Franciscans International recently conducted a follow-up visit to Uganda, where sisters and brothers support local communities who continue to be exposed to a range of human rights violations, often rooted in the prevalence of extreme poverty. Young women and children are particularly at risk of harmful practices, including female genital mutilation, early marriages, and human trafficking. In 2020, Franciscans decided to raise these and other issues at the United Nations.
“The Franciscan family in our country has carried out a lot of charitable work among the poor and the marginalized,” says Sister Leonie Kindiki of the Little Sisters of Saint Francis. “But however much we labored, the oppressive structures continue to exist. While we were busy helping the people, we neglected the root causes of poverty and related issues.” By combing local efforts with UN advocacy, the Franciscans aim to address the root causes of these problems.
Following a training by FI in 2021, the Franciscan family and its allies organized a series of community visits in eastern Uganda. The findings formed the basis of two reports that were submitted to the UN ahead of Uganda’s examination under the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and by the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).
In November 2022, FI visited Kampala again to take stock of the outcomes of these efforts at the UN. In a workshop attended by members of the Franciscan family – including young Franciscans – and partners from other faith-based organizations, we explored different avenues to effectively follow-up on selected recommendations obtained at the UN. During Uganda’s UPR, 16 out of the 28 recommendations made in our submission were reflected in the final UN report, and participants also looked at different ways to integrate the monitoring of their implementation into their daily activities.
This workshop was complemented by meetings with civil society leaders and government authorities, including the Uganda Police Force, the National Population Council, and the National Children Authority. At the end of the training, one of the participants remarked that “the content transmitted to us has really been done with an optic of sustainability. FI really cares about our work at the grassroots level, which is highly appreciated.”
FI will continue to support its partners’ follow-up efforts at the national level and is also preparing a report with them that will be submitted ahead of Uganda’s upcoming examination by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child.