KAPCHORWA – Action Aid with support from United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) Uganda has donated bicycles to “Male Champions” combating Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), teenage pregnancies and child marriages in Sebei region.
Mr Samuel Ononge, Action Aid anti-FGM project officer for Sebei region said a total of 45 bicycles have been distributed to Male Action Groups (MAGs) in the hotpots Sub Counties in Bukwo, Kapchorwa and Kween districts to ease their movements in reaching communities and creating awareness on ending Gender Based Violence, FGM, teenage pregnancies forced child marriages.
FGM procedure involves altering or injuring the female genitalia for non-medical reasons and has far reaching consequences on women and girls’ health including chronic pain, infections, increased risk of HIV transmission, anxiety and depression, birth complications, infertility, getting genital keloids and in the worst cases, bleeding to death.
“We have equipped and supported our male change agents with bicycles, raincoats, gumboots and pocketable hand sanitiser for their community outreaches and engagements in creating awareness for social norm change to end FGM, Child marriage and GBV,” said Mr Ononge.
“The bicycles will help facilitate the movements of our male champions in ccommunity mobilisation to publicly declare abandonment of FGM sensitization, mediation and making community referrals of these harmful practices,” he said.
The MAGs are some of the community structures working with Action Aid International – Uganda to accelerate the abandonment of FGM, under the United Nations Population Fund – United Nations Children’s Fund, Joint Global Programme to Eliminate FGM
Ms Rebecca Khainza, Kween district focal point person for Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Programme (UWEP) handed over 20 bicycles to Kween male change agent. Bukwo and Kapchorwa received 15 and 10 respectively.
“We thank Action Aid and UNFPA for giving bicycles. You have given them extra legs to help create awareness to help rescue our girls and women,” said Khainza.
“You are our community change agents. You have a role to play to ensure our community abandons the outdated cultures of female mutilation and forceful marrying of our daughters,” she said.
FGM is considered a rite of passage for girls into womanhood and subsequently leading to child marriage, particularly among the Sabiny in Sebei, Kadam, Tepeth and Pokot communities of Karamoja sub-regions of Uganda.
The prevalence of FGM has dropped from 1.4 percent in 2011 to 0.3 percent in 2016, according to Uganda Demographics and Health Survey (UDHS, 2016).
“The movements have been a challenge to us. These bicycles will enable us to reach and respond quickly to issues of violence in the community and seenstitise the community,” said Mr Enock Mwangari, activist of Chepskunya in Ngenge Sub County after receiving his branded “Male Champion” bicycle at Kween GBV Shelter on Wednesday.
“We are determined to ensure these outdated harmful practices are completely abandoned and eliminated in our communities,” said the 27-year-old.