More than 80 representatives from cultural institutions, government, civil society, religious institutions, individual cultural activists, writers and the media gathered at Kakanyero Hotel in Gulu to witness the launch of an important research report on “Women, Culture and Rights in Acholi”.
Culture and traditions have often been perceived in Uganda as reinforcing gender inequality. This report (which focuses on the Acholi region, specifically Gulu, Kitgum and Lamwo), explores women’s rights in Acholi not only derived from current laws, but are also defined by long standing tradition, and discusses how these can be used to enhance women’s empowerment today .
Rt. Rev. Macleord Baker Ochola II, Retired Anglican Bishop of the Diocese of Kitgum emphasized the need to document Acholi values for posterity and encouraged women to assert their rights especially what already exists in their culture other than newly introduced perceptions of rights.
The research findings show that, in spite of the upheavals of the last decades, Acholi culture has proved resilient in many aspects and still has well-structured systems through which gender-related rights have been passed on from generation to generation. Some of these present opportunities to empower women and girls today are linked to the traditional roles that women play in peace-building, nurturing and socialisation children, and using the power of orature as a communication tool to bring about change in perceptions and attitudes on gender relations.
CCFU called upon the Government of Uganda and development partners to recognize the value of using existing cultural values and practices which can be used to reinforce efforts to promote peaceful co-existence, tolerance, food security, productivity, gender equity, restore moral and dignity in society
The launch marked the beginning of a project implemented by the Cross-Cultural Foundation of Uganda (CCFU) with support from Diakonia to enhance women’s and girls’ ability to use cultural values and practices in private and public spaces to better defend their rights.