, their voices are muted or ignored, even in instances where the issue under discussion is directly affecting their lives. Even with the signing of the Karamoja MOU to enhance Cross-Border Collaboration between Uganda and Kenya, women are still side-lined in both the policy process, development, and implementation of the MoU and yet they are an important stakeholder to ensure national and regional development.
The cross-border dialogue that brought together women, policy makers, and CSOs tackled discussions about the current insecurities in Karamoja and how the women have continued to be ignored in the policy discussions. Policy makers presented the progress that Uganda and Kenya have done to implement the MOU.
Mr. Augustine Lokwang told participants that the Kenyan governments have supported women with capital to boost their businesses and there is established County Women Peace Caucus peace consisting of representatives of women from each subcounty peace committes, one representative from the CSO, one representative of Maendeleo ya Wanawake, one representative of women with disability, and one representative of business women nominated by the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
For Uganda, Mr. William Sssenoga, DISO told participants that The Ugandan Governments has been able to conduct the disarmament program where guns, cattle, and other properties of the Karamojong’s have been recovered. In addition, Government of Uganda through the Prime Minister’s office are currently purchasing cattle mostly goats to replace the animals that have been raided in the past.
Two participants from Turkana -Kenya acknowledged that they had received each 100,000 Keshs, approximately 3 million Uganda shillings to boost their businesses. In Uganda, one participant called Clementine from Moroto benefited from motorcycles and phones distributed for community surveillance / coordination.
Through group work, women and policy makers independently discussed the strategies of involving women within the Karamoja Cluster of Kenya and Uganda can be involved in the process of implementing the MOU. Below are some of the strategies;
Create women champions in Kraal based intelligence gathering network.
Promote, Protect and support women leaders involved in livestock and arms recovery.
Facilitate establishment of women organization for peace and sharing of best practices.
Strengthen advocacy and decision-making approaches through Bottom- Up approach. Women should be given opportunity to participate fully in the planning processes through involvement of a multi-sectoral approach where all stakeholders participate.
Continuous engagement of the women peace forum with both governments (Kenya and Uganda and Line ministries) and cross border exchange visits for women to learn from each other.
Provide incentives for Women led business Enterprises through tax relief and soft loans.
In conclusion, policy makers pledged their support in involving women in the MOU implementation and offering their continued support in promoting peaceful co-existence between Uganda and Kenya. Policy makers were delighted about knowing the key role that women play in peace building and therefore, urged women leaders to engage in all policy spaces since the Ugandan and Kenyan Constitutions provides for women’s spaces in all policy processes. Women acknowledged that they are now knowledgeable about the MOU implementation and called upon Ugandan and Kenyan governments to ensure that women are meaningfully involved in the policy processes for sustainable development.