The Pakwach district LC5 Chairman Robert Steve Omito has revealed that child marriages and early pregnancies in his district stand at 24.8%.
Omito was speaking to journalists at Oxfam Uganda national stakeholders workshop in Kampala on Monday to showcase Gender Action Learning Systems (GALS) methodology.
“In Pakwach, teenage pregnancies and early marriages stand at 24.8% which is so worrying. We have records of girls at 12 who are pregnant,” he said.
The event which was held under the theme “Challenging gender biases using Gender Action Learning Systems (GALS);” aimed at demonstrating how GALS methodology is used to mainstream gender development interventions.
The words of Omito were reaffirmed by Pakwach woman MP Jane Pachuto Avulu who said that it’s not uncommon in Pakwach to find a 13-year-old girl with a child.
Pachuto partly attributed the challenge to polygamous bodaboda riders.
“If you go to Pakwach and you ask a bodaboda rider; how many wives do you have? It must be three because every girl is attracted to this man who can ride around and make money every day.”
GALS is a community led household methodology spearheaded by Oxfam that seeks to transform power relations between women and men through joint visioning, planning and decision.
On the issue of Government programs to empower women especially financially such as Operation Wealth Creation, Omito said it has not done much because it was not pre planned.
“Operation Wealth Creation to some extent has not done much. Why? because we did not have an approach of first preparing these women. Operation Wealth Creation just came in like something that fell in the middle of the night.”
He noted that though Government provided extension workers, they are not doing enough.
“They (extension workers) are only looking at the money part of it so you find all these monies Government bring thinking that they would address the challenges, make women and young girls so vulnerable in the hands of those predators who want to take advantage.”
He noted that Government has a lot of money but the money is misused.
“Women were not guided on how to get this money, how to tap it, how to best use it. That is why economic challenge still remains a problem.”
He applauded GALS methodology which he said is paving a way for women and girls in Pakwach to live better lives.