Kwagala dedicated the award to her team at the organization she leads.
In a rare occurance, the residence of the Germany ambassador on Wednesday teemed with guests. It buzzed with a cacophony of voices from the jubilant guests; sipping drinks and dancing to music from the live band. And once the ambassador, Dr Albrecht Conze and his French counterpart, Jules-Armand Aniambossou, and state minister for foreign affairs, Henry Okello Oryem, had delivered their speeches, it seemed as though the stage had been set for the celebrations to begin.
But the guests needed to wait for a few more minutes before they could be allowed to walk to the bar, pick the drinks and mingle and wiggle. Conze called for their attention and invited Prim Kwagala to the podium to receive the 2020 peace and reconciliation award.
“This is not the time for jokes, because Prim is doing something extremely serious. She is trying to turn around ancient modes that marked the society as a patriarchal society. If the call to change things and to be aware of the limited rights for women and girls is coming from a young Ugandan lawyer, then we must listen to this call,” the ambassador told his guests during the 57th anniversary of the Franc0-Germany friendship treaty. The treaty ended centuries of rivalry between the two countries.
He said that Kwagala has assisted female victims of gender-based violence to try to access justice and resolve conflicts through her non-governmental organization – Women’s Pro Bono Initiative – over the last one and a half years.
“This award has been created to recognize courageous people who are trying to improve the rights of ordinary Ugandans. We decided to give the award this year to a lawyer, who is still less known, so she can interact with you. This award is a very symbolic one. It is not linked to funds. We don’t have them,” Conze said as he and Aniambossou handed Kwagala the award. The award was introduced by France and Germany in Uganda three years ago and has previously been won by a team of paralegals and two individuals separately.
Kwagala dedicated the award to her team at the organization she leads. “Having grown up as first-born in a family of eight – seven girls and one boy – in a deeply patriarchal society, my passion to see society view the girl child in the same lens as the boys started when I was quite young,” she said.
While her parents allotted them (girls) and their brother equal opportunities to flourish, Kwagala noted, that many families continue to give preferential treatment to boys over girls. This, she added, is manifested by the many girls who are still married off early in their lives.
Kwagala said that the fact that many women and girls justify wife-beating by husbands justifies further investment in empowerment programs for (women). She told New Vision that her organization operates in various districts and has worked with over 300 women to address gender-based violence cases.
“We work with the police to facilitate investigations. We know the state prosecutors have many cases to deal with and they sometimes ask us to stand in for them so we prosecute cases against perpetrators. Some cases have been addressed through mediation and some perpetrators now understand women have rights,” Kwagala added. Once Kwagala was through with her speech, Conze asked the guests to “focus on the bar and have fun,”
Earlier, Oryem noted that the treaty formed the bedrock of the European Union.
“The world today is going through a lot of conflicts that have caused the loss of lives and damage to property. If we learn from the example of France and Germany, we end the confrontation between our individual countries,” he noted.
He commended France and Germany for their continued development assistance to Uganda. Conze said that the European Union Commission is working on a green deal for Europe which would be extended to Africa.
He noted that the future of the world would be determined by well-conceived multiculturalism and sold relationships. The relationship between France and Germany, Conze said, is not only a guarantor of the sustenance of Europe, but it also means that continent will remain Africa’s closest and strongest partner.
Aniambossou said the two French and Germany leaders took a visionary decision to end conflict between the two countries. He added that cooperation between the two countries has been deepened over the years, and their relationship is reflected in Uganda in many ways.