Peace T. Kyamureku: “How can a 13 year old be a mother when she herself is still a child?”
National Association of Women Organisations in Uganda (NAWOU) is one of the biggest women organisations in Uganda. NAWOU has had an important role in drafting the new Ugandan constitution, which takes account of gender equality remarkably well. KIOS met NAWOU’s executive director Peace T. Kyamureku, who is one of the most known human rights defenders in Uganda.
“Women are subjected to a lot of discrimination and domestic violence in Uganda. Our goal is to resolve these issues by increasing people’s knowledge of their rights. Before, for example, children’s sexual abuse was considered normal. We had to convince people of that it is not right to marry a 13 year old girl. In Uganda getting married means that one starts to get children. How can a 13 year old be a mother, when she herself is still a child?
If I talk to people about rights, they often wonder what I am talking about. But when rights are combined with development, even men and leaders start to look at these issues in a new way. Violence in fact increases poverty. We are losing both time and money because of it, for example, if a woman cannot work on account of being physical abuse.
My biggest challenge is people’s attitudes. Sometimes the victims of human rights violations do not want to talk about the violations or proceed with the case. It feels very frustrating.
As a human rights defender, I often face name-calling or am downplayed. Nevertheless, as long as we are not too radical, we are not threatened.
Grounding human rights takes time. However, people are now ready to listen and start to ask for information about their rights on their own initiative. That is encouraging. Now it is time to move from distributing human rights knowledge into realizing human rights and figuring out the ways of action when one’s rights have been violated.”
KIOS has supported NAWOU’s training for rural female leaders. The project improves the leading skills and human rights knowledge of rural women leaders as well as activates them into human rights work.
- National Association of Women Organisations in Uganda