By Gloria Nakiyimba
Women’s rights defender Rita Aciro has won the EU Human Rights Defenders’ Award 2021. The Executive Director of Uganda Women Network-UWONET Aciro received the award in recognition of her outstanding work to advance the role of girls and women in all aspects of life especially during Uganda’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic and during the recently-concluded election period.
Speaking during the awarding ceremony, European Union Ambassador to Uganda His Excellency Attilio Pacifici said that “unlawful killings, abductions, the beating of journalists are not the marks of a Uganda that we all wish to see in the future.”
He underlined that the European Union will not shy away from difficult conversations on these matters.
Germany Ambassador to Uganda His Excellency Matthias Schauer revealed that “Human Rights need to be defended all over the world, and Human Right Defenders have a hard time in many countries. Fortunately all over the world and also in Uganda there are people with courage and determination who will speak out for Human Rights and in particular for disadvantaged groups and support them –over coming many obstacles and often making great personal sacrifices”
Aciro has worked on topics including women’s land rights, women at the margins, women in peace building, rights and access to justice, economic rights and justice for women.
Because of her work to advance women’s rights and democratic freedoms, Ms. Aciro has faced consequences including the freezing of her organisation’s bank account for several months.
Aciro said she accepted the award “on behalf of the invisible Human/ Women Rights Defenders in the homes, communities and public spaces who may never have the opportunity to have the spotlight and stage and yet are doing a credible job in giving voice to women and girl’s rights.”