One of the recurring themes at the 57th CSW has been the success of integrating multiple sectors in fighting violence against women in developing countries, and Uganda is no exception.
The March 7 event at United Nations headquarters, “Mobilizing Communities to Prevent and Respond to Violence against Women – Lessons Learned from Uganda,” introduced attendees to two partnerships between the Republic of Ireland and Uganda. The Center for Domestic Violence Prevention and Irish Aid, and the Catholic Church in Uganda and Trócaire, respectively, work together to combat domestic violence in the east African nation.
During the talk, Tina Musuya, the director of CEDOVIP, outlined her organization’s phased-in community mobilization approach against domestic violence: CEDOVIP trains community activists speak with men in local gathering places, like bars, about the traditional roles of men and women and the implications of men’s use of power over women, slowly changing the social norms that have made violence against women acceptable. This is essential in settings that lack infrastructure and services, explained Musuya.
CEDOVIP benefits specifically from a partnership known as GoU-Irish Aid, the Government of Uganda ad the Irish government’s program for overseas development.
Coordinating the discussion was Ireland’s Minister of State for Disability, Equality and Mental Health, Kathleen Lynch.
Lynch told MediaGlobal, “The difficulties we have in terms of culture and tradition are the biggest difficulties.”
In Uganda, where 40 percent of the population identifies as Catholic, engaging the religious community is essential, said Lynch. “It is incredible that when you manage to convince the champions for all sorts of other things within communities, how quickly things then start to move. And how quickly people start to realize and recognize the benefits there are in a change in their attitudes.”
Tackling this is Trócaire, the Catholic Church in Ireland’s overseas development agency. Members of the organization work with high-level church leaders, including bishops, throughout Uganda, in advocating against domestic violence.
In a survey by the agency, 72 percent of Ugandans who responded had seen anti-domestic violence education materials in their church and 88 percent had heard their church leader speak out against it. Because of these efforts, 45 percent of Ugandans surveyed had spoken with their family about harmful effects of domestic violence, 53 percent decided to not engage in violence in their homes, and 37 asked a man they knew was engaging in domestic violence to stop.
Sean Farrell, Trócaire’s country representative in Uganda, told MediaGlobal about the work still to be done. “The biggest challenge we face in the program is, having raised the levels of awareness on the negative effects of domestic violence, we now need to respond to the increasing demands for response at the local level.”
“We have already started planning different interventions with partners looking at response and the testing of potential solutions are already underway, and will inform the program going forward,” he said.
Originally published at MediaGlobal.