Rashida Adong Oketcha is the Executive Director for Women Peace Initiatives – Uganda (WOPI-U), a feminist grassroots women’s organization based in Lira city that focuses on promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment through peacebuilding issues in the Lango sub-region and Northern Uganda. Rashida is also engaged as a female representative in the leadership of the Lango Cultural Foundation Institution and in the Northern Muslim Region of the Uganda Muslim Supreme Council (UMSC). She shared with us what she believes needs to happen to involve women and girls in peacebuilding and promote gender justice.
“We need to encourage active participation and meaningful inclusion of women in community-based structures, like peace committees, peace clubs, area land committees, and other community forums in addressing land disputes and community-based conflicts. Their voices need to be heard and included in decisions in order to create a sustainable peace.
We need to economically empower women and girls by promoting their education and skills-training rather than marrying girls off at a young age.
The needs and interests of women should be incorporated in policy research and analysis on issues concerning dispute resolution, access to justice, and economic empowerment.
And we need to address the time constraints and responsibilities of women and girls by addressing gender role expectations at family and community levels. We need to create the space and time for women and girls to participate in community activities.
And we need the media to effectively report on women’s issues without bias.”