In Lango sub region, specifically in Oyam district, community dialogues on issues affecting women and girls are helping to reduce the high prevalence levels of Sexual Gender Based Violence. Our interventions in this region aim at empowering marginalized girls and women to enjoy their fundamental human rights and contribute to local governance and democratic processes in Lango sub region. In this regards, we have conducted 6 community dialogues on parenting in Oyam district, encompassing 6 sub counties.

The dialogues attracted key stakeholders to include: officers in the district Education and Community Based Service Departments. These were represented by Mr. Adonyo Peter and Mrs. Tali Caroline respectively, who discussed with community members on issues affecting the lives of women and girls in the region. Some of there were; high school dropout rates of girls as compared to boys, plus, neglecting roles and responsibilities of parents, guardians, and children as well as the school management committees towards education and management of Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV).

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Pictorial impression of a community dialogue in Oyam District

It was noted that most girls got pregnant as a result of lack of enough guidance from their parents as well as the lack of knowledge on their sexual and reproductive health. Some teachers and parents also use abusive languages towards girls, thus lowering their self-esteem and courage to attend school with boys. Parents in the region remain aloof in regards to provision of sanitary wear to the adolescent girls, schools lack changing rooms for the girls and they send children to shops and markets at night.

Other causes of Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV) were that parents preferred paying school dues for boys, girls are engaged in domestic work during school days, some socio- cultural practices in the region are oppressive to women; for example women in Lango sub region are not allowed to speak in public, women are treated as property, children are not allowed to talk and as such their voices are not heard in their communities.

High prevalence rates of Sexual Gender Based Violence (SGBV) in the region were attributed to low level of incomes among households, laziness, forced marriage, greed for wealth, discrimination against women and girls, alcoholism, drug abuse, neglect, aggressiveness and lack of control over family resources by women. It was also noted that Parents and Teachers’ Association contribution was not enough to recruit enough private teachers to fill the gaps left in government aided schools. Schools further grappled with weak School Management Committees (SMCs) as well as inadequate disciplinary action against misconduct of teachers.

Oyam district has a total of 109 government aided primary schools, 145 private schools (nursery and primary), 3 tertiary institutions, and 9 government secondary schools with only one Inspector of Schools to call at all these schools.

Despite existing challenges, the engagement between the communities and district officials provided a platform for response to some of the community concerns. The district officials used this platform to gather information on issues affecting their communities. Mr. Adonyo Peter the Inspector of Schools Oyam District Local Government used the dialogues to amass information about matters causing dropout of children out of schools and committed to take disciplinary actions against teachers misconduct in all the schools in the district.

He further urged parents, members of School Management Committees (SMCs) and Parents Teachers Associations-PTAs, together with head teachers and teachers to ensure budget allocations for procurement of reusable sanitary pads, soap, changing dresses and other sanitary materials for adolescent girls.

One of the parents in attendance and person with disability- PWD, Mr. Okullu Benson from Atura parish in Aber Sub County, testified that prior to the dialogue, he overlooked his daughters needs arguing that his wife would provide all their girls’ needs. However, by the end of the dialogues, he was convinced that he had a duty towards all his children regardless of gender.  He urged fellow parents, clan leaders, and religious leaders to join hands to support the girls in schools by providing sanitary facilities and supporting schools to construct changing rooms as a way of ensuring that girls continue with their education.

Okello Robson

rokello@acfode.org

Unchaining girls from gender based violence through community dialogues

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