Throughout the COVID-19 crisis in the country, Paradigm for Social Justice and Development (PSD) has been on ground in the peri-urban areas of Wakiso Districts in the constituencies of Busiro North and Busiro East, supporting women to promote peace in their respective communities. COVID-19 cases are on the rise in Uganda, but not at the exponential rate experienced in other parts of the world, suggesting the success of early prevention measures.
Inspired by this, PSD with support from UN Women and Women’s Peace and Humanitarian Fund is sensitizing communities in conflict prevention and resolution through its community-based Peace Coordinators and Women Peace Groups.
“We are concerned about the increasing cases of Gender Based Violence, poor access to health services and the high rate of teenage pregnancies; all arising from the lockdown” says the Executive Director Asanda Zurah.
COVID-19 poses a serious threat not only to the livelihoods of the people but also to our ongoing community Peace building initiatives. That’s why PSD is empowering women and men to sensitize others about the increase in cases of violence and conflicts due to the lockdown and how to promote peace in homes and communities at large. The pandemic has laid bare inequalities that have long been a reality. Prior to the lockdown, PSD convened outreaches and trainings with women and men at grassroots levels.
Following the lockdown, we have developed new and COVID-19 smart strategies and practices through which we engage the targeted communities. We are leveraging on our community networks and digital activism to reach community members. Due to limited mobility, women and girls face increased difficulty in accessing healthcare and justice. In response, PSD is using social media to connect with men, women and girls to continue sensitizing their friends, family members and their communities about peace.
PSD is partnering directly with local council and religious leaders who have been trained on the role of women participation in conflict resolution, providing adequate community based responses to conflicts and to provide the support structure necessary for the Women Peace Groups to participate in conflict prevention in their localities. We also have the media on board, the Peace Coordinators use community radios to air programs that cover issues relating to women, peace and security, conflict prevention, resolution and analysis and GBV prevention hence promoting women’s participation. PSD’s teams on the ground are provided with masks, reflector jackets and sanitizers to ensure their safety and the safety of those they interact with in communities.
“We are working with our teams at the grassroot amidst the COVID-19 challenges because this is when the community needs us most due to the high increase of domestic violence cases and conflicts reported especially in the 2020 lockdown, we want a peaceful 2021 lockdown” says Hadijah Nansubuga, an advocate with PSD.
The organization is leveraging on increased meaningful participation and decision-making of women in conflict prevention processes and response in the constituencies of Busiro North and East, Gombe and Nabweru Divisions in Wakiso District.