Welcome to part two of our November 2020 Inspirational Interview with Tumukunde Loyce, executive director at Youth Fraternity for Change (YFC-Uganda).
Ms. Loyce is a Ugandan social worker and a specialist in women health. Her not-for-profit organisation, YFC-Uganda, was formed to mobilise, organise and empower women and girls to overcome violence and inequality. She has been instrumental in ending child marriage and sexual violence in western Uganda.
In this part of the interview, Ms. Loyce discusses how YFC-Uganda has continued its work during the COVID-19 pandemic, its plans to open a women’s shelter, and preventing women from being accused of witchcraft.
Part 1 of this interview was published on 29 November 2020.
Photos courtesy of YFC-Uganda.
6. With the coronavirus pandemic currently raging on, the rates of violence against women (VAW), including domestic violence, have been surging worldwide. How has YFC-Uganda adapted in order to continue helping women and girls in your communities while adhering to the safety measures needed to curb the virus?
- Using media platforms: YFC has been using radio, TVs and social media to raise awareness on the increasing VAW, encouraging women to seek for help from police, and messages targeting men to engage in domestic work and respectful relationships during lockdown.
- Working with existing gender-based violence (GBV) village monitors to increase their vigilance in reporting GBV cases rising during the COVID-19 crisis and continue doing the same afterwards. YFC had previously trained and empowered 102 GBV village monitors in 102 villages in three districts. These monitors have played a critical role in reaching out to victims and helping them to report GBV cases during and after COVID-19.
- Working with the police family and child protection unit: This unit has been operational during COVID-19, and YFC has been referring GBV victims to it. In five GBV cases, YFC facilitated police with fuel to go to the victims’ homes to intervene.
7. How do you think men and boys can help to end violence against women?
If men and boys are supported to form specialised groups and organisations with an objective of improving other men’s understanding of VAW can influence men’s attitudes about gender equality and relationships between men and women, encourage men’s caregiving in relationships and in the home, share domestic household duties, respect women’s financial decision-making and support women’s economic independence and girls’ education.
Religious and traditional leaders are often men uniquely positioned to make a difference. Their views influence those of their congregations and communities. Given their social networks, religious and traditional leaders are pivotal intermediaries between communities and administrators at various levels of government. Places of worship (churches, mosques, temples) are often the only institutions where people have contact in an ongoing way, particularly in rural Africa. Engaging faith-based institutions and individual religious and traditional leaders can support the development of gender equity messages that discourage VAW and support social norm change.
8. Tell us about YFC-Uganda’s plans for the future. What campaigns, programmes or projects do you have coming up in the next five years?
YFC has planned a number of campaigns and projects in the next five years, and these include:
- Rescue Her project: YFC plans to use existing legal frameworks and work with specialised institutions, e.g. police, local council leaders, courts and local government officers to trace and rescue girls who were married as children out of their home villages or districts. YFC will rescue these girls and support them to integrate with their family and community to have a second chance.
- YFC plans to open a GBV shelter to provide a safe house for women and girls who are escaping violence. The shelter will provide services that address immediate physical and psychological injuries resulting from violence and provide temporary shelter and legal support. Currently in Mbarara district, there is no GBV shelter.
- Stop Witch Accusations: This campaign will aim at ending violence against women falsely accused of witchcraft. A segment of Ugandans believe in the existence and powers of witches. Such beliefs have commonly resulted in persecution and violence toward women who are believed to be witches.
9. How can The Pixel Project’s supporters engage with and support the efforts of YFC-Uganda to stop violence against women?
- Partner and collaborate with YFC: Pixel Project’s supporters can directly partner with YFC to support part or whole of our current or future projects and campaigns to respond and prevent VAW in western Uganda.
- Support YFC’s online fundraising campaigns: YFC is in need of funds to implement current and future projects and campaigns to stop violence against women. We plan to have an online fundraising campaign using platforms like Global Giving. Pixel project supporters can support our fundraising campaigns when reached.
- Volunteer with YFC: Pixel Project supporters can help YFC by volunteering directly or indirectly to support our work. We strongly believe that volunteers can provide their expertise and share experiences that can help YFC to prevent and respond to VAW in western Uganda.
- Share YFC’s work: Pixel Project supporters can widely share YFC’s work with their networks. Our online project work can be found on Facebook or Twitter.
10. In your considered opinion, how can we end violence against women for good?
Countries like Uganda have domestic laws against VAW and have ratified a number of international policies against violation of women’s rights. The challenge is that there are implementation gaps because governments have not invested effectively to implement these anti-VAW laws.
I believe that if more efforts are put towards girls’ education while mainstreaming curriculum about VAW, we shall raise a generation of men and women respecting gender equality, human rights and, most importantly, stopping VAW.
I believe we should also centre men and boys at the heart of efforts to violence against women. Men and boys are perpetrators of VAW, and centering them as change agents can spill over to other men and boys to take personal responsibility to end violence against women for good.