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Acholi Chiefdom Tipped on Culture, Women Empowerment :: Uganda Radionetwork
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Acholi Chiefdom Tipped on Culture, Women Empowerment

The Cross-Cultural Foundation of Uganda is rallying Acholi chiefdom to mainstream its dynamic cultural values, norms and practices in promoting womens rights and empowerment. The foundation on Tuesday launched two bilingual handbooks containing the field findings to guide the chiefdom in promoting women empowerment and womens rights among communities.

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The Cross Cultural Foundation of Uganda is rallying Acholi chiefdom to mainstream its dynamic cultural values, norms and practices in promoting women's rights and empowerment.

 

The Foundation says Acholi culture provides a national model for empowerment, and promotion and protection of the rights of women and girls. It says it arrived at this conclusion after documenting eight major themes for promotion of the rights of women under the Acholi culture during a field research it conducted.

 

Amoni Kitooke, the heritage Program Officer at the Cross Cultural Foundation of Uganda says the themes are land as a cultural and economic resource, marriage with accompanying rights and responsibilities and in food security with its associated responsibility and entitlements.

 

The others he says are informal education through which young people were educated, access to traditional leadership, environment free of violence and participation in making decisions.

 

The foundation on Tuesday launched two bilingual handbooks containing the field findings to guide the chiefdom in promoting women empowerment and women's rights among communities.

 

The launch took place at Pearl Afrique Hotel in Gulu Town.

 

The first handbook for traditional and cultural leaders is titled "Using Acholi Culture to Promote Women's Rights and Empowerment" while the second is "My rights as a woman or girl: What does the Acholi culture say?" 

 

Rosalba Oywa, the Executive Director of Women's Voice for Peace, a charity community-based organisation in Gulu district, agrees with the findings. She says the culture of the Acholi people empowered, promoted and protected the rights of women well before colonialists introduced formal education in the 20th century.

 

Oywa says the social fabric of Acholi culture got corrupted during decades of the Lord's Resistance Army conflict which resulted into various violations of women's rights including defilement and rape.

 

Representatives from at least eight chiefdoms from Amuru, Gulu, Lamwo and Kitgum praised the handbooks as reflective of the original culture of the Acholi people. They were joined by sections of elders and other cultural leaders in heaping praise for the handbooks and calling for their implementation.

 

Ambrose Olaa, the Prime Minister of Acholi chiefdom, says the handbooks provide the missing momentum for revival of the corroded culture of the Acholi people.

 

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Participants during the book launch said the misconception of the definition of the phrase 'rights of women' in vernacular is responsible for widespread sexual and gender based violence.

 

Retired Bishop of Kitgum Diocese, Rt. Rev. MacLeod Baker Ochola II, wrote the foreword of the Cultural Leader's Handbook. He wrote that "the unwritten social guidelines under which coexistence and mutual sharing thrive constitute the people's culture. Without bias, these guidelines equitably apportion rights, roles and responsibilities to ensure a functional society. These community values and principles are handed down generations in a succession as their valuable cultural heritage".

 

The long period of war in Acholi and years in displaced people's camps weakened many cultural practices that gave women rights and responsibilities. However, some of these practices and principles have remained strong.

 

The cross-cultural Foundation of Uganda contends that by documenting some of those values, principles and practices, communities realise the rights and empowerment of women and girls.  

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