How effectively have the needs of women and girls been addressed during rehabilitation, reintegration and post-conflict reconstruction in Uganda? This study looks the reintegration experience of women and girls after the long war between the Ugandan government and the Lord’s Resistance Army. The study analyses the situation in the context of UN Security Council Resolution 1325, which calls on all actors to address the special needs of women and girls during rehabilitation, reintegration and post-conflict reconstruction. The study concludes that, since the female populations in northern Uganda still struggle with deprivation, want and exclusion, it is difficult speak of meaningful and durable peace.
Following a recent period of relative calm in northern Uganda, communities have begun to return to their ancestral homes from internally displaced peoples camps. This return process and resettlement has had serious implications for women. The social groupings women formed in the camps are often broken following the move back to traditional communities. Long distances curtail the association of women to learn and to advance their own meaningful reintegration into society. This has rendered the engagement of women in post-conflict settings weak and has continued to foster a male dominance that is unaware of women’s specific needs.
UN Resolution 1325 recognises the role of women’s participation in the promotion and maintenance of peace and security. It underlines the fact that sustainable peace processes require that all people live free from want and fear. However, in northern Uganda, the reintegration process has only deepened the fear and needs of the female population:
- The female returnees’ lack of skills and the absence of learning support has greatly reduced their capacity to provide for themselves
- There are numerous accounts of rape and forced marriages that undermine the social position of these women in society
- The programme currently in place fails to take into account the particular dynamics of returning females. For example, it ignores the fact that many of girls have children
- Few women – especially at grassroots level – know of Resolution 1325. This curtails their involvement in issues of peacebuilding and post-conflict reconstruction.
The failure to address the real needs of the female returnees renders the process of reintegration weak. Resolution 1325 provides the potential to advocate for both the meaningful participation of women in issues of peace and to champion women’s needs in post-conflict settings. In order for it to be effective:
- Women must be critical instruments to creating peace, in their various capacities and at several levels
- There must be meaningful and context-responsive education of the provisions of Resolution 1325, to raise awareness among and promote the involvement of women
- Advocacy and action around issues raised by Resolution 1325 should be promoted at all levels
- Women’s unique experiences of war and of reintegration need to be recognised
- Communities – and, more specifically, men – need to be made aware of the importance of women’s involvement in creating peace.