Ugandan Grandmothers Gathering
From October 5–7 2015, hundreds of grandmothers from across Uganda made history in Entebbe. They came together for the country's first National Grandmothers' Gathering–an unprecedented opportunity for older women diversely affected by HIV & AIDS to voice their experiences, share their innovative strategies for responding to the epidemic, and collectively lay claim to constitutionally-protected rights too often denied.
The Ugandan grandmothers were joined by grandmother delegations from Kenya and South Africa, as well as by 22 Canadian grandmothers representing thousands of members of the Stephen Lewis Foundation's Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign. For the first two days of this historic gathering, the grandmothers met in workshops, to rigorously discuss the difficult issues affecting them and their communities. On the culminating day of the Gathering, they walked jubilantly through the streets of Entebbe, demanding access to education, healthcare, land, legal representation, and freedom from violence and theft. The participants then released the powerful Ugandan Grandmothers' Statement, calling on government, the private sector, civil society, media, UN Agencies and members of the international community to support their collective vision for a future in which their grandchildren and communities are thriving, and have left the ravages of AIDS behind.
Ugandan Grandmothers' Statement
We, 500 grandmothers from every region in Uganda, have come together for three days in Entebbe for the first ever National Grandmothers’ Gathering. We are celebrating our triumphs over the devastation that HIV and AIDS has wrought: over the painful losses of our loved ones, over stigma and discrimination, and over the threat to our very survival. Our love and labour has sown the seeds of new hope for our grandchildren, our families and our communities.
Our journey has been a long one, but our strength has been growing. We joined with other grandmothers in Toronto in 2006, breaking through silence and stigma. In Swaziland in 2010, we looked toward the future. Now, united in Uganda, we are claiming that future.
We have done our part. We care for the sick, we work the land, we hold our collective memory, and fueled by our love we raise the next generations, provide food, schooling, homes and security.
For far too long we have not been counted, we have not been valued, we have been made invisible. It is time for our contributions to be recognized and our rights to be protected.
Health care services must respond to the needs and realities of grandmothers and the children in their care, including: accessible grandmother-friendly HIV related services, specialized clinics and mobile care.
We must be protected from land grabbing and our property and inheritance rights guaranteed — not just on paper but in reality.
We demand an end to violence against grandmothers, whether it is domestic violence, elder abuse, or rape.
We are productive members of our society, and every government programme and policy should be designed with us in mind. But that is not enough, concrete action must be taken to ensure we can access them.
Our efforts to secure livelihoods for our families must be supported. Economic opportunities should be expanded for those of us still able to work, and social benefits extended to those who cannot. Protection from theft is essential, as well as greater access to credit and markets. We are raising generations of grandchildren ruptured by trauma, and require financial assistance and psychosocial support.
While we welcome the commitment to move the provision of social pensions from 15 to 40 districts, we urge our government to reach all of the grandmothers of our nation as soon as possible.
To our government, the private sector, civil society, media, UN agencies and members of the international community — the grandmothers of Uganda have a powerful vision for a future in which our families and communities are thriving, and have left the ravages of AIDS behind. With the support of our community-based organizations we have made huge strides, and we know a vibrant future is possible, but we cannot do it alone.
To our Canadian sisters in the Grandmothers to Grandmothers Campaign, you are an important part of our story, and we feel your solidarity as we build momentum.
We are 500 grandmothers here today, but we represent millions more. We are not young, but we are strong. We want the world to know how much we have achieved and how much we have overcome. We have breath to sing and energy to dance. We are moving forward! Join us!
Download the Ugandan Grandmothers' Statement as a PDF: English | French
International Media Coverage
The following is a selection of the media coverage the Ugandan Grandmothers' Gathering received:
The Ugandan Grandmothers Gathering was expertly organized by six of the Stephen Lewis Foundation's partner organizations in Uganda: St. Francis Healthcare Services, ROTOM, Reach Out Mbuya, PEFO, the Nyaka AIDS Foundation, and Kitovu Mobile AIDS Organization.
The Ugandan Grandmothers Gathering wouldn’t have been possible without the generous financial support of the Slaight Family Foundation and the leadership of Gary and Donna Slaight. Thank you for having the vision to support this historic gathering and the collective efforts of the Ugandan grandmothers to defend and claim their human rights.
Check out the Fall 2015 edition of our Grassroots newsletter for more on the Ugandan Grandmothers Gathering!