Ruth is the Executive Director of Isis Women’s International Cross Cultural Exchange(Isis-WICCE), a Kampala-based women’s resource centre for women fleeing conflict.
Ruth herself had experienced the trauma of conflict, having narrowly escaped during attacks on civilians in Uganda. The country endured a 20-year period of dictatorship, and civil war—ending in 1986. Yet, violence is still a fact of life in Uganda as the government faces off against the rebel group, the Lord’s Resistance Army, and civil wars in neighbouring countries such as Rwanda and the Democratic Republic of Congo spill across the border.
Ruth uses her own experiences with trauma and violence to now help others. She has made it her mission to work with people who don’t have the freedom or space to speak out about the violence they had faced. She found her platform in Isis-WICCE.
Isis-WICCE was founded in Geneva in 1974 as a resource centre for women who had fled conflict around the world. In 1993, the group moved its headquarters to Uganda to focus its work on the root causes of what women were facing in their home countries. The group wanted to “tap into African women’s ideas” and share them with the international community.
So in the mid-1990s, Ruth and her team began to document the cases of violence in Uganda—including sexual violence. The organization brought in specialized teams of trained trauma consultants who worked directly with Isis-WICCE to provide holistic medical, psychological, and social support to the survivors of sexual violence the group had identified.
The treatment Ruth and her team provided women enabled them to return to their homes and communities as critically important economic providers.
Seeing women who were once victims—now serving as leaders in their communities—motivates Ruth to continue with the difficult work. Isis-WICCE’s documentation gathering and holistic treatment program has expanded globally, and similar programs have been successfully carried out in other post-conflict countries. Ruth also promotes women’s leadership capacityby leading training programs for women and activists.
Ruth says that this type of holistic treatment for women survivors of violence is key to building truly peaceful societies.
“There will be no fundamental transformation of post-conflict countries unless the woman’s body, mind, and spirit has been healed.”