Violence against women, youth and girls is a serious problem in Uganda. The effects are often exacerbated by limited access to support services for victims at the community level, transportation barriers to report cases of abuse to the police station, the stigma associated with reporting, low levels of awareness on their human rights, limited temporal shelter services in most communities, poverty and the search for employment are some of the barriers women and girls encounter in our communities.
Women and girls in rural communities’ situation is worse, often ignorant of the available free healthcare services and medical support at the police station. The high levels of corruption by some public servants have reduced community member’s confidence in seeking support ranging from health care working refusing to fill in medical forms that will be used in courts of law to seek legal redress. The bureaucracies and red tape at all levels has often restrained women and girls pursuing cases of sexual harassment within the community and institutions of learning for fear of a reputation risk as a result of reporting.
The women specifically the youth entrepreneurs in the markets, marketing and sales business that have to move to the public to sell products from companies often suffer in silence for fear of losing their jobs. Often unequal pay for work done, lack of written contractual agreements, working in harsh conditions and denial of their basic labor rights e.g. maternity leave and pay for work done.
In Uganda and across the world, the #MeToo Movement, which was founded in 2006 to help survivors of sexual harassment, has highlighted the breadth and impact of sexual violence in the world of work and beyond. However, women and girls with disabilities suffer double jeopardy due to various constraints to report cases of sexual exploitation with no clear support mechanism.
In an effort to implement the SDGs majority of communities in Uganda women still encounter various challenges ranging from no drug stock outs, absenteeism of health practitioners, and access to information on available free HIV/AIDS prevention support.
With all the challenges that women go through, Nivatiti Nandujja recommend that; women economic empowerment remains critical, increased awareness on women rights remains critical for urban towards empowering communities to support the women and girls to demand for accountability from public servants. Nurturing progressive social norms and practices remains critical in empowering the rights holders to engage with the duty bearers.
There is need for deliberate efforts in ensuring that women and girls participate in policy making processes and they voices are heard as they have the solutions to the challenges that they are facing.
”More needs to be done in addressing the alarming rates of girls dropping out of school especially in the Eastern region, Uganda. This calls for a multi-level approach that address the different causes of teenage pregnancy and high school drop out of school. These include enhancing girls competency skills, challenging oppressive systems and structures that continue to support the practice of child marriages, providing sanitary towels to girls, putting in place strong social protection mechanisms for girls and advocating for gender responsive education”.- Nivatiti Nandujja said
There is a need to recognize, redistribute, and reward unpaid care work so as to support women and girls to realize their full potential, – Nivatiti Nandujja said during a phone call presentation we had with her on Gender Responsive Public Services.