LRA-Affected Women Empowered and Their Dignity Restored

For over 20 years, the people of Northern Uganda suffered death and indignity in the hands of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA)

Throughout this period, loss of lives, abductions and destruction of property were a daily occurrence rendering the population helpless and reduced to living in internally displaced people’s camps (IDPs). Significant human rights abuses took place as people were maimed and raped, and many others were killed and buried in mass graves. The Northern Uganda war left many with a bitter view of life. As a young wife, 38-year-old Concy Alworo was not spared. She also suffered the brunt of the war. She lost her home and her husband was abducted from the camp where they had taken refuge, returning only after a year in the bush. By the time the war was over Concy, like many women in Northern Uganda, had lost her belongings and was at a loss as to where to begin a productive life.

In the wake of war, human rights abuses became rampant at community and family levels. Concy suffered in an abusive marriage. Her husband, a heavy drinker, would return home late daily, engage in non-productive arguments, and beat her to an extent that she and her children would seek refuge in other households. Her relatives called her “homeless” for enduring such degrading treatment. She struggled with household responsibilities alone, without any sympathy or help from her husband. However, through the Independent Development Fund (IDF) the Democratic Governance Facility has been reaching over 55 small and medium sized Community Based Organizations that work with poor and vulnerable grassroots communities to promote human rights and good governance in 70 districts.

For the past 4 years, Gulu Women Empowerment for Development and Globalization (GWED-G), a beneficiary of this support, has been working to restore the dignity of women like Concy. The organization has not only been providing psycho-social support, medical repairs and rehabilitation to LRA victims and returnees, it has also been working through 150 women groups, to conduct human rights education and positively affect the attitudes of people in the community.

Concy and her husband have benefitted from human rights training conducted by GWED-G, and the change is evident in her family. Her previously abusive husband is now a different man. He does not beat her anymore. They now manage their family responsibilities together. Recently, they contributed funds and sent their 10 year old primary 5 daughter to a good boarding school in Kampala. Concy’s husband also offered to nurse her in the hospital and take care of the children at home, when their last child was sick recently, something that was previously unheard of.

As a Chairperson of Waribu Cingwa Women’s Group, one of the GWED-G supported groups located in Lapeta village, Concy and her team have mobilized women to engage in community sensitization, to an extend where they have become experts. The women have also taken up leadership positions at community, parish and sub county levels. Through training, Concy has gained management skills, which have come in handy both at home and in the group. Under her leadership Wairibu Women’s Group was also registered as a Community Based Organization, and is raising funds to ensure its interventions are self-sustaining. They also boast of an enterprising Village Loans and Savings Scheme, which is growing steadily. There is no doubt that the dignity of these women has been restored, and there’s hope for a better life for them and their children.