KAMPALA – As Uganda joins the rest of the world to celebrate International Women’s Day, the Civil Society HIV Law Coalition has on Monday come together to “Break the Bias”. These include; Uganda Network on Law Ethics and HIV/AIDS (UGANET), Uganda Young Positives, and JABASA.
This year’s theme is Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow
The call comes a time when the country is faced with the challenge of teenage pregnancies. According to the United Nations Population Fund – UNFPA Uganda Fact Sheet on Teenage Pregnancy 2021, there were 31,690 teenage pregnancies in five selected districts in the Buganda region, 12,740 in two selected districts in the Busoga region, 11,146 in two selected districts in the Lango region, 8,678 in two selected districts in West Nile, and 11,660 teenage pregnancies in two selected districts in Rwenzori region.
These figures, according to the CSOs can only paint a small picture of what the national situation looks like.
“It further poses a question of what the next generation will be like? What we are going to see is certainly a generation of children who are mothers of children – but who is planning for them? Schools are open, how many have gone back to school? Those who have not gone back, what measures are put in place to ensure that they regain their lives?”
Beyond teenage pregnancy, it was also reported that cases of Gender-based violence increased in the last two years, according to the Police crime report, 2020. Sexual violence in particular defilement increased by 3.8% in 2020, Murder as a result of domestic violence increased from 360 in 2019 to 418 in 2022. These numbers present a picture of cases reported, but how money has been prosecuted? We also know that gender-based violence and HIV are a twin pandemic, and with the increase of teenage pregnancies and defilement cases, new HIV infections are inevitable.
“Therefore, as we join the world to commemorates International Women’s Day tomorrow under the theme: “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow”, we challenge all actors to “HEAR HER CRY” and take action and end all forms of violence against women and girls,” they said.
The CSOs have asked the state Actors to create an enabling environment through the implementation of legislation that protects the rights of women and girls, improve coordination among national and sub-national actors to build synergies and efficiently utilise resources to improve women and girls’ access to services and improve respondents’ support systems on SGBV.
“We also call upon the government to decisively look at the cases that have been reported and ensure that perpetrators of these crimes are brought to book.”
They say that women and girls hold a vital role in addressing the challenge of discrimination, arguing that embracing technology innovations should be prioritized since this places them at the centre of gender equality and equity.
Women and girls
- View yourselves as an asset for the development of economic growth of a country.
- Meaningful participation leads to more effective SRHR programs and policies since the women and girls themselves are better placed to voice their needs, realities, and opinions. The women and girls need to take up spaces where decisions are being made around issues that concern them.
Implementing Partners and Civil Society Organizations:
- To incorporate GBV prevention and mitigation strategies to prevent sexual violence in gender equality and equity programs.
- To engage with CSOs to strengthen their understanding of women empowerment for gender equality.
- Provide an opportunity for men and women to work together and learn effective approaches to livelihood sustainability, men will come to see the value of women’s work and more importantly, the value of women.
- Increase women and girls’ agency and assets and build their leadership skills to influence social change.
- Collect sex-disaggregated data for planning and evaluation of gender equity strategies.
- Review IEC/ community outreach materials related to discrimination against women and girls to include basic information about sexual and GBV.
They asked the media to support their efforts by bringing these cases out to light without fear or favor, and demand for accountability from those that hold positions in high offices.