The Forum for Women In Democracy (FOWODE), has called on government to bridge and address all gender gaps in order to ensure a more meaningful contribution to development by all genders thus ensuring a sustainable future.
Addressing a press conference at the FOWODE offices in Ntinda, Kampala, the FOWODE board Chairperson, Dr. Joyce Tamale, noted that most of the gender gaps have been exacerbated by the Covid-19 Pandemic.
Tamale said that 34% of women aged 20-24 years are still getting married before they are 18 years old and the adolescent birth rate is 111.4 per 1,000 for 15-19 year Olds as of 2017.
She revealed that Gender Based Violence in Uganda is among the worst in the world, where 1 in 5 women aged 15-49 are still reported to have experienced emotional, physical or sexual gender based violence compared to less than 1 in 10 for men.
“It has been said that poverty is the most prominent cause of SGBV. Women’s changing roles and responsibilities including their increasing economic independence from their husbands, is often seen to have resulted in growing tension at the household level making physical and sexual GBV chronic,” she said.
Tamale also revealed that women and girls aged 15 and above spend their 14.6% of their time on unpaid care and domestic work, compared to 8.8% spent by men, noting, “given the increased recognition of unpaid care work globally in Uganda, it is important to note that the high unemployment rate among women is possibly due to limited appreciation of considering unpaid care work as a job.”
She further noted that discriminatory customary practices in regard to women’s land rights in Uganda are still happening despite the governments adoption of the Land Act of 2004 aimed at improving women’s access to land and granting them the right to manage their property.
Tamale said closing the gender gap is essential for achieving gender-related SDG commitments in Uganda and overall Gender Equality.
Despite the gender gaps, Tamale acknowledged that there has been progress in the advancement of gender equality and women’s rights in Uganda.
“In Uganda we celebrate increased numbers of women in leadership at national and local levels, furthermore we celebrate the first gender and equality certification process in the world in law, the enactment of the 2020 law on Domestic violence, the 2019 Anti-Trafficking in persons Act, the Anti-FGM Act, among others,” she explained.
Tamale said that the number of Women members in the national Parliament, has risen from 38(14%) in 1989-96 to 131 (35%) in 2011- 2016. Adding, the special seats for women in Parliament have enabled Uganda to surpass the target of 30% set in the Beijing Platform for Action.
Currently, the country is gearing for the International Women’s Day Celebrations under the theme, ‘Gender equality today fir a sustainable tomorrow’.
Commenting on the same the FOWODE Executive Director, Patricia Munabi said that Women’s day offers an opportunity to celebrate acts of women of courage and determination that have contributed to communities, call for change, and reflect on progress made.
Munabi said for the last 27 years at FOWODE they have been making a contribution to the vision of a Ugandan society where, in all spheres, public and private, women and men share equally in decision making.
Solome Nakawesi the Imara Women’s Center Construction Chairperson noted that FOWODE, is joining the rest of the world in the struggle towards a sustainable future through the Center.
“The Imara Women’s Center will be FOWODE’s contribution to the women’s rights movement, it will be a sanctuary of learning, sharing and common purpose for all women and girls, a place to call home,” she said.
The center was unveiled in December 2021, and in January 2022, the name was unveiled.
She noted that on March 7, 2022 they will be breaking ground at the center in Kasangati, Wakiso District. The chief guest will be Kenyan Politician Martha Karua.
She revealed that they picked March 7, because March is a women’s month, and it will also help them join women across the world in taking milestones of thus far towards gender equality and reflecting on what more needs to be done.
The Center is estimated to cost a whooping 7.8 Million US Dollars, and will be built in three stages for a span of three to five years.
She rallied the world to join them in the noble cause by contributing towards the center.