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UN envoy applauds Uganda for empowering women

By Eddie Ssejjoba

Added 20th September 2019 12:25 PM

Bhatia, who also doubles as the Deputy Executive Director of the UN Women said she was pleased that at least 52 percent of positions on the committees in Maaji Refugee Settlement in Adjumani district, Northern Uganda were won by women.

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UN Assistant Secretary-General for Resource Management, Sustainability, and partnerships, Anita Bhatia applauds the dancers (Photos by Eddie Ssejjoba)

Bhatia, who also doubles as the Deputy Executive Director of the UN Women said she was pleased that at least 52 percent of positions on the committees in Maaji Refugee Settlement in Adjumani district, Northern Uganda were won by women.

REFUGEES 

ADJUMANI - The United Nations (UN) Assistant Secretary-General for Resource Management, Sustainability, and partnerships, Anita Bhatia, has applauded Uganda for its keen interest in empowering women refugees to take up leadership responsibilities.

Bhatia, who also doubles as the Deputy Executive Director of the UN Women said she was pleased that at least 52 percent of positions on the committees in Maaji Refugee Settlement in Adjumani district, Northern Uganda were won by women.

She said this was a deliberate policy by the OPM to empower women, which she said should be reciprocated elsewhere in Uganda and in other parts of the world.   

The UN envoy said this during her visit to Maaji where she officiated at the ‘He for She’ award ceremony organized by OPM and the Refugee Welfare Councilwomen leaders project.

 The project for empowering women into leadership is funded by the Norwegian government and implemented by the OPM in Maaji I, II and III as a pilot project.  

“We hope that with continued support from Norway and other partners we can take the lessons and the effects of the demonstration of this pilot project to other parts of Uganda,” she said, adding that she would market the program to wherever she travels in the World.

 

Majority of refugees in the settlement are from South Sudan, but women confessed that they were never given such opportunities to contest for leadership positions.

Many said they are now able to discuss the committee's issues that affect women concerning domestic violence, allocation of relief items, among other things.

Bartia, however, appealed to the men, some of who she said did not support their wives assuming leadership roles on the committees to be positive, saying ‘an empowered woman brings wealth and more love to the family’ and benefits the community and country.

She said without the men’s support women cannot succeed. “Uganda is leading the way in showing how women can cause change, I will take these lessons I have seen here to other parts of the world,” she stated.

According to the UN envoy, programs like these were being designed to give women the confidence and the leadership capacity so that if an opportunity arises they can rise up and declare they can do it.

She said empowering women and training them in skills gives them the confidence and interest to run for higher positions including Parliament. 

She also appealed to the refugees to send their children to school, saying ‘education is the single most important weapon you have, use that weapon well’.

She congratulated Uganda for its open policy on receiving refugees and the OPM and local governments in implementing what she referred to as an innovative project on empowering women in leadership, which she said was showing a lot of success.  

“We want to see a replication of programmes like these which are aimed at the integration of refugees with host communities and providing learning skills and capacities to women and girls so that they can take the rightful place in society and communities,” she explained.

She said the example of letting women actively participate in decision making in refugee settlements was an excellent model that should be taken by other big refugee hosts like Pakistani, Turkey and Kenya.

“Here, you are sending a message to the global community on how women can participate in leadership,” she said.    

Titus Jogo, the OPM Refugee Desk Officer said in the Maaji Refugee Settlement elections said women and children constitute 80% of the population and therefore encouraged them to vie for leadership positions and finally took the majority share of 52% percent of the various structures.  

“We realized that the number of women was so low in decision and planning meetings yet most of the outcome impact more on them,” he said.

The Norwegian Ambassador in Uganda Elin Østebø Johansen applauded Uganda and the local governments for receiving thousands of refugees at the same time, which she said though it poses challenges,  it required concerted efforts and dedication to succeed.

“Norway is proud to contribute to efforts this country is making to settle refugees. Women have learnt to read and write, many have learnt English for the first time, they have started for the first time to make decision-making process and attend forums where their decisions and opinions matter,” she said, adding that an equal society is a good society.  

 

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