The 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence is an international campaign which takes place each year and runs from 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day. It was originated by activists at the first Women's Global Leadership Institute in 1991 and is coordinated each year by the Center for Women's Global Leadership. It is used as an organizing strategy by individuals and organizations around the world to call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls.
This year’s National theme is “From Peace in the Home to Peace in the Nation: Male engagement for the Safety of Women and Girls! Over the 16 days period the Domestic Violence Act Coalition will engage the communities under the national and regional theme; Every girl counts, what action will you take to keep girls in school?
The theme highlights the need to focus attention on the retention of girls in schools by highlighting structural discrimination of girls throughout the education system right from the home, the school setting, and government policy that impact girls access to education and their experience. The campaign builds onto global efforts to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education articulated in Sustainable Development Goal 4 and 5(Gender Equality) as well as the commitments by Government of Uganda to ensure universal education for all.
Although education is a fundamental human right and governments have committed to ensuring free and compulsory education for all, girls still find it hard to access and advance into higher levels of education. Girls face the biggest barriers in education including; early marriage, teenage pregnancy unfavorable policies, sexual harassment, rape and defilement, social and gender norms that prevent girls from accessing and completing school.
Currently in Uganda women and girls face violence at alarming rates. Reports indicate that;
Violence against women and girls remains epidemically high in Uganda and hinders social and economic development, it prevents girls and women’s equal participation at social, economic and political level, it is extremely costly to families, communities and nations, and it is a profound symbol of gender inequality and social injustice. Additionally, it is a public health concern; increases woman and girls risk to poor health and a driver for HIV/AIDS.
Notwithstanding the fact that the Government of Uganda has over the years demonstrated commitment to prevent and respond to VAWG through the development of appropriate legal and policy frameworks (i.e. the Domestic Violence Act 2010, Anti-female Genital Mutilation Act 2010, the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act of 2009 and the National Policy for the Elimination of Gender Based Violence (GBV), VAWG remains a major obstacle to the empowerment of women. Gaps exist due to limited funding for effective prevention and response efforts, inadequate resourcing of the Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development, the Justice Law and Order Sector (JLOS) institutions, and limited capacity of duty bearers and other stakeholders to implement the legal and policy frameworks.
Uganda has adopted the theme “From Peace in the Home to Peace in the Nation: Male Engagement for the Safety of Women and Girls” based on the prevalence and high levels of social acceptance for VAWG in Uganda currently at 58% for women and 44% for men, (UDHS 2011) and a recognition that the prevention, response and elimination of VAWG requires broad community participation and in particular the engagement of men and boys. Involving men and boys as partners to achieve women’s empowerment and gender equality is an important component of ending violence against women and girls . Accountability to women and girls at every level of male involvement efforts is critical to ethical and effective violence against women and girls programming and to securing women and girls’ full and equal rights. Without accountability, the danger that men are in charge persists; in this case, of women’s rights and well-being, which further undermines women and girls’ agency, voice and leadership, thereby reproducing the very inequality that violence against women and girls work is attempting to shift.
We therefore call for action and demand that;
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