The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is contributing more than 500 bicycles to women in northern Uganda as part of its campaign to curb sexual and gender-based violence and to enhance female participation in the local peace process.
Some 516 bikes have been donated to women in four districts in the region, the scene of two decades of conflict between Government forces and the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), according to a press release issued by UNDP on Friday.
Hundreds of thousands of internally displaced persons (IDPs) have been returning home across northern Uganda since the peace talks between the two sides began two years ago, and now only a final, wide-ranging accord remains to be signed.
“Women are remarkably eager and innovative in pursuing conflict prevention and reconciliation in this region,” said Athman Kakiva, UNDP Deputy Resident Representative.
At the 30 July ceremonies where UNDP handed the bicycles over, Uganda’s Minister of State for Gender and Culture appealed for the support of men in the “peace bikes” initiative, hailing the agency for empowering communities to engender their own development.
The bicycle programme is part of UNDP’s larger sexual and gender-based violence programme which has trained over 700 women in peacebuilding, negotiation and conflict resolution skills. It is hoped that the bikes will help these women reach remote and inaccessible communities sheltering the displaced who are returning to northern Uganda.