The Minister for Gender, Labour and Social Development, Hon. Amongi Betty Ongom, has called for stronger engagement of cultural and religious leaders in the campaign to end child marriages and teenage pregnancies.
The Minister noted that the vices of child marriages and teenage pregnancies are being exacerbated under the guise of promoting cultural practices and norms in the different regions of the country.
“We should look at prioritizing sensitization through engaging cultural and religious leaders riding on the back of their influence to support the campaign to end early marriages,” Amongi said.
She was speaking during a meeting with the Ambassador of Denmark to Uganda, H. E Signe Winding Albjerg, who paid a courtesy call on her at the Ministry headquarters in Kampala on Wednesday, 15th February 2023.
The Ambassador revealed that the Danish Embassy was in the process of developing the next Country’s Strategic Framework under which various activities would be incorporated in follow-up to the Women, Adolescents and Youths (WAY) Programme.
Amongi commended the Embassy for the support it already extends to the Sauti 116 toll-free helpline through which members of the public can report incidences of Violence against Children (VAC) and Gender Based Violence (GBV).
She urged the Embassy to focus more support towards the helpline as it has been well received by the public given the high number of calls received on a daily basis. She said the effectiveness of the call centre would also add impetus to the fight against violence against children and gender-based violence.
She also underscored the importance of women’s economic empowerment in the fight to end GBV, child marriages and pregnancies.
“Poverty aggravates vulnerability. It’s therefore critical to have interventions in economic empowerment as most families opt for negotiated settlements out of GBV and violence against children cases for the economic gain,” Amongi observed.
Ambassador Signe promised that the next Country Strategic Framework would have a gender lens to ensure that the key aspects speak to each such as creating awareness of Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights as well as linkages to service providers.
The meeting agreed that a team of technical officers from the Ministry and the Embassy would meet over the next few weeks to thrash out the ideas discussed and incorporate the details in the impending Framework.
The meeting was attended by the Assistant Commissioner of Gender and Women Affairs, Maggie Kyomukama, as well as the Senior Programme Advisor- Governance at the Embassy, Charles Magala, among others.