Oxfam Uganda has expressed concern over the rising social norms and beliefs that have jeopardized the rights of women and girls fuelling gender based violence.
The Oxfam country Director Jane Ocaya Irama says there is need to understand that boys and girls are equal and that the male – female inequality should be challenged.
She was speaking at Oxfam National stakeholders workshop to commemorate Internationally recognized “16 Days Of Activism” against Gender Based Violence and showcasing Gender Action Learning Systems (GALS), a community led household methodology that seeks to transform power relations between women and men through joint visioning, planning and decision.
She noted that what drives violence against women and girls is gender inequality which she said is manifested through sexual violence in many areas such as work places, markets among others.
She also noted that physical violence which makes women get battered should as well be addressed.
“We see psychological violence which is a very difficult form of violence. It’s a type of violence which instigates fear, which had many ramifications in people’s lives.” She said.
Meanwhile, physical and psychological are not only forms of violence against women but also economic violence where many women are denied an opportunity to work by their husbands but have their earnings and produce taken away from them.
“We need policies and laws in place to ensure we address the challenge of gender inequality. We also need programs in place and these need to be resourced. Parliament has a big role to play in this.” She noted.
However, Pachuto added that policies and laws could be in place but failure to effect change continues because of social norms which she said are beliefs that most people think cannot change.
“Some people think it’s absolutely normal for women to be beaten. These social norms are the ones that drive society. You see them at family level, community level, national level. You see them the way people interact, even in the legal system.”
“These social norms should be changed so that we move towards transformation.”
She therefore said that GALS methodology is a very important model that can shift norms.
The model has been applied in livelihood programming to ensure that women and men begin to plan together and benefit from the resources that are generated.
She added that the model is being implemented on matters land rights for women and girls, financing to leverage the kind of shift that society deserves.
Meanwhile, Pakwach woman Member of Parliament who is also member of Uganda Women Parliamentary Association, Jane Pachuto Avulu said that despite Government programs such as Women Entrepreneurship Program put in place to address matters women finances, Parliament is endeavoring to pass Sexual offenses Bill.