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Jan 23 2019

An Exchange Visit : Connecting Survivors, Strengthening Voices, Creating Sustainable Change

TrustAfrica, in collaboration with Justice and Reconciliation Project, Allamin Foundation, and Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative is organizing an exchange visit in Abuja, Nigeria from 21 to 25 January 2019 to explore issues in transitional justice in Africa and deepen the conversation relating to justice and reconciliation on the continent.

 

In her Opening Remarks at the ceremony, Brenda Peace Amito, Representative of Trust Africa reiterated the need to advance accountability for human rights violations in Africa.

Excerpts of her speech: 

“Good morning and thank you for taking time off your busy schedules to participate in this gathering. This meeting is a partnership between TrustAfrica’s International Criminal Justice Fund – which focuses on enhancing civil society to advance accountability for human rights violations and thus contribute to an Africa without impunity; Justice and Reconciliation Project; Allamin Foundation, and Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative. 

TrustAfrica is a pan-African organisation headquartered in Dakar, Senegal. We have offices in Nigeria and Zimbabwe. The areas of work for TrustAfrica are Justice, Citizen mobilization and participation in governance and democracy; anti-corruption and illicit financial flows; and community empowerment. 

At the ICJ Fund we believe that any transitional justice process involves strengthening accountability. That is, understanding human rights violations and its impacts on both men and women is vital for advancing accountability purposes. 

Addressing gender sensitive concerns – means to consider gender dynamics and gender inequality. Because women victims face more barriers than men both to access redress and survive a violation. This is not to belittle men’s experience of violence during conflict but it is in recognition of the fact that women and girls often bear a larger burden of conflict-related violence. 

It is therefore important to ensure that transitional justice mechanisms and other post-conflict interventions address gender concerns including, but not limited to: 

  • Women participation and access to TJ Mechanisms 

  •  Women in leadership positions to make gender sensitive decisions 

  • Gender based

    violations as part of the mandate of TJ processes

  • Sexual violence and rape

  • Education, health, forced displacement and livelihood issues – because women’s violations especially sexual violence have long term impacts including impacts on motherhood as a consequence of rape. 

In order to further ensure TJ interventions are benefiting women victims themselves, additional long-term methods, such as empowering women survivors, facilitating healing processes, building solidarity and networking are needed. 

However, there has been a decrease in advocacy platforms where women connect to articulate an advocacy agenda and strategize how to advance their objectives. This reduction is due in part to the institutionalization of women’s efforts, which makes efforts less radical, participatory, and activist – there is therefore a need for discussions on “women issues” to be broadened. 

This gathering, in my opinion, is one such effort to broaden the space for discussion and engagement beyond institutions addressing women’s rights issues. This gathering is an opportunity for survivor activism as a means of amplifying the voices of survivors of conflict related sexual violence in discussions and debates in spaces of influence and decision-making fora. 

It is therefore our obligation - TrustAfrica, JRP, WRAPA, and Allamin Foundation -  to take this “beyond tokenism”. We in close partnership and consultation with the survivors represented by the few here, need to ensure that survivor voices, words and narratives contribute to  shaping and changing policy on transitional justice and its impact. 

This will be the ultimate value of activism by those who lived the experiences of conflict related sexual violence. 

Thank you and I wish you a successful five days dialogue and interactions.

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