MP Featherstone with survivors of domestic violence at Mubende Centre
Photo: Nickson Ogwal / ActionAid
No country can be peaceful and prosperous unless the rights of women are fully addressed.
said UK Member of Parliament and Minister of Equalities, Lynn Featherstone at a meeting with survivors of gender based violence (GBV) at ActionAid Uganda’s Women’s Rights Centre in Mubende district last April.
Mrs Featherstone recently visited Uganda as part of a reconnaissance tour of the UK Government’s Department for International Development’s (DIFD) recent plans to partner with ActionAid Uganda to expand its Women’s Rights Centres Programs across the country. The centres, which provide immediate access to safety and long-term justice, are safe and secure havens for women and girls survivors of violence and injustice. The Women’s Centre in Mubende was one of the first three ever to exist in Uganda and was spearheaded by Actionaid’s Women Won’t Wait campaign and run in partnership with (the Uganda Association of Women lawyers) FIDA-Uganda since 2009.
The Women’s Centre changed the world for me. I feel like a person again; I got justice, I have control and I can now walk on the streets without being embarrassed of what happened to me
Said Gertrude, a gender based violence survivor and former client of the Mubende Centre who was part of a group of 11 women and 2 girls survivors GBV who met with the minister.
The success of the three first centres sparked interest for the expansion of the project with five more centres to open soon thanks to the support of a DIFD grant of £1.4million pounds.
Hon. Lynne Featherstone explains
The British Government places the rights of women at the forefront of its efforts. The Women Rights Centre are vital because they offer safe housing and provide the most needed legal aid.
The project will ensure that the communities in the 8 districts of Amuru, Kumi, Katakwi,Kween, Bwaise, Pallisa, Nebbi and Mubende are aware that Gender-Based Violence is an unlawful behaviour and a criminal act. By sensitizing whole communities, the Women’s Rights Centres offer much more than only providing basic services to survivors (such as medical, legal, psychosocial counselling and temporary accommodation). The program also serves to build the capacity of both the service providers (such as law enforcement officers and medical staff) and the affected communities to better prevent and/or respond to violence against women. The Women’s Rights Centres are an important starting point for influencing policy implementation at local, district and national level so as to improve the response of judicial and government institutions.