United Africans for Women & Children Rights

Who We Are

Staff

Grace Akallo

Grace Akallo is Founder and Executive Director of United Africans for Women and Children Rights (UAWCR), a non-governmental organization dedicated to safeguarding the rights of vulnerable women and children, which is significant to achieving a peaceful and healthy community—a crucial component for building strong democratic institutions and economic development. UAWCR is committed to promote democratic non-violent principles, gender equity and child protection in Africa through, research, education and grass roots advocacy, and advocating for enabling policies and legislative environments from governments and the United Nations necessary for effective development and ending violence against women and girls.

Grace Akallo, who spoke about her ordeal on the Oprah Winfrey Show, is the co-author of Aboke Girl Soldier; a story of hope for Northern Ugandan children, narrating the horrors that she faced while in the rebels camp. Grace Akallo was abducted and victimized as a child-soldier in one of the most brutal rebel militia groups in Uganda, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), led by the infamous Joseph Kony, who abducted children as young as seven years old and trained them to fighters in the army. After seven anguished months of being held in captivity as a child-soldier with the LRA, Grace Akallo orchestrated her life or death escape from Sudan where the LRA had camps, bringing with her eight other former child soldiers. She persevered, enrolled in high school and graduated, attended University in Uganda, and then had an opportunity to transfer to Gordon College in the United States.

Before she founded UAWCR in 2009, Grace Akallo worked at Rachelle Rehabilitation Center dedicated to rehabilitating and reintegrating former child soldier in their communities and worked with World Vision USA, a Christian relief, development and advocacy organization dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice. As a Public Relations and Advocacy Intern, she drafted amendments for the Senate bill on children affected by war, reported on meetings and conferences such as The Interfaith Summit on Africa and drafted press releases and talking points for media conferences.

She has been a spokesperson for children in armed conflict and advocates for peace since 2004. She has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show, addressed the issue at the United Nations with Actor Lucy Liu, and Ann Veneman, UNICEF’s Executive Director and has been a guest speaker in many conferences such as Amnesty International, USA and has been featured on CNN, The Washington Post, BBC and Boston Globe and other media.

Grace Akallo testified before the United States House of Representatives, urging Members of Congress and the Bush Administration to better engage in Ugandan peace effort and testified at the hearing before the Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, and Homeland Security of the United States House Judiciary Committee to push for the passage of Child Soldier Accountability Act - Public Law 110 - 340. This Act was signed into law by George Bush on October 3, 2008; under this law the criminalization of the recruitment and/or use of child soldiers allows the US the ability to arrest and prosecute, as well as deny entry into the country, or to deport individuals who are engaged in such activities. Ms. Akallo gave a statement at the United Nations Security Council Open Debate on Children and Armed Conflict. She is founding member of the Network Young people affected by war founded by a group of young people whose lives had been harmed by war as children. There are approximately 300,000 child-soldiers around the globe.

In addition, Grace Akallo is working to end a more insidious affliction in Africa—illegal health and medical research, including forced sterilization, which is being perpetrated mainly by U.S. doctors and drug companies in Africa. Marginalized people, mainly vulnerable women and children, are used unethically as human subjects by the doctors, drug companies, research institutions and universities, without obtaining signed informed consent forms—the human subjects are mostly uneducated. Ms. Akallo was shocked by this unethical conduct after reading about Pfizer conducting the Trovan meningitis experiment in Nigeria that killed several children and led to lawsuits all the way to the US Supreme Court. She researched the issue further and found out illegal research was occurring all over East, West and South Africa; and in Uganda doctors conducted HIV/AIDs research experiments without obtaining informed consent. She is currently working with various women and children activists in the United States to call for a Congressional investigations and hearings to bring this to the attention of the public and law enforcement.

Grace Akallo has Masters from Clark University in International Development and Social in Change, Worcester Massachusetts; and Bachelors from Gordon College, Wenham, Massachusetts. Grace has also decided to obtain a law degree and is planning to attend Georgetown Law School in 2012. BACK TO TOP

Cecilia Ekayu

Policy Director

Cecilia Ekayu, a woman with a remarkable academic background and experience, is a UAWCR founding member. She has served diligently in various capacities, both in Uganda and at the international level.

Cecilia worked with AVSI/UNHCR (Association of Volunteers in International Service/United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees) as a focal person for the Sudanese Refugee girls Education based in Northern Uganda and successfully initiated and coordinated the refugee girl’s education program. She dedicated her life to addressing the unacceptable levels of gender inequality among the refugee girls by empowering them through education. She advocated for equal allocation of human and financial resources for effective gender mainstreaming as well as targeted gender equality and women’s and girls’ empowerment and rights programs—especially education and health.

Cecilia also served as a Program Manager for AIDS Care Education and Training in Northern Uganda where she provided technical leadership and gender mainstreaming. She conducted rapid gender analysis to determine the situation on the ground with particular attention on the situation of women and girls. This information was used to develop gender action plans for various sectors of the program. Her work demonstrates and acknowledges that there is a very strong causal relationship between poverty and illnesses. With this notion, she successfully empowered women economically by forming different women groups from all over the region, participated in writing of proposals to UNDP and obtained funding for these groups to undertake various income generating activities. She also advocated for participation of women and incorporation of their perspectives at all levels of decision making in order to achieve equality, development and peace.

Cecilia additionally served in the AIDS Information Center in different capacities and advocated for the rights of those infected with HIV/AIDS and made sure ethical issues and confidentiality were maintained. She lobbied and advocated for accessibility of HIV/AIDS drugs for all at no cost or affordable costs. Cecilia played a key role in creating and strengthening of the linkages between sexual and reproductive health, HIV/AIDS prevention, care and treatment through integration of all relevant services. She promoted and facilitated the inclusion of gender dimensions and incorporated gender equality in the program. Cecilia also built strategic alliance with other key actors including the government of Uganda to advocate for gender sensitive programming.

At Community Healthlink Inc., Worcester, Massachusetts; she tirelessly advocated for the rights of the marginalized populations and mobilized them to access health care services and housing that fostered stability, dignity and independence for individuals and families in Worcester who have been homeless. She fought against all forms of discrimination against women, effectively addressed issues related to gender based violence and educated the victims about their rights, mutual respect and the need to have no tolerance for human rights violations.

Cecilia Emusu has BA Education & BA Development Studies from Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda. She earned a Masters in Sustainable International Development from the Heller School of Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University, Waltham, Massachusetts; and a Masters in Public Health from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. BACK TO TOP

Ruth Tino

Director: Children’s Rights Division

Ms. Ruth Tino, a UAWCR founding member, is the Director of our Children’s Rights Division, a department charged with advocating for children’s rights and addressing all pertinent issues which affect the quality of their lives and wellbeing.

Ruth has a dynamic professional background which combines theoretical knowledge with several years of practical work experience in the Field of Development, Administration and Human Services. She has vast knowledge and experience in project planning/design, management and organizational development. Well experienced in analyzing problems, finding innovative solutions, developing and simplifying procedures. She keeps current and continuously analyzes human rights issues/humanitarian crisis, development trends and global policies in the African Diaspora.

For nearly a decade, Ruth worked with complex child protection programs in Africa and the United states. Six years working with development assistance programs, HIV/AIDS as well as Gender based programs in Africa.

As a Child Protection Specialist with the Department of Children and Families, MA, USA, Ms. Tino worked diligently with strategic partners such as the courts, schools and hospitals to address issues related to children’s rights, child abuse, neglect and exploitation. She conducted assessments, prepared numerous court affidavits, represented the Department in court, testified on behalf of affected children, formulated goals and service plans, monitored and evaluated activity implementation and coordinated effective service provision. She addressed issues of domestic violence with families and encouraged women to speak out and have zero tolerance for all forms of violence.

While serving as a Project Coordinator with the Aids Integrated Model Program in Uganda, Africa, she successfully implemented and monitored a program designed to curb the spread of HIV/AIDS/TB and provide HIV/AIDS treatment services. She promoted the use of PMTCT, supported several groups of those affected and People Living with HIV/AIDS (PLWA) while at the same time addressing gender dynamics. She reviewed and screened funding proposals, monitored partners, provided technical support, organized trainings, did follow ups, periodically evaluated progress, successfully implemented an Information, Education and Communication / Behavioral Change and Communication (IEC/BCC) strategy and also designed adolescent friendly programs to benefit the youth / young people.

Additionally, Ruth managed the Nutrition and Early Childhood Development Project in Uganda which was remarkable in assisting local communities to understand child nutrition as well as children’s rights and gender dynamics. She negotiated sub-contracts, recruited, supervised and appraised professional staff, managed project funds and assets, conducted trainings, built key partnerships and mobilized local resources.

Ruth also worked with ActionAid International, an NGO / Development Assistance Program designed to reduce poverty, improve service delivery, fight the spread of HIV/AIDS, address issues of gender equity, promote girl child education and improve socio-economic status of marginalized communities. She mobilized local communities and worked directly with them using participatory approaches to planning, implementation, monitoring and evaluating of their project thus promoting ownership and sustainability.

Ruth was awarded the Ford foundation Scholarship in recognition of her Leadership potential. Ruth is a member of CDJ, Campaign for Democracy and Justice in Uganda. She is a member of the National Association of Women Organizations in Uganda (NAWOU) and volunteered with Worcester Community Action Program (WCAC), Conflict Mediation Department, Massachusetts, USA.

Ruth holds a Masters Degree in International Development and Social Change, Clark University –Massachusetts, U.S.A. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Administration and Literature, Makerere University–Uganda. She conducted academic research on Access and Equity in Higher Education, HIV/AIDS and Women’s Social Movements and is currently pursuing a Masters Degree in Social Sector Planning and Management. BACK TO TOP