Media advisory: Book launch and workshop on women and girls in conflict: Learning from lived experience to inform policy responses

Date: Wednesday, June 8, 2016

What:

The New York launch of Evelyn Amony's memoir, I Am Evelyn Amony: Reclaiming my Life from the Lord's Resistance Army, reflects on Amony’s life as the forced wife of Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord's Resistance Army. Amony’s book provides a rare glimpse inside the Ugandan rebel group, which continues to operate in Central and East Africa, and what it has meant to survive this experience, including the stigmatization and grinding poverty she faced after returning home. 

The launch will be followed by an all-day workshop that will use Amony’s book as a starting point for a discussion on learning from lived experiences to develop better policy responses, highlighting personal stories from Uganda, Kenya and Colombia and looking at other contexts, like Nigeria. The workshop will explore peace and security issues with the aim of building greater understanding of context-specific and gender-responsive impacts of conflict, including issues such as conflict-related sexual violence leading to motherhood.

When:

Book launch: Wednesday, 15 June, 5.45–7 p.m. EDT

Workshop: Thursday, 16 June, 9.30 a.m.–5.30 p.m. EDT

Where:

Book launch: Japan Society, Murase Room, 333 East 47th Street, New York, NY

Workshop: Permanent Mission of Canada to the United Nations, 885 Second Avenue, 14th Floor, New York, NY

Who:

Book launch with author Evelyn Amony

Workshop will feature panel discussions with survivors of conflict, policymakers, practitioners and donors including:

  • Evelyn Amony, Author of I am Evelyn Amony and Head, Women’s Advocacy Network, Uganda

  • Jacqueline Mutere, Founder, Grace Agenda, a community-based organization to support survivors of sexual violence, Kenya
  • Maria Alejandra Martinez, former child soldier, Colombia
  • Michael Grant, Ambassador and Deputy Permanent Representative, Canada
  • Abdoulaye Bathily, Under-Secretary-General and Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Central Africa and Head of the United Nations Regional Office for Central Africa
  • Leila Zerrougui, Under-Secretary-General, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Children and Armed Conflict
  • Zainab Bangura, Under-Secretary-General, Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Sexual Violence in Conflict
  • Lakshmi Puri, Assistant Secretary-General and Deputy Executive Director, UN Women
  • David Tolbert, President, International Center for Transitional Justice
  • Erin Baines, Associate Professor, Liu Institute for Global Issues, University of British Columbia
  • Naureen Chowdhury Fink, Head of Research and Analysis, Global Center on Cooperative Security
  • Dyan Mazurana, Associate Research Professor, Research Director at the Feinstein International Center at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Tufts University
  • Jackie Seck Diouf, Deputy Director, Africa Division, UN Department of Political Affairs
  • Nahla Valji, Deputy Chief, Peace and Security Section, UN Women

The workshop is co-organized by UN Women, the International Center for Transitional Justice, and the Liu Institute for Global Issues, University of British Columbia, and generously supported and hosted by the Permanent Mission of Canada to the United Nations.

 

Twitter hash tags: #IAmEvelyn (book launch) #SurvivorsSpeak (workshop)

Media Contacts

Refik Hodzic, Communications Director, International Center for Transitional Justice
E-mail: rhodzic[at]ictj.org Tel: +1 917-637-3853

Maria Sanchez, Media Specialist, UN Women
E-mail: maria.sanchez[at]unwomen.org Tel: +1 646-781-4507

Lindsay Marsh, Manager, Communications and Programme Development, Liu institute of Global Issues, University of British Columbia, Vancouver, B.C.
E-mail: Lindsay.marsh[at]ubc.ca Tel: +1 604-822-1672

Background

Evelyn Amony’s autobiography, I am Evelyn Amony: Reclaiming My Life from the Lord’s Resistance Army, documents her life as the forced wife of Joseph Kony, leader of the armed rebel group the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA). Abducted as a young girl, Amony first trained as Kony's personal escort before becoming his wife at age 14 and bearing three of his children. Her book provides unprecedented insights into the organization of the LRA during the 11 years she was held captive; the relationships that defined it and her experience; and a reflection on what it has meant to survive this experience. Evelyn was rescued from the LRA in 2004 and reunited with her family and two of her children. One of her children is still missing, lost in battle. A year later, she joined the Juba Peace Talks to act as a liaison between Kony and the peace delegates. Picking up from the point that the talks ended, her book tells the story of her daily struggle to care for her children and extended family and the poverty, social stigma and trauma that she endured daily. It also tells how she works to repair her relationships with others and build a future, including by forming a survivors’ group called the Women’s Advocacy Network—supported by UN Women—to share stories, give peer support and form collective groups. 

While the prevalence of sexual violence in conflict is receiving increased media, policy and academic attention (through events like the Global Summit to End Sexual Violence in Conflict), the majority of the resultant reports and responses miss the voices of survivors and focus on their short-term needs. They largely overlook the long-term impacts, including the needs of children born of wartime sexual violence.

The all-day workshop aims to help bridge that gap by bringing together survivors of conflict from Uganda, Kenya and Colombia. These women are now leaders in their respective communities, advocating for their rights and for the rights of children born of wartime sexual violence, and seeking justice and social repair. Engaging with survivors forces outsiders to move past their own preconceived notions, to really listen to the priorities and greatest challenges identified by these women and their suggestions for potential solutions. That dialogue can be the basis for more responsive and realistic programming.