Government has been urged to follow up on its obligations to protect and promote rights of women and girls especially during the Covid 19 pandemic.
The call was made by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) representative in Uganda, Mr Alain Sibenaler during the official launch of the State of the World Population report that took place on Wednesday at the UNFPA offices in Kampala.
Alain noted that since the lockdown that came as a result of the outbreak and spread of Covid 19 pandemic and due to the closure of schools, there has been a noticeable increase in cases that degrade the rights of women and girls like child marriages, domestic and gender based violence in Uganda and across the global.
“Research shows that 4million girls globally have undergone genital mutilation while 33,000 underage girls will be forced into child marriages which is alarming. In Uganda, the preference of child marriages is still above 40% which is still too high. There are also still high rates of genital mutilation especially in areas of Kapchorwa, Kween, Moroto, Amudat among others,” Alain said.
He urged the government of Uganda to put emphasis on implementation of the policies that have been put in place to protect the rights of girls and women, but also come through on its obligations and commitments in some of the international treaties that Uganda has signed too.
“All United Nations Member States have ratified at least one human rights treat, obliging them to respect, protect and fulfil all human rights. Protecting girls and women against harmful practices is an international recognised human right and each government must do everything possible to ensure these rights are upheld,” he said
“Uganda must ensure access to justice for all victims and ensure there is no impunity in persecution of these cases, make sexual reproductive health services available for all but also ensure that all families have some kind of income so that girls are not used as a source of income,” he added.
Chalse Zirarema, the Director Policy, Planning and Programming at the National Population Council noted that government is doing everything possible to ensure there is community sensitisation against practices that degrade the rights of girls and women and that everyone has access to health services and information, however, they are limited by lack of enough funds to reach all villages.
“We have deployed community development officers to sensitive communities about the need to keep girls in schools and have access to other rights, however we cannot deploy in evert village in Uganda because we do not have the funds for that, we however are encouraging community leaders to use solutions that are community led to solve these bad practices against girls and women,” he said