Uganda: Refugees celebrate achievements of displaced women
05 March 2010

Young refugee acrobatics perform at International Women's Day in Kampala. (Susi Moeller/JRS)
“We have clearly seen that they should be granted the rights they [women] are entitled to and should not be denied any opportunities.”

Kampala, 5 March 2010 — JRS celebrated International Women’s Day on March 5 with over 230 refugees and partners in the Ugandan capital, Kampala.

Speaking on the day’s theme “Equal rights and opportunities for all in displacement”, JRS Programme Coordinator, Stephen Kuteesa, praised the resilience of displaced women and their role in building peace and resolving conflicts, e.g. through peace, drama and cultural dance groups.  “They are struggling to look after their families while facing many challenges,” he said.

JRS Country Director, Sr. Nora McCarthy, thanked refugee women for looking after their families, and advised them to start small ventures to earn some money. She also encouraged those failing to cope in the city to take advantage of the option of relocating to the settlements, where they will receive support from UNHCR and the Ugandan government.

Sr. McCarthy’s words were confirmed by the Police Community Liaison Officer and guest of honour, Lydia Namboowa, who said the government had no problem with refugees starting small businesses to support their families. She also urged them to make full use of available government facilities like health centers, primary schools, village councils and the police.

The event, that was celebrated at Sharing Youth Centre Nsambya attracted refugees of Rwandan, Congolese, Burundian, Eritrean, Kenyan and Sudanese origin as well as representatives from JRS partner organisations such as the African Centre for Treatment and Rehabilitation of Torture Victims (ACTV) and the Refugee Law Project.

Cultural music, dance and drama performances by different refugee groups took place throughout the day. Applause filled the hall when Rwandan refugee youth staged a performance in acrobatics. In addition, there was an exhibition displaying the various goods refugees trade in to earn a living, such as Congolese traditional clothes, bracelets, earrings, necklaces and belts.

Participants felt that the event enabled them to better realise and appreciate the role and achievements of displaced women. “We have clearly seen that they should be granted the rights they are entitled to and should not be denied any opportunities,” said Kabali Tokunda, Chairperson of the French speaking Congolese refugee women in Kampala.

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