It is five months since the Women’s Advocacy Network (WAN) was officially launched. Since then the Network has been involved in a number of advocacy activities which include community outreach meetings, holding meetings with various stakeholders to advocate for our issues, holding regular radio talk shows to create awareness on the challenges we face among other things. We have also visited similar groups in other part of Northern Uganda to share our experiences and to learn from them.
I am proud of WAN and what we have set to achieve. I am a victim of this war and I have experienced firsthand what war does to women. War breaks our spirits, our hopes, our lives and aspirations. I have also seen the strength of the women as they work towards rebuilding their lives and that of their communities. We have realized that if we do not come together, speak out about our issues and seek solutions to our problems then no one will do it on our behalf. We have made a resolution to break our silence and become advocates of our own cause.
This is why WAN is important to us. It gives us a platform to advocate for our rights as victims as well as be agents of peace and post conflict reconstruction. As WAN, women who shared similar experiences during the conflict are able to come together, discuss issues central to us and work around solutions to these issues. We have realized the satisfaction that comes from pulling each other up, knocking a door of opportunity, sharing our joys and tears together. We feel that through this platform we are strengthened and we can achieve what we set ourselves to do.
The road has not been smooth sailing, we continue to face challenges. Our members are still going through difficult times coping with re-integration challenges which include stigmatization, supporting our children born in captivity, land inheritance, health problems among others. However, we have also received unlikely support from our communities and stakeholders due to our continued creation of awareness through community outreach and radio talk shows. Other challenges that we continue to face is communication barriers since most of us can only speak in Acholi and social economic empowerment for most of our members.
But one wise man said, the journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. Till we get there its aluta continua!
Evelyn Amony is the chairperson of the Women’s Advocacy Network.