October 12-14, 2022 (KAMPALA, Uganda): Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Mediation Support Unit (MSU) organized a capacity-building workshop for women in refugee camps on mediation skills and transfer of knowledge in order to work as mediators in their own rights. Following the continued attempts by women’s organizations and NGOs trying to support vulnerable women, the convention gathered women of all ages and cultures from different refugee camps in Uganda namely, kiryandongo, Rhino camp, Bidibidi, Ayilo, imvepi, etc. The participants discussed issues concerning peacebuilding in South Sudan and life in the camp.
In light of the efforts of MSU on conflict prevention through preventive diplomacy and mediation, and strengthening the capacities of member states institutions and civil society groups, MSU convened this workshop to strengthen the capacity of the women groups in refugee camps and increase their knowledge on alternative conflict resolution mechanisms.
Women are often the foundation of a family, community, and nation. They are an embedment of humanity. Women can influence, persuade and manipulate any situation or people to a direction of their choice in a positive way or negative. When well equipped with the necessary skills, they are the best assets for peacekeeping and co-existence at any level. Most of them now live in refugee camps across the region. Equipping them with the necessary peacebuilding skills was an assurance that they get motivated to become mediators and preachers of peace as well as hope for others. It is essential that women in refugee camps have the capacity to speak up and advocate for their rights and the rights of others; address issues of concern to bodies that are in a position to render assistance where needed. This workshop aimed to uplift women in camps, and provide them with skills for not only surviving but to become politically aware and living a hopeful and positive life despite the complex situation.
MSU director Dr. Aleu Garang in his closing remarks acknowledging efforts of these women in peacebuilding urged the women to continue being part of the peace process in their different capacities “inclusive process remains on the table, there would be people who are not necessarily in conflict but they are affected by conflict including women, youth, CSOs, even Political groups as well and encourage them this is best practice” in the IGAD processes, only in South Sudan cases are being implemented.
The women stressed that instability in the mother country that kept them in the camps threatened the very progress of advocating for anything because they constantly lived in fear of saying the wrong thing or being targeted for demanding their voices be heard. However, forgiveness was a suggestion they recommended for recovery and peace dialogue.
As a resolution, they said that engaging more women in the mediation process could help close gaps conflicts, poverty, gender equality, and inclusive work on a global scale.
The workshop was conducted with financial support from the European Union Trust Fund (EUTF) through the Austrian Development Agency (ADA) under the IPPSHAR Program.