The main topic of the event hosted by ACORD on the 2nd of March, 2012 at the CSW event in New-york was Calling out for the strengthening of livelihoods and foods security for SGBV survivors as a way of reparation.
"Violence against women and girls is an endemic and grave problem. It affects about 7 in every 10 women at one point in their lives, yet it is neither inevitable nor intractable. Numerous efforts have been in place but much more needs to be done and intensified to: - change the harmful norms and practices, strengthen laws and policies, provide services and access to justice for survivors of violence and help survivors to rebuild their lives..." these words opened the scene for the rich discussions around the very important topic of strengthening livelihoods and food security for SGBV survivors as a way of reparations.
Over a 100 participants male and female, from all corners of the world thronged the ACORD CSW parallel event to discuss the needs, challenges, lessons, best practices and recommendations on how to empower women survivors of Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV) through livelihoods and food security strengthening. ACORD led a panel discussion comprising of Salina Sanou, Head of Policy and Advocacy, ACORD; Dinah Musindarwezo, Executive Director FEMNET; Didacienne Mukahabeshimana, Livelihoods thematic lead, ACORD Rwanda; and Juliet Nakato, Policy and Advocacy Officer, ACORD Uganda; moderated by Annette Msabeni-Ngoye, Head of Programmes Operations and Development, ACORD.The panel spoke in depth about the experiences, challenges and needs of SGBV survivors, underscoring the need for their governments to formulate clearer policies and programmes that benefit rural women survivors of SGBV.
Panelists: Juliet Nakato,Salina Sanou and Dinah Musindarwezo
Highlighting the numerous negative consequences of SGBV spanning from psychological, emotional, physical, among others, Salina Sanou set the stage by stressing the need for comprehensive strategies and mechanisms to address the needs of SGBV survivors through: restitution, compensation, rehabilitation, and satisfaction & guarantee of non-repetition.
"....SBGV survivors should be accompanied through initiatives that respond to their livelihood rehabilitation" she affirmed. Through her presentation, Salina demonstrated how livelihoods support provides are very crucial entry point for reparations of SGBV survivors. She demonstrated some of the key strategies including capacity building through skills & knowledge building trainings and involvement of the women themselves at the center of every intervention, provision of input including farming equipment, tools, seeds, fertilizers, revolving funds, animals, etc, awareness creation and advocacy at all levels.The case study from Rwanda, as shared by Didacienne highlighted the plight of women headed households .........A case study from Uganda titled "from child solider to business woman", as presented by Juliet Nakato succinctly brought out pertinent issues often ignored. Abducted in the 1980s by the Lords resistance, at the tender age of 8 Filder was forced to live the life of a combatant in the bush, serving the fighters, forced into early marriage, exposed very early in life to the atrocities of war, she was robbed off her childhood, and subjected to untold psychological and physical harm and trauma. She eventually escaped from the bush, full of hope and faith but faced rejection, discrimination and social exclusion as her community and family would not accept her back as she was now "tainted"......this is the story of many young girls and women whose plight is often ignored in the numerous peace recovery and development programs efforts by governments and other stakeholders. Through the ACORD Uganda programs, Filder was linked to a women's support group for therapy and mutual support, underwent skills building training and received a modest loan that enabled her to start a small business which allows her to earn income and meet her daily needs. Today she has a voice and is an authority in advocating for the inclusion of ex-child soldiers in the peace recovery and development programs in her community.
Calling on governments to develop closer ties with rural women survivors of SBGV paying attention to their needs, Juliet also emphasized the need for redistributive policies and aid packages to urgently address women's' critical rehabilitation needs including psychosocial support and healing, access to land and productive resources, agricultural development as a means of livelihoods among others.
Echoing the voices of fellow panelists, Dinah Musindarwezo, emphasized the link between the negative effects and consequences of SGBV with poverty and disempowerment of women. "... We must all recognize that food and livelihood insecurity can only be effectively addressed if SGBV is considered and addressed. Livelihoods interventions should address the underlying causes and consequences of SGBV and pverty..." she reiterated. Sharing experiences from the FEMNET programs, Dinah underscored the need to promote participation of all, emphasizing the importance of involving men as key players, promoting women's capacity building and access to and control of resources, ensuring ratification and effective implementation of the AU women's protocol, combining research and advocacy at all levels and capacity building for national women's organizations. Many of those speaking at the forum underlined the importance of helping the survivors rebuild and transform their lives by putting them in the driving seat of all efforts.
Contributing to the debate, Ousainou Ngum, Executive director of ACORD stressed that, as well as representing the interests of rural women at national and international levels, the importance of the ACORD methodology is in supporting rural women to drive the processes through strategic litigation in order to ensure their voices are heard and that their issues are addressed with sufficient evidence base rooted from the grassroots. This is critical so as to ensure that rural and vulnerable women survivors of SGBV can hold governments to account, and contribute to their empowerment and development.
Ousainou Ngum, Executive director of ACORD
In a parting shot echoing the voices of most participants, Annette Msabeni, emphasized the need for comprehensive approaches that are rooted in the needs and contexts of the women SGBV survivors themselves and ensuring their full participation from the grassroots, to the national, regional and global levels. It is critical to restore the women both psychologically and economically, evidence has shown that livelihoods and food security strengthening, provides a critical entry point if addressed holistically. In addition the significant importance that comes from working with men, existing communities and traditional mechanisms as a holistic approach.
Annette Msabeni-Ngoye, Head of Programmes Operations and Development, ACORD.
This marks the end of the 56th CSW event 2012 in New-york. We would appreciate any feedbacks concerning the coverage of the event.