statement made by Ambassador Liberata Mulamula, the Executive Secretary of the ICGLR at Special session of the First ladies Meeting in Kampala today




Your Excellency, Janet Museveni, First Lady of the Republic of Uganda and our Gracious Host;

Your Excellency Dr. Christine Mwela Kaseba Sata, First Lady of the Republic of Zambia and the Chair of this Meeting;

Honorable, Syda Bbumba Minister in charge of Gender of Republic of Uganda; Excellencies First Ladies from the ICGLR Member States

Honorable Ministers in Charge of Gender from the ICGLR Member States; Excellencies Heads of Diplomatic Mission of the ICGLR Member States accredited to the Republic of Uganda;

Excellencies of Heads of Diplomatic Mission and International Organisation here present;

Excellencies Ambassadors and Distinguished ICGLR National Coordinators; Mzee Joseph Butiku and Honourable Immaculee Ingabire Chairpersons of Regional Civil Society Forum and Regional Women Forum respectively;

Representative and Chairperson of the ICGLR Youth Forum;

Invited Guests;

Ladies and gentlemen;

I feel great honoured and privileged to address this important Meeting of the First ladies from the ICGLR Member States focusing on Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV), a formidable challenge and source of insecurity and underdevelopment facing our region.

On behalf of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region and on my own behalf I wish to express our sincere gratitude to Her Excellency First Lady of the Republic of Uganda for welcoming us in this beautiful city of Kampala. Our appreciation is also extended to the Government of the Republic of Uganda particularly the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development under the Leadership of Honourable Syda Bbumba for accepting to host this important meeting.

I would like to heartily thank Excellencies First Ladies from the ICGLR Member States for their commitment and determination to come and support our efforts in combating Sexual and Gender Based Violence in the Great Lakes Region. Indeed, your presence here today demonstrates the importance that you attach the issue of Sexual and Gender Based Violence.

Allow me also to appreciate the support that we have received from our partners. We wish to pay tribute to the UN-Women, the Government of Norway, the Government of Sweden and GIZ for their outstanding contribution in organizing this meeting.

Excellencies; Invited Guests; Ladies and Gentlemen;

It should be noted that the ICGLR Protocol on the Prevention and Suppression of Violence against Women and Children in the Great Lakes Region which is an integral part of the Pact on Security, Stability and Development in the Great Lakes Region is also a specific legal instrument which gives mandate to the ICGLR Member States tackle effectively the problem of Sexual Gender Based Violence in our region.

However, despite the progress made, the ratification of the Pact of the Pact on Security and Stability and Development in the Great Lakes Region by the Member States and other initiatives that have been undertaken at national and regional level, Sexual and Gender Based Violence is continuously perpetrated and increasingly used as a weapon of war in our region.

Indeed, the problem of sexual and gender based violence is often perceived to be perpetuated through some repugnant traditions. But we must ask ourselves Excellencies First Ladies, would any nation embrace traditions that would jeopardize its own survival, prosperity and sustainability. Or is it inconceivable that any civilized society of people with right frame of mind would condone rape and torture of their own daughters and infants.

It is against this backdrop and following the decisions of the ICGLR Special Summit on Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources held in December 2010 in Lusaka, Zambia and the Regional Inter-Ministerial Committee Meeting (RIMC) held in May 2011 in Brazzaville, Republic of Congo respectively, the Secretariat in collaboration with the Government of the United Republic of Tanzania and partners organised a High Level Consultation meeting of Ministers in charge of Gender from the ICGLR Members preceded by the meeting of experts. Ministers of Gender made specific recommendations to the Summit.

We are convinced that the actively engagement and contributions of our Excellencies First Ladies will give impetus to the Regional efforts in fighting against the SGBV. We recognise the role of our First Ladies in eradicating this scourge but we need them to do more and be at the forefront in leading the region in the search for solution to this formidable challenge.

Indeed, we believe that the outcome of the meeting of our First Ladies shall indeed encourage our regional leaders to collectively provide lasting solutions which will put to an end the protracted problem of SGBV in the Great Lakes Region.

We appeal to Your Excellencies to consider the possibility of establishing a formal forum of First Ladies to continue helping us to create awareness, advocate and lobby for the implementation of ICGLR instruments on the fight against Sexual and Gender Based Violence in the region. I believe that your advice and commitment will significantly contribute in this endevours.

Excellency; Ladies and Gentlemen;

Finally, allow me to conclude by saying that despite some challenges, our commitment, determination and concerted efforts will enable us to prevail and achieving our objectives.

I thank you for your kind attention