Cry Karamoja Women!

Through a qualitative lens, are you, the women of Karamoja, convinced that the two Karimojong men in Cabinet are able and are fully equipped to represent the Karimojong women’s voice during policy initiation and discussion sessions in Cabinet?

Lady Justice Jane Francis Abodo at home at Ateker Cultural Centre Karamoja.
Photo Credit Hannah Longole

What about the two men of Bantu ancestry currently appointed ministers for Karamoja Affairs? Are they the ones that are the most qualified and most competent to present, defend and advocate for the views of Karimojong women, during Cabinet sessions?

When push comes to shove, as the national cake is divided during a Cabinet meeting, whose interests will the current ministers of Karamoja Affairs prioritise? Will it be those of their constituencies in the greater south or those of the Karimojong? And will the two non-Karimojong men, prioritise women specific issues that are unique to Karamoja at such a Cabinet meeting?

Lady Justice Jane Francis Abodo at home at Ateker Cultural Centre Karamoja.
Photo Credit: Hannah Longole

Since 2016, when the two Bantu men were appointed ministers for Karamoja Affairs, what are their major achievements for Karamoja? Have they since established residence within Karamoja, where they stay for significant lengths of time that allows them to familiarise with the unique way of life of the people of Karamoja and the position of the Karimojong women within your unique way of life?

What do the two Bantu men appointed ministers for Karamoja Affairs know about the unique pastoralist way of life – combining animal and crop agriculture – as it is practiced in Karamoja? Do they advocate for it or do they denigrate it? Do they enable the Karimojong pastoralism way of life to evolve or do they think it backward and needing to be wiped out completely?

Lady Justice Jane Francis Abodo sharing here experience and words of wisdom during the First Karamoja Women Conference at Hotel Leslona in Moroto in Karamoja on Saturday, 28th December 2019. Photo credit: Ateker Cultural Centre Karamoja

Are the two Bantu men appointed ministers for Karamoja Affairs aware at all of allegations of systematic trafficking of girls from Karamoja to Teso, to Kampala, to Nairobi and other destinations, for sexual and labour exploitation?

If they are aware, are they simply turning a blind eye to it? Are they complicit? Or are they doing something about it. What are they doing about it?

Are the two Bantu men appointed ministers for Karamoja Affairs aware of research findings that found that Karamoja has the highest number of tuberculosis (TB)-HIV co-infected patients in greater northern Uganda?  Are they aware that Kaabong is the district within Karamoja with the highest TB-HIV co-infections? If so, what have they done about it?

These questions that I pose herein, and many others, should be asked and answered; and actions taken. I trust that you catch my drift. However, if this speech, so far, has not made you uncomfortable or even outraged, then I have failed miserably.

This is part of the keynote address that I gave to the First Karamoja Women Conference, themed: Women, Power Up: Breaking Barriers to Socio-Economic Development” that was held at Hotel Leslona in Moroto in Karamoja in Uganda and was attended by 100s of women from all over Karamoja. Continue reading, download a PDF of the full text of the address here.

Blog post photo of Lady Justice Jane Francis Abodo taken by Hanna Longole at Ateker Cultural Centre Karamoja.

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