Uganda Advocacy Strategy Development
UYAHF, with partners, organized two days meeting with friends and champions to evaluate, assess and reflect on the local movement in the context of the journey moved so far, opportunities, challenges, achievement, and strategic steps moving forward. The overall goal of the two days meeting was to develop and agree on a joint She Decides Uganda advocacy and engagement strategy that will define better ways of work and streamline coordination within the local movement. The She Decides Strategic Development meeting organized on 13th and 14th August 2020 at Fairway hotel was attended by 43 participants (F 24, M 19)
During the session on contextualizing growing populism and opposition and its effects on SRHR that was moderated by Penelope Sanyu from Femmeforte, participants were able to share what they understand by Sexual Reproductive Health Rights. SRHR represents four separate areas; sexual health, sexual rights, reproductive health, and reproductive rights although many times SRHR advocates look at it as one thing rather than looking at each issue separately. Penelope tasked the participants to allow themselves to be honest and vulnerable by looking at SRHR rights individually and identify what their visible and invisible issues are. From the exercise, it was evident that many organizations are doing work on visible issues such as teenage pregnancy, family planning, HIV and AIDS, puberty among others which indicates that we are our first/ own opposition. The invisible issues such as post-abortion care, fertility, sexuality education, sex work are usually ignored because there is a lot of controversy around them. There is a need to include a feminist lens as we advocate for SRHR this will enable advocates to address both the visible and invisible issues. Participants were divided into groups and asked to share their individual stories/experiences showing the opposition they face while at work. The guiding questions for the experience sharing were; what oppositions and criticism have they encountered? what was your experience? what was your response? what tools did the opposition use to put out the message? and from your response what worked and what didn’t work? Participants faced opposition on social media, WhatsApp groups, church, a home among others. The facilitator Penelope encouraged participants to use factual stories that people can relate with, be aggressive, use biblical stories to deliver the messages, decide when the right time is to speak up or when to remain silent.
Isabella Akiteng facilitated the power of movements. The movement needs to have diverse people such as silent radicals, teachers, crazy people among others because each of them has their strengths that they bring. When well-managed movements yield more results than organizations. In movement building, individuals should be able to dream and influence others to buy into it and have the ability to learn from them, put their dreams to rest so that they can achieve the big dream. The challenge with SRHR is that we always want to do the comfortable work and leave out the uncomfortable work and yet that uncomfortable work is where the focus should be to see that we make a better, stronger, and safer world for the young girls and women. Participants were given an exercise to evaluate how far the movement has come, what its contribution has been, what holds it back, what lifts the people in the movement. Participants mentioned what is holding back the movement as; conflict, harsh political environment, accessibility of information, unsupportive and judgmental members and environment, limited capacity of the committee, and generational differences. Some of the things that ground members are passion, knowledge, hope, young people making their own decisions, knowing their rights, numbers of people who belong, and associate with the movement and advocacy among others. Members of the movement listed some of the things that lift them such as; appreciation and incentives such as awards and recognition, allies, teamwork, being part of engagements, experiences, passion, empowered women, and girls among others. The participants agreed that the beneficiary person or group of the strategy that will be developed as is any woman regardless of age and the SRHR issues they face are; rape, economic empowerment, life skills, poor referral networks when to have children, provision of SRHR services among others.