Statement by Ms. Rosa Malango at the Partnership round table meeting for the United Nations Integrated Support to Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) Joint Programme

Mar 27, 2018

Lt.Col Bright Rwamirama, the State Minister for Veteran Affairs in Ministry of Defence and Veteran Affairs and Ms. Rosa Malango, the UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative shake hands after signing off the United Nations Integrated Support to Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) Joint Programme. The new programme will promote women & gender equality, livelihoods & social cohesion for military families, women combatants, veterans and those who serve as UN peace keepers.

Acknowledgement

The Honourable Minister of State for Defence and Veterans Affairs

The Chief of Defence Forces,

The Joint Chief of Staff, UPDF,

Honourable Members of Parliament representing UPDF,

Your Excellences, the Ambassadors & their representatives

Permanent Secretaries in your respective capacities

DFCU Bank Representative,

Centenary Bank Representative,

My Colleagues from the United Nations,

Distinguished ladies and Gentlemen,

Welcome

Thank you for honouring our invitation to this partnership round table meeting on the proposed Joint Programme on the United Nations Integrated Support to Uganda People’s Defence Forces.  Thank you Hon. Bright Rwamirama, the statement Minister for Veteran Affairs and co-chair for his commitment, passion and warm welcome. This is evidence of a good partnership.

I commend the collective effort made by the Ministry of Defence and Veteran Affairs (MoDVA), Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) and the United Nations to develop this joint programme. Developing it comprised of an extensive multi-stakeholder consultative process involving a number of critical stakeholders in and outside the country. The consultations identified and consolidated the challenges faced by UPDF and proposed solutions. We are pleased to converge today to share the findings, recommendations and next steps.

UPDF soldiers (mostly men) are contributing significantly to peace efforts and security in the Great Lakes region and the Horn of Africa. This is recognised by all as a positive contribution by Uganda. 

However, what is not acknowledged is the changing gender dynamics at the household level for military families as well as the serving female combatants – which has led to some unintended consequences.  The consultations identified four key issues of concern:

  1. The changed gender roles at the household levels – Women are increasingly taking care of socio economic responsibilities at the household level, amidst several challenges.
  2. The differentiated and specific gendered needs of women combatants/officers that require special attention in the military structure.
  3. Conflict related psychosocial distress for serving officers and their families.
  4. The high number of unemployed veterans that could be a potential risk for peace, safety, security and development. 

These are unique challenges that the UPDF and the Ministry of Defence and Veterans Affairs are ready to consider addressing. The good news is we have possible solutions for these challenges.

What are the opportunities?

There are several opportunities that can be leveraged to inform our response.

1. The UN reform on Delivering as One – Under this framework, the UN has redefined its partnerships and now reinforces the need for coalition building beyond traditional partners to overcome fragmentation, consolidate and leverage the capacities of the different UN agencies so that support to development, humanitarian action and sustaining peace is delivered in a cost effective fashion.

In practice Delivering as One, means having one leader, one programme, one common budgetary framework and communicating as one UN. The UN is also rallying effort around implementation of the 2030 Agenda for sustainable development including its seventeen SDGs.  This bold agenda focuses on People, Planet, Prosperity and Peace. It provides a great opportunity to recognise indigenous capacities to solve local challenges of global relevance.

The proposed programme we are discussing today enables us to deliver in particular on three key SDGs: SDG 16 on peace justice and accountable institutions; SDG 5 on achieving Gender Equality and Women Empowerment; and SDG 8 on decent work and Economic growth.

2. Advancing Peace - Peace is not just the absence of war – it is also about human dignity and well-being for all and therefore necessitates improving indigenous capacities that prevent conflict and address root causes.

Prevention of conflict and peacebuilding is one of the main threads of the UN reform. The UN Secretary General has observed that the cost of conflict and crisis has become very untenable globally threatening development gains for all of us.

It is therefore imperative to prioritise crisis prevention as a foundation for responsible sustainable development. UN member states have the opportunity to critically look at the risks in their countries and develop prevention interventions that respond to their local realities, benefit from good practises and inform global standards.

For example, Uganda’s second National Development Plan underscores the importance of continued professionalisation and modernisation of the defence and security sector; institutionalisation and creation of productive the reserve forces; as well as enhancing sector welfare.  All these are critical anchors to innovate around innovate around peace building and development in Uganda, transforming veterans from risks into positive stakeholders.

3. Advancement of gender and women - Sustainable development goal 5 on gender and UN Security Council resolution 1325 underscore the need to address discrimination, elimination of all forms of violence against all women and girls in the public and private spheres.  They also call for the recognition of the value of unpaid care and domestic work, full and effective participation and access to opportunities for women in political, economic and public life as well as ensuring universal access to sexual and reproductive health rights

Taking advantage of the prevailing positive environment on the advancement of women in Uganda, we are optimistic that the challenges identified by UPDF can be addressed. One example is supporting women’s economic empowerment through vehicles such as the Micro – Enterprise Fund under the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development which has provided opportunities for women to adopt roles as producers, managers and sellers of goods and services. Another is ensuring that the specific needs of military spouses and serving female combatants are budgeted for by taking into account that gender budgeting by Ministries Departments and Agencies is now a requirement as per provisions of the Public Finance Management Act (2015). 

As I conclude, allow me to emphasize what the UN do;

The UN will leverage its collective strength and comparative advantage in support of military spouses, veterans and combatants by engaging key structures to promote gender equality, facilitate sustainable and inclusive economic growth, address sexual and reproductive health of women and girls as well as strengthen efforts to combat gender based violence.

We will also promote social cohesion and peaceful co-existence by facilitating the participation of target groups.  

We are committed to a multi-stakeholder approach that will bring together different actors from within Government, UN agencies, development partners, Private sector leaders and NGOs to deliver on the proposed programme.

Together, we will contribute to bringing Agenda 2030 and its 17 SDGs to life in Uganda while promoting human dignity and well-being through enhanced equality for women and men in uniform as well as their families. 

Agenda 2030’s rally call is ‘leaving no one behind’  and this programme responds to it by focusing on a group that is usually not targeted by development programmes, these include; Military families, Women Combatants, Veterans, UN Peace keepers and Reserve Forces.

In conclusion

Informed by the United Nations Development Assistance Framework for Uganda 2016-2020, the United Nations is committed to working with all of you to deliver on this innovative approach to sustaining peace. I am delighted to recognise the following UN agencies in Uganda: UNDP, UN WOMEN, OHCHR, UNFPA, UNIDO and UNCDF who will contribute to the joint programme and to note that other UN entities are also looking into modalities to support this innovative initiative going forward. The UN Entebbe Base presence today is evidence of our gratitude to Uganda and our willingness to improve our partnerships in sustaining peace.

The consultative process noted that some of you already work with the Ministry of Defence and Veterans Affair and UPDF. We are eager to learn from you, and also solicit your partnership in making this collaborative effort a reality.

I am confident that this joint programme will be recognised as an example of an innovative approach that builds on indigenous capacities to ensure an inclusive sustainable approach to peace and development.

Thank you for your attention.

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