On the 29th November, 2023, as part of the activities to mark the 16 days of activism against Gender Based Violence (GBV), the Council for Traditional Leaders in Africa (COTLA) Uganda Chapter launched its strategic documents that will guide its operations in the coming 5 years.
The theme of the launch was to ‘Harness cultural resources and partnerships to end violence against women and girls’.
The documents include a Strategic Plan, an Operation Manual and a Charter. These documents portray the commitment by traditional and cultural leaders in Uganda to promote human rights, especially ending violence against women and girls.
Kings, Chiefs and Prime Ministers of cultural institutions, Government ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), UN Agencies, civil society leaders, media, among others were part of this important event.
Key messages from speakers
Hon. Betty Amongi, the Minister for Gender and Culture said that cultural leaders are very important players in addressing violence against women and girls, as 80% of the victims use traditional systems to seek justice.
Hon. Amongi also noted that the launch of COTLA and it’s strategic documents will help the Ministry of Gender to streamline cultural resources in addressing issues of women and girls, hinging on traditional leadership.
On behalf of the government of Uganda, Hon. Amongi pledged support to cultural leaders and to strengthen its partnerships with other players in promoting the rights of women and girls.
Ms. Paulina Chiwangu noted that COTLA Uganda is grounded in utilising cultural resources to promote gender equality, end child marriage and other harmful customs, while amplifying positive practices, principles and values to transform and empower the lives of women, girls, families and communities in Uganda by 2030.
Mr. Nicolas Gonze the Head of Governance at the European Union Delegation in noted that the EU is committed to supporting the achievement of zero violence in Ugandan communities and supporting initiatives such as COTLA presents an important opportunity to tap into all players.
While speaking on behalf of cultural leaders, Mr. Joselle Obbo, the King of Tieng Adhola cultural institution noted that culture has been consistently blamed for abusing the rights of women and girls. Adding that the launch of COTLA and its strategic documents is an indicator that positive aspects of culture can be harnessed to empower women.
Addressing VAW/G through COTLA
Addressing VAWG through COTLA Uganda provides an opportunity for cultural institutions to work together, including among those who share a common or uncomfortable history.
They subscribe to a common goal of Ubuntu/ Obuntu. Various cultural instituions have already been progressing in addressing violence against women and girls in their communities through ebyoto (amongst the Baganda, Banyoro and Batooro), wang o (Acholi) / ka-oi (Alur), embale (Rwenzururu), Isaazi (Batooro), Langa (Lugbara), Omurugo (Banyaro), Kitumiko (Bwamba) and Eki kome ( Bakiga and Banyankole) among others.
Revitalisation of positive rituals/cultural practices norms and values, parenting styles, cultural skills and structures to prevent and address child marriage and VAWG are at the centre of the commitments by the cultural leaders under the COTLA Uganda umbrella.
COTLA Uganda Chapter is supported by the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, the Cross-Cultural Foundation of Uganda (CCFU) and Queen Mother Best Foundation; with support from UN Women.
The Council of Traditional Leaders in Africa (COTLA) is a pan-African movement of progressive traditional leaders, primarily established to promote gender equality; to end child marriages; and to end female genital mutilation and cutting (FGM/C) and other harmful practices in Africa by 2031.