A Voice for the Voiceless
I am Christine Adokorach, 33 years old; I am also a mother of one son and two daughters. I am a Lawyer by profession and I define myself as a feminist.
Qualities that define me as an African woman of strength
There are many qualities that define me as an African woman of strength including but not limited to courage, braveness, calmness, intelligence, friendliness, honesty, empathy, quick to action, a self starter, persuasive and charismatic.
My AWLI Experience
My experience involved learning, unlearning and relearning. For example under the personal empowerment, organization development, transfer of skills and knowledge, I learnt that women are judged in respect of their private/personal issues because of the patriarchal mind set to limit women participation in the public sphere. During this time we interrogated the institutions of marriage, family and religion and discovered that our attitudes had been shaped by them. It was from here that I committed to undo all the aspects geared at limiting/blocking me and fellow women’s participation in the private and public sphere.
In my work after the AWLI, I was able to reach out to women groups in West Nile and in Kampala among refugees; sensitized them around self-care and care for each other as a therapeutic aspect of leadership. This is because I further learned that you cannot give what you do not have.
Unique aspects of the AWLI training that stood out for me and lessons learned
One of the key aspects of the training was the topic on taking care of ourselves and each other. I have shared it extensively with several individual women, women groups during talks and in counseling, who have reported increased self-esteem and confidence including ability to share their story.
I got a new experience of knowing my person, body and taking care of myself; it was very empowering.
Reasons for every young woman to undertake the AWLI training
The training stimulates and prepares any woman to stand out of her private and public life with confidence and self-esteem. She becomes hungrier for knowledge and hence sharpens her articulacy and consistence. The training acts as a catalyst /stimulant for women of all ages to begin thinking. By the time one is out, they only want to do something to advance justice for women where ever they are.
Message to AMwA at 30 years
I first would like to congratulate AMwA for marking 30 years of advancing African women’s voices. I trust that you will continue to strengthen women’s voices on the continent and beyond. My message to AMwA is that although the feminist movement has focused on the regional and international spaces, there is need to consolidate the women movement at the grassroots for both the illiterate and literate, generate resources from within the movement for ownership, continue to identify, develop, empower mentor and facilitate young feminists to take up public offices as an activity towards achieving transformed societies.
Transforming the women’s movement from “NGOlisation” to Activism.
I believe the women’s movement continues to be challenged because it lacks its own resources ( funds, we the women should fund the movement to advance our interests and be accountable to us) and is always run on donor terms and deadlines hence change of goal posts depending on the interests of the donors, the women’s constituency is very large and needs to be reached and liberated, we have not yet attained solidarity and ownership of the movement as a women’s body with women from all walks of life. Many women have fallen out of the movement for various reasons hence need for constant refreshers and renewal of solidarity.
The women’s movement needs to have consensus, solidarity and unity; bringing together women from all walks of life. Facilitate members to participate in political leadership. Engage with religious and cultural institutions. Women have been relied on throughout time immemorial to sensitize and train children and fellow women (young women/girls) hence have played a paramount role of ensuring the continuity of patriarchy. Women are responsible for bringing up children, hospitality; teaching fellow women being married in the family/clan/tribe hence are responsible for training and sensitization on matters of custom/ tradition. Women of all walks of life should be targeted to facilitate attitude change and establish acceptable traditions and customs through the young generation
Views on the Post 2015 development framework and what I would like to see African governments commit
End armed conflict, safeguard borders against arms and human trafficking as these continue to jeopardize/thwart all efforts towards ending all forms of violence against women.
Advise to young women interested in political leadership
Have a clear understanding of women’s political, social, economic and cultural environment. You ought to be a feminist and identify with the women’s movement this will keep you on track have a personal agenda and align it with in the right political group where your interests have the possibility of being achieved. Assertiveness and confidence will be sharpened with continued interaction within the women’s movement; always consult your constituency and the women movement.
When I am long gone, I would like this world to remember me for having been a friend of women and bringing out the best out of every women and girl I got in contact with.
Learning more about Christine;
My life’s philosophy is that I do not need to have a title to be a leader, but simply identify a need and avail myself as a change agent. I was born into a polygamous family, an elder of eight siblings; leadership came in naturally for me at a tender age providing and protecting my siblings.
After my Law degree in 2006 I headed north to Adjumani district and began interning at the districts natural resources department. My stay exposed me to gross human rights abuse through courts and local government structures against the weak and ignorant communities including high prevalence of GBV hence I founded the first legal aid clinic in African Development and Peace Initiatives a local CBO. I further networked with the Legal Aid Project of Uganda Law society in Gulu to represent Clients in court at no cost which had never been in place before. It was a common occurrence for court clerks to draft both plaints and statements of defense hence for parties to a suit at a cost thwarting justice for those in the favor of the clerks and magistrate, no written judgments etc. I am grateful that I laid a foundation for increased information on rights and procedures for claiming. I also worked extensively at the early stages of the transitional justice discourse in northern Uganda where my organization was branded a rebel collaborator in a bid to shut up our voice concerning victims’ rights by the local government and district intelligence officers. Am happy I gracefully took on the conflict and with the support of OHCHR the president’s office concluded the matter clarified and apologized for the acts of their errant officer.
In 2007 I met two wonderful women in the Hague while attending a working seminar on SGBV before the ICC for countries being investigated by the court. When we returned we founded an organization in Gulu called Centre for Reparation and Rehabilitation to provide legal Aid services, advocacy for reparation and rehabilitation for victims/survivors of the LRA conflict, provision of psycho-social support. Our target beneficiaries were women and children who are the most affected. We were very active transitional justice activists, raising the voice of women survivors of the conflict.
I am currently the chairperson of a grassroots women’s organization called Rural Women’s Action to participate and decide. I founded it immediately after the AWLI in 2012; its purpose is to mobilize grassroots and rural women and women groups into a movement, provide a secretariat and training facility for the movement. I have not yet achieved this due lack of funding but I have determined to persuade the women to fund the activities through donations, subscription and membership and they are interested. My biggest challenge is time due to pursuit for personal development being a young woman; I have not yet attained financial independence. I find myself torn between working for a salary which keeps me out of action against doing what I love the most - Women Activism.
AKina Mama wa Afrika (AMwA) is one of the four partner institutes of the African Centers of Excellence (ACE) for Women's Leadership program run by the Institute of International Education (IIE) , Sub Saharan Africa- Ethiopia Office.
For more on IIE , ACE or AMwA please follow the links below.