“Defilement, Rape, early and forced marriage, girl child labor, sexual harassment, denial of rights to education, Denial of property rights, forceful inheritance of widows, property grabbing, Initiating women to their partners /husbands culture known as “tweyo lao”, denial of leadership positions in public and private spheres, restrictions on consuming nutritious food such as meat and eggs, exchange of girls for food and cows, the list went on and on, as women and men revealed the various violations of women and girls rights.
These revelations paint a dire and grim picture for women and girls in the Lango sub region, particularly for their advancement and realization of their life goals.
The women and girls’ rights situation is as a result of multifaceted reasons and factors notably; the deep-seated cultural beliefs, norms and practices that oppress and discriminate women and girls and also relegate them to second class citizen status; the wide spread lack of knowledge of women and girls rights by the women themselves, men and the wider societies and patriarchy that is characteristic of majority communities and tribes in Uganda among many other factors. While gender responsive and progressive legal and policy regimes for women and girls rights promotion and protection prevail in Uganda, such as the 1995 Uganda constitution, the Equal Opportunities Act 2007 and Policy of 2006 and the Domestic Violence Act 2010 as cases in point, their ineffective implementation has largely perpetuated rights violations of women and girls as the vices largely go unchecked.
The disregard of women and girls rights has resulted into undesirable conditions such as; High rates of school dropout of girls, feminization of poverty, many cases of domestic violence, break up of marriages, child mothers, high rates of HIV/AIDS infections, street children, prostitution and in worse cases, deaths of women and girls.
It is precisely for the aforesaid that ACFODE organized training workshops for a cross section of rights holders and duty bearers-female and male on Women’s rights in Amolatar and Oyam district. The training events were conducted under one of ACFODE’S projects titled “Strengthening Community Participation in Local Governance and Promotion of Women and Girls’ Rights in Lango Sub-region”, supported by Diakonia. The International convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) of 1979 was used as the key legal instrument for women’s rights promotion and protection in the training workshops. The government of Uganda ratified CEDAW in 1985 and part of the provisions have since been domesticated in the 1995 Uganda constitution and related legal and policy frameworks for achieving gender equality in Uganda.
A total of 100 rights holders and duty bearers were trained. These included selected social actors, teachers, women leaders –elected and appointed and heads of women groups, clan and religious leaders and civil society actors.
The training aimed to pass on information to the target group on women and girl rights and also equip them with hands on skills in lobby and advocacy, monitoring and reporting incidences of women and girls rights violations within their communities. The overall objective is to improve the women and girls rights situation in the Lango sub region; particularly the promotion and protection of their rights.
At the end of the two days training event, a total of 12 CEDAW committees were formed comprised of 8-10 members. 6 of the committees are situated in Oyam district while 6 are in Amolatar district. The committees were tasked with specific functions namely; Popularising CEDAW at all levels e.g. to CSOs, Duty Bearers; Continuous sensitisation of communities on gender based discrimination in order to strengthen their participation in demanding for their rights; Monitoring the implementation of CEDAW at different administrative levels; Track and report incidents of discrimination against women and how they are responded to by different people and to ensure that local leaders respond positively to gender based discrimination at all times. The CEDAW committees made action plans aligned to the most critical women and girl’s rights issues in their communities as a sign of commitment to cascade the information further at the grass roots levels within their communities.
ACFODE will continuously engage and monitor activities of the CEDAW committees to document milestones achieved and offer timely support to the committees whenever such a need arises.
“So much information has been shared during the two days training. I can assure you that we are more than ready to go out and share what we have learnt with our colleagues and the communities in which we live” revealed Obong Francis, Community Development Officer, Myene sub county, Oyam District at the closure of the training.
Yossa Immaculate Daisy
Human rights and Governance Department