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16 days of activism – 2018

The theme of the 2018 Campaign is “End Gender-Based Violence in the World of Work.” This year’s theme builds on the momentum and achievements during the 2017 campaign, when over 700 organizations in 92 countries campaigned around the theme of “Together We Can End GBV in Education.” Our goal for 2018 is to continue to target the institutions in which gender-based violence is perpetuated and push for systemic change and accountability.

rom 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day, the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign is a time to galvanize action to end violence against women and girls around the world. The international campaign originated from the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute coordinated by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership in 1991.

For far too long, impunity, silence and stigma have allowed violence against women to escalate to pandemic proportions—one in three women worldwide experience gender-based violence.

The time for change is here and now.

In recent years, the voices of survivors and activists, through campaigns such as #MeToo, #TimesUp, #Niunamenos, #NotOneMore, #BalanceTonPorc and others, have reached a crescendo that cannot be silenced any more. Advocates understand that while the names and contexts may differ across geographic locations, women and girls everywhere are experiencing extensive abuse and their stories need to be brought to light.

Clergy blame child marriages on traditional marriage fetes

Religious leaders in Teso sub-region have blamed the high rates of child marriages in the region on traditional marriage ceremonies which they argue entice underage girls to want to copy those that are married off in traditional ceremony.

Rev. Sam Ediau, the education coordinator of Church of Uganda Soroti diocese expressed concern that parents have made it a habit to ‘subject’ adolescent girls to ‘being attractive centre pieces’ while at traditional marriage ceremonies. Rev. Eduau says that the practice of actively involving girls in such marriage ceremonies puts them in the mood for marriage. He wants girls discouraged from taking part in such ceremonies.

“It’s now becoming a routine that during introduction ceremonies you have seven year-olds, because they want biscuits, sweets, you find them dancing in a funny way. I don’t know what we are going to do about it,” Rev. Ediau said.

Rev. Ediau says that due to the early marriages, Teso region is experiencing worrying levels of school drop outs arising from child pregnancies.

According to Amos Oluka, the Senior Probation Officer for district, 80 percent of young girls in the district start families before making 18 years. He also blames the desire among parents to obtain bride price as a key motivating factor.

“Whereas early marriages are seemingly rampant in the rural areas, there are very many aspects that have pushed these girls to early marriages such as cultural tendencies,” Oluka told Sunrise.

 

Children at a traditional marriage ceremony

Other sources, including studies however attribute the high rates of child marriages not on traditional ceremonies but rather on poverty, sexual abuse that forces parents to force the offenders to marry off their daughters.

Florence Atim, the in charge child-family and protection Unit Soroti remaked for example that most early marriages have resulted from cases of defilement in the district.

“The poverty situation coupled with rude utterances from parents, and peer groups among others have largely caused girls to leave home for early marriage,” Atim explained.

According to the Uganda Demographic and Health Survey (UDHS) 2016; 25 per cent of adolescents aged 15-19 have begun childbearing and 19 per cent of women aged 15-19 have given birth.

According to the website, girlsnotbrides.org, nearly 1 out of every 2 girls below 18 years in Uganda gets married before making 18 years. Uganda has the highest level of teenage pregnancies in Africa. Nearly 1 in every 2 girls in Uganda is married before the age of 18. Poverty, traditional and social norms, insecurity that causes displacement as key drivers of child marriages.
“Many parents marry their daughters in the hope of securing their financial security.

Bride price can also be a motivation for parents: a younger bride means a higher bride price for the family.”

The government launched the National Strategy to end Child Marriage and Teenage Pregnancy On June 16, 2015 during celebrations to mark the Day of the African Child.

 

 

Where child marriages are the norm

Sophia Nangobi sits quietly under a huge muwafu (African canarium) tree, a few feet away from the labour ward of Mayuge Health Centre III. It seems she is bored because she plucks a piece of grass, puts it in her mouth, and begins to chew on it.

Everything about the bare-footed girl, including her shyness when I approach her, is girlish. But, it remains just that – impressions. Rooting around in the grass, as if searching for something precious, is Nangobi’s eight-month-old daughter, Shuleya Nabirye. At 17, Nangobi has so far spent three years in marriage. She is also unemployed.

“I’m happy in my marriage,” she says quietly, probably wondering why I should ask. Her husband, Sadat Muwanika, 20, is a boda boda rider in Mawumu Parish, which about 11km from Mayuge town. For riding a customer this distance, a boda boda rider earns Shs1,000.

“I’m the last born of eight children brought up by a single mother,” Nangobi says. “When I got to Primary Five, my mother could not afford the Shs20,000 for school fees, so I dropped out of school.”

When Muwanika approached her for a relationship, there was nothing stopping her. With her mother’s blessing, Nangobi became Muwanika’s wife at 14.

It is school or marriage
There is a general agreement that attending school stands as a buffer between rural girls and child marriage. However, Universal Primary Education (UPE) is no longer free in rural areas because parents – who are often living under the poverty line – have to pay for school requirements such as pens, exercise books, uniforms and lunch. Girls like Nangobi fill up the statistics of the number of girls dropping out of school every year. But, unlike others who would jump at the chance to resume their education, Nangobi is comfortable with her lot.

“I do not want to return to school even if someone offered me money,” she says, adding, “I want to give birth to four more children and look after our home.”

As we are talking, a heavily pregnant woman emerges from the labour ward. From a distance, she looks like she could be above 30 years old, but that is probably due to that special way in which a nine-month pregnancy can sap the liveliness out of a woman. The woman is Jennifer, Nangobi’s sister. At 20, this is her third pregnancy.

“The nurses say I’m due to deliver any day now,” she says, as she struggles to sit on the ground. She is married to a farmer and they had their first child two years ago. The girls came to the health centre without an emergency bag of delivery items such as gloves and a Macintosh sheet. Since they are returning home, it is likely that Jennifer may give birth from home before they have time to return to the health centre.

To the rescue
Olivia Kawuma Aliyenka, a retrenched nursing assistant, encounters pregnant teenagers on a daily basis. The 56-year-old is a member of a Village Health Team (VHT) and moves around villages offering basic health education to different families. Of late, her duties include urging first-time mothers – who can be as young as 13 years old– to deliver in a health facility.

At about midday, she rides her bicycle into Mayuge town and parks outside a church where a man is setting up a small table, two chairs and two benches under a mvule tree. The mobile vaccination team is scheduled to spend the entire day in this location. Aliyenka has come to offer a helping hand.

“This is a town and there are a lot of things for young girls to admire,” she says, adding, “Some parents send their daughters to school without anything to eat, yet they are at an age where they crave so many things.

Then, there are the boda boda men who entice them with little money. I can only compare these boda boda men to a plague when it comes to young girls. In my experience, many of these teenage girls suffer obstetric complications during delivery and are usually recommended for C-section deliveries, which at Shs300,000, are expensive.”

Aliyenka, therefore, also sells them vouchers cards under the Uganda Reproductive Health Voucher Project (URHVP). These vouchers, sold at Shs4,000, enable pregnant girls to receive antenatal care, medical help during delivery, postnatal care and free C-sections when referred by the doctor.

“I ride more than 5kms out of town every day and over the years I have witnessed a big attitude change in rural women. They are now more eager to deliver their babies at health facilities instead of their homes or in the homes of traditional birth attendants.

In fact, towards the end of last year, 15 women gave birth at the health centre in a single night. Previously, there would be only two women on any given night.”

Searching for a way out
There are many brick huts in the compound where Sauda Nkoma lives with her husband. The compound belongs to her husband’s clan. It is easy to see that Nkoma is not happy with her situation in life. The 19-year-old got pregnant at 17; her husband was three years older.

Now, they have a one-year-old son, Asumani Musaku. “I regret getting this ‘accident’ at a young age,” she says, adding, “In fact, I do not want to get pregnant again, maybe in the next three years. I’m now using inject plan. My parents were very angry with me. I think they hated me at the time. There is nothing good about getting married when you are young.”

Nkoma got pregnant after she had completed Senior Four at Delta High School. The yearning to return to the classroom is evident in the girl. Teenage mothers in the rural areas in most cases face more obstacles in their ability to pursue educational opportunities than young women who delay childbearing.

Nkoma’s husband does not have a steady job and he takes on whatever job comes his way. “Life was not good for us. We had no hope of getting a way to earn a living until I enrolled for a training opportunity with BRAC.”

In December 2016, BRAC Uganda in Mayuge District, with funding from UNFPA, offered a three-day livelihood training to a number of teenage mothers and girls who had dropped out of school. The trainings, as a grassroots intervention, are offered with the hope that economically empowered girls (and their families) are less likely to become victims of child marriage and teenage pregnancy. From the training, Nkoma received two goats.

“If this female goat keeps on producing, with five healthy goats, I can sell each at Shs60,000 and buy a cow. I would then sell the cow and buy a piece of land. I wish BRAC could give us cows, seeds and land.”

BIG PICTURE
The effects
Children born to young mothers are at increased risk of sickness and death, while teenage mothers are more likely to experience adverse pregnancy outcomes.

Also because these girls get pregnant before the right age, child marriages and teenage pregnancies have huge implications on the maternal health of the country.

Besides, most of these girls get married to older men so there is a high likelihood of domestic violence in the marriage.

“These marriages have implications on education of the girl-child and the country as many girls are now dropping out to get married,” adds Peninah Kyoyagala, Programme Analyst, Adolescent Health – UNFPA.
World Bank research on Uganda shows that teenage marriages account for about 36 per cent school dropouts.

The policies
Since government developed the National Strategy to end Child Marriage and Teenage Pregnancy, an inter-ministerial committee was formed to provide guidance on the interventions around child marriage.

Government is also mobilising civil society organisations to invest in the area of ending child marriage. There is also the Youth Livelihood Fund, which was formed to reach out to girls who are at risk of child marriage due to poverty.

On June 16, 2015, on the Day of the African Child, the government launched the National Strategy to end Child Marriage and Teenage Pregnancy. The strategy outlines approaches and interventions that will end child marriage and teenage pregnancy in Uganda.

The statistics
According to the Uganda Demographic and Health Survey (UDHS) 2016;
• 25 per cent of adolescents aged 15-19 have begun childbearing and 19 per cent of women aged 15-19 have given birth. Adolescent childbearing is more common in rural than in urban areas (27 versus 19 per cent, respectively).
• Teso sub-region has the highest proportion of adolescents who have begun childbearing and Kigezi sub-region the lowest (31 and 16 per cent respectively).
• Teenagers in the lowest wealth quartile tend to begin childbearing earlier than those in the highest quartile (34 versus 15 percent, respectively). This is due to poverty which makes it easy for young girls to be lured into sex, parents’ mindsets to child marriages, and low education attainment.

Girl-Friendly Latrine to Boost School Attendance

Overriding goal of the project is to ensure Girls from 5 schools in Soroti District, Uganda will not have to miss school simply because they are menstruating. The project aims to install sanitary facilities by construction of 5 VIP Latrines, each with a water tank (rain harvest), well-furnished changing room for girls, and provision of hand washing facilities to support vulnerable girls. With your donation, we will enable girls to manage their periods and improve girl's education.

Challenge

At school, girls are faced with poor facilities -inadequate water for washing, lack of soap, no privacy and non-functioning or insufficient toilets. This reduces school attendance and often leads to girls dropping out of school during their menstrual periods. Adolescent girls are often absent from school due, in part, to inadequate water, sanitation facilities. At all times, girls need facilities that provide privacy, security to avoid risk of harassment.

Solution

The project aim is to construct 5 latrines of 5 stances each with wash rooms/changing room and to provide reliable clean washing water for girls of menstruating age in 5 schools identified in the Soroti district. Also, to reduce the high pupil to latrines ratio and provide a separate girls' pit-latrine with washing facilities and clean water in the 5 schools, this will ensure school attendance of girls during menstruation and increase the number of girls with qualifications.

Long-Term Impact

By the end of the project 5 public schools shall serve as role models in providing girls' sanitation facilities and capacity building for 2000 rural young but sexually maturing girls. Menstrual management, drop-outs for girls are expected to reduce considerably. 5 girl-friendly latrines constructed in 5 schools with washing facilities and clean water will ensure school attendance of girls during menstruation and increase the number of girls with qualifications.

To support this program please donation using the form below

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Drinking water for a primary school in Uganda

SCOEN plans to connect tap water to Akaikai Primary School which is a government aided school found in Soroti, Uganda and the only better performing school. Akaikai has a Population of 1034 pupils and is a beneficiary of SCOEN's WASH Program (Girl-Friendly Latrines to girls school attendance) whereby a latrine is been constructed. You donation will provide drinking water, improve their grades, pupils spend much time toiling for clean drinking water 2.3Kms away from school.

Challenge

When approaching the School one can't help but smile upon hearing the unavoidable sound of more than 1024 pupils playing while others confidently recite their alphabet. The pupils walk 2.3Km to find clean drinking water, also lack basic infrastructure such as clean latrines and safe water supply. This is a reason for children to be absent and drop out from school eventually. Water supply is not available in school, so teachers/children have to bring water from other sources about 3Kms away.

Solution

This project will provide clean and sanitary drinking water (Tap Water) and 2 secured storage tanks, improving the health and future of the Learners. SCOEN believes that all children should have clean water and access to life-changing health and hygiene education. Our goal is to provide quality water to Akaikai Primary School, essential to SCOEN's strategic focus in Soroti.

Long-Term Impact

Through this project children will attend class fully, improve on their grades, creates a plentiful source of low cost refreshment throughout the day; encourages good health and wellbeing among pupils and staff; reduces tiredness, irritability and distraction from thirst; can have a positive effect on pupils' concentration throughout the day and school.

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Girls Parliament to end child marriage in Uganda

SCOEN proposes an innovative approach to end child marriage through the use of digital technologies. We aim to provide young and teenaged girls with the tools they need to participate in community decision-making to take charge of their own futures. Through the creation of "Digital Learning Clubs and Spaces" and "Life Schools" for girls and young women, the program educates girls about sexual and reproductive rights and health, use political and community advocacy to end child marriage.

Challenge

Child marriage is a major impediment to girls' and women's human rights and to overall development. In Uganda today, a staggering over 37% women were married as children, and 10% married before their 15th birthday. The tradition of dowries contributes to the prevalence of child marriage in girls often serve as payment for debt between one family and another. Such customs deprive girls and women of their rights and undermine efforts to improve girls & women status.

Solution

The program aims to provide community members with access to and training in the use of digital technologies to obtain and disseminate information about children's rights, to raise awareness about the harms of child marriage, to advocate to end child marriage, and to make them aware of the means of prevention. The objective is to harness digital technologies to facilitate and catalyze awareness-raising about child marriage and to strengthen lobbying to put an end to this harmful practice.

Long-Term Impact

Your giving will provide 120 young women with training to lead "Girls' Parliaments" enabling them to become change agents in their communities and to contribute to raising community awareness about children's rights, child marriage, and women's sexual and reproductive health and rights, equip parents with the knowledge they need to be effective advocates of girls' and women's rights and to be able to take action to end child marriage. Together, we can end child marriage!

Leap forward to end child marriage in Uganda

SCOEN-Uganda supports new legislation to help eradicate child marriage in Uganda within a generation

7 million child brides

Child marriage affects 70 million girls in the world and Uganda have child brides.

The model law has been developed in response to this high prevalence of child marriage in Africa, which is largely driven by high poverty levels, gender inequality, traditions, religion and limited educational opportunities for girls. It will provide guidance to parliamentarians, ministries of justice, policymakers, and other stakeholders in Southern African countries as they develop national laws.

Working in partnership

The new model law eliminates several loopholes that make current laws ineffective and unenforceable including those around parental and judicial consent, and conflicts between customary and statuary laws.

Advancing girls’ equality for much more than one day

What would the world look like if girls were equal to boys? This year’s International Day of the Girl provides a tantalizing glimpse of the change we want to see, writes Plan International CEO Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen.

Imagine a world where girls and young women are seen and heard, occupying positions of influence within their communities and beyond. Today, on 11 October, you don’t have to imagine: girls will be stepping into the shoes of political, social and economic leaders in a mass takeover that will make the invisible lives of girls – both their plight and their potential – truly visible.

By the end of the day, there will have been over 250 takeovers in more than 50 countries. From the President of Nepal and the Vice-President of Paraguay to the Minister of Finance in Canada, leading figures will be stepping aside; in Uganda, a girl will take over as speaker of the national parliament; in Guinea-Bissau, a young woman will co-host a national TV debate; in China and Thailand, girls will take over their teachers’ roles, and in Indonesia a girl is taking over the role of the Minister of Manpower.

When girls see what is possible, they are more likely to be inspired for themselves and to become active agents of change. But the takeovers also provide an opportunity for those stepping aside to work with young women, to listen and to learn; to find out from them directly how they want to change their lives for the better.

Millions of girls denied their rights

Because lives need to change. In every walk of life, in every corner of the world, girls face discrimination and injustice. Millions are denied their rights to a good education. They are unable to play an active and equal role in society. They are prevented from taking important decisions that affect their own lives, including decisions about sexual and reproductive health. And they are often at risk of violence, simply for being a girl.

Things can change. Last year the UN agreed an ambitious set of Global Goals that include the promise of achieving gender equality by 2030. While the challenges in achieving those goals are vast, they are not insurmountable, if we act and act now. That will require a clear-sighted agenda for change, based on six key elements.

Joint action for girls

First, we need to get the legal framework right. Currently, there are few direct mentions of girls in key international human rights instruments and, until that changes, girls will remain invisible. But we also need to build a movement to bolster those rights, and to drive change more widely.

A strong, grass-roots movement for girls’ rights has emerged in recent years. We need now to strengthen and sustain that movement, building solidarity with the girls and young women already at the front lines demanding their rights. Our global ‘takeover’ is just one way in which we plan to grow that movement.

Data to drive global movement

Third, while the UN’s Global Goals represent an impressive statement of intent, they are just words unless governments act on the commitments they have made. We need to be ready to help countries deliver, but also to challenge them when they do not.

If we are going to hold governments to account, we need better data and we need to use it more effectively: girls are ‘invisible’ to policy-makers because they are not being counted. But better data are also vital to making the right kind of decisions and investments that can transform girls’ lives.

Trans-formative change also requires new ways of working. We need to involve everyone, and the private sector has just as much of a role to play here as NGOs. Only by finding new ways of collaborating will we be able to find new solutions to complex problems.

Finally, we need to get the resourcing right. Just meeting the worldwide need for pregnancy-related care will require $28 billion annually, a 100% increase from current funding. We’ll need to be smarter about using all of the resources that are available, including working with the government.

Investing in girls now will pay dividends in the future

Why is it that we still need to talk about women’s economic empowerment in 2017? Once you peel back the layers of data and statistics, you get to the bottom of the issue. It’s raw, and most people don’t want to hear it, but it’s at the root of all: girls are less valued than boys.

A lifetime living in the shadow

It’s possible to accurately tell the gender of a foetus from 18 weeks. From this point onwards, not having even left the womb, girls are under greater threat than boys. Gender-biased sex selection is not a new phenomenon, and it’s estimated that 117 million women* across Asia are “missing” because of it. If a girl survives this first hurdle, as she grows and reaches school age, she faces her next major barrier –getting an education. One in 5 adolescent girls across the globe continue to be denied their right to education. The reasons for this aremany, but think on these two statistics:
  • More than two-thirds of all child domestic workers are girls.
  • Worldwide, more than 700 million women alive today were married before their 18th birthday. More than 1 in 3 – about 250 million – were married before their 15th birthday.
Depending on how her education has fared, and if she’s avoided marriage at 13, and escaped domestic servitude, she will enter the workforce, and face the barriers working women face daily. And don’t forget that to find work is a major achievement: girls and young women make up the majority of the world’s 628 million young people who are not in education, training or employment.

Girls and women bear the brunt of unpaid work

Our girl will probably be expected to do some work for free. The unpaid work around the globe that keeps our economies ticking along lands disproportionately on the shoulders of girls and women. On average, women spend 3 times as many hours as men doing unpaid care and domestic work. But even small changes here can make a difference: a Gates Foundation study recently found that school enrolment rates for girls increased by 12% in one country when the time walking to collect water was reduced by an hour.

No investment and little protection

In 90% of countries there is at least one law that acts as a barrier to women’s economic equality. Economic equality is a contributing factor to gender equality. However, 190 million fewer women have an account at a financial institution than men. Why? Because if you’re a woman or young girl it’s much harder to get a formal credit history, to apply for proper identification, and in some countries you may need permission from your husband to open an account. How do you participate in public life and improve your understanding of finance when you can’t even open a bank account? According to the World Bank, in 90% of countries there is at least one law that acts as a barrier to women’s economic equality. Their research also highlighted that in 18 countries, a woman has to ask for her husband’s permission to work.

Added impact of gender-based violence

Forty-one countries completely lack laws against sexual harassment, while 46 have no laws addressing domestic violence. The prevalence of gender-based violence within the home, in public spaces, on the way to work and in the workplace also has a significant impact on girls’ and women’s economic performance. And yet still, in 2017, many countries still do not provide protection from violence and harassment for girls and women. Forty-one out of 173 countries examined by the World Bank completely lack laws against sexual harassment, while 46 countries have no laws addressing domestic violence. Is it any wonder with all these societal, educational, financial and legal barriers constricting a girl’s development, that 100 million young women around the globe can’t read a single sentence? This is no way to treat half of the world’s population.

Breaking the cycle

Girls don’t need empowering; they just need a fair start and a level playing field. That’s why at Plan International we are aiming over the next 5 years to make sure 100 million girls learn, lead, decide, and thrive.

I became a mother at 16

“As a teenager, I was not stubborn nor was I bubbly and loud. I was reserved and introverted, almost always engrossed in my books reading and revising. I was also an excellent performer in class, something that turned me into some sort of envy of everyone in our neighbourhood. You could barely tell I had a boyfriend.

Young love spelt trouble
I met my boyfriend, who is now my husband around the same time. We fell in love, and like all such stories, shortly after I realised I was pregnant. That is when it all turned south. Breaking the news to my parents is by far the most painful experience I have ever had to go through. My parents were greatly disappointed. My mother was literally in tears when the truth sank in. To make matters worse, my boyfriend was not even Muslim.

Fortunately for me, and contrary to what I expected, my family was very supportive right away. Of course, many of my relatives and our neighbours were not amused. They ridiculed me almost the entire time for casting shame upon the family. Thanks to the support I had, I carried on with my pregnancy.

On December 13, 1996 I gave birth to Sharon Kanyange, my first daughter. Carrying her in my hands for the first time made me realise that I was a child no more. I had to fend for her just like my parents had done for me. I knew it was not going to be easy, but I just had to find a way.

Motherhood and tough decisions
I had to make another tough decision. I chose not to go back to school. I was in Senior Four then which meant that I had to repeat the class. My parents’ dream was for me to become a doctor, and they were willing to see me through school even when I was a mother. But I thought it would affect my child; I would either get bad grades or a poorly raised child. I never wanted my daughter to go through what I was already going through.

I started my journey of motherhood almost immediately. I will be honest, the overwhelming support I had made it all easy. My mother, mother-in-law and a few of our close relatives were always in and out helping me. I would be lying if I told you I know how to perfectly use the famous herbal bath known as kyogero. That is how supportive they were. They did it all.
Shortly after, my boyfriend and I moved in together to start our little family. He promised to take care of us, and I must say he has since kept his word. He helped me start a small business, and concentrated on his job as an engineer. When I was 19, I gave birth to my second daughter Maria Namulwana.

Together, we have managed to raise our two daughters into responsible young ladies. Raising a girl is no small feat especially in this generation. Sharon is making 22 this year and is about to graduate with a degree in Veterinary medicine from Makerere University while her sister Maria is in Senior Five.

As a child, Sharon was so stubborn. We were always fighting. There is a time I asked her to go to the bedroom to pick something for me. I think she was around seven. Minutes later, she had not returned. I went to the bedroom to check on her only to find out that, instead of doing what I had asked her to do, she had poured milk all over the carpet.

I slapped her so badly, it terrified me later. I thought something bad would happen to her. Because I am short tempered, I was going to beat her more often as she was showing no signs of change. That is when I decided to send her to boarding school. I thought that her father and I were showering her with love,.Things had to change. Boarding school helped a great deal as she returned a changed girl. After a few school terms, she and I were on good terms. In fact, I have not had any trouble with her ever since. The thought of her going astray always scared me.

Joy of motherhood
My children are my pride. I am 38 and Sharon is 21, but people cannot believe that we are mother and daughter and not sisters. Her friends are always in awe. It makes me smile, seeing them in shock asking her how old her mother is. That is something not many parents experience. I just enjoy it.

Seeing my girls and the infinite possibilities they have to become whatever they wish to be outweighs all my regrets. At least I have not let the 16-year-old me down. Besides teaching her to make responsible decisions, I have tried to instill in her the spirit of being tough and never giving up. I have been a bit tough on her and she knows it, but it has been worth it. I do not regret it at all.”

Sharon’s story
“My mother has taught me many things, but the spirit of never giving up which she has instilled in me stands out. She has gone through a lot raising us and always going the extra mile so that we have everything we desire. I have been to good schools, and never have I had troubles of school fees.

Growing up, our home was filled with so much joy and happiness. However, she was always a tough disciplinarian. I thought that she disapproved of the fact that my father loved me so much. I was sent to boarding school, a decision I later found out was made because I was quite stubborn. When I became old enough, I understood why she and my father were doing all this. I also found out that her dream was to be a doctor. I decided to concentrate on my books so that I become the doctor she wanted to be.

I attended a number of primary schools; Kampala Quality Primary School, Vincent Alex Boarding Primary School, Mukono then Namugongo Girls School where I was until Primary Seven. I then joined St. Maria Goretti Katende for my O-Level and Rubaga Girls School for A-Level. I am now in my third year doing Veterinary Medicine at Makerere University. My dream is to graduate and make her proud.

Source Daily Monitor

16 steps to end School-Related Gender-Based Violence

An estimated 246 million girls and boys are harassed and abused in and around school every year.

School-related gender-based violence (SRGBV) can take the form of psychological, physical and sexual violence against boys and girls in, around and on the way to and from school.

SRGBV is a grave violation of human rights and impedes a child’s right to education; it affects their psychological, physical and social well-being as well as their ability to learn.

Both boys and girls are vulnerable to different forms of violence in and around schools.

SRGBV stems from deeply rooted gender norms, stereotypes, systemic inequalities and unequal power dynamics based on gender. Situations of protracted conflict, displacement and poverty exacerbate children’s vulnerability to SRGBV.

SRGBV includes explicit threats or acts of physical violence, bullying, verbal or sexual harassment, non-consensual touching, sexual coercion and assault, and rape.

Other implicit acts of SRGBV stem from everyday school practices that reinforce stereotyping and gender inequality, and encourage violent or unsafe environments. In particular, these acts can surface against those who do not conform to mainstream conceptions of masculinity or femininity. Corporal punishment and discipline are also often used in schools in gendered and discriminatory ways. Around the world, male and female educators and students can be victims and perpetrators of violence, although the extent and form can differ and vary across countries and within regions.

Evidence suggests that SRGBV is detrimental to learning and has serious physical and mental health effects. It negatively impacts children’s ability to participate in school activities, can cause lower achievement and performance, and lead to students dropping out of school.

While schools mirror gender inequalities and discrimination that exists in the home and within communities and societies at large, schools can also play a transformative role in shifting harmful gender norms and discriminatory practices. Schools need to become safe and secure environments where children learn to develop mutual respect and an understanding of gender equality in order to raise their voices against discrimination and gender-based violence. When a child is able to access safe, quality education, he or she unlocks his or her own potential and is better able to contribute to the wellbeing of their community.

When schools are free from gender-based violence, there are positive ripple effects beyond the classroom, including a transformation of traditional gender narratives and changes in the way girls and boys see and engage with the world around them.

We call on UN Agencies and Member States to:

  1. Recognize that SRGBV is an important barrier to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, in particular, Goals 3, 4, 5 and 16

We call on Governments to:

  1. Adopt comprehensive, gender-responsive and multi-sectoral action plans to eliminate SRGBV, including enactment of laws that explicitly protect children from all forms of violence and the provision of specific budget allocations for the implementation and dissemination of plans
  2. Establish safe and effective child-friendly reporting mechanisms and multi-sectoral response services for SRGBV that are clear, proportionate and consistent with the Convention on the Rights of a Child (CRC)

We call on Donors to:

  1. Prioritize and expand financing to support programs addressing SRGV, particularly among under-served, marginalized populations as well as prevention programs that address non-violent conflict resolution, shifting harmful gender norms, power inequalities and dynamics.
  2. Provide funding for formative and action research, program and policy evaluations to build the evidence base and good practice on SRGBV in the global south; particularly its impact on psychological and physical well-being and learning achievement, effective interventions, prevalence, reporting and inclusion in education sector planning

We call on Ministries of Education, school administrators and education unions to:

  1. Adopt a code of professional ethics that explicitly addresses SRGBV and is to be observed by all members; enforce school-based reporting and response protocols for educators, support personnel and managers, including the appointment of ‘focus’ educators as a first point of contact for children who experience violence.
  2. Ensure that education content, including curricula, textbooks, pedagogy and classroom practices are gender-sensitive and promote peace and gender equitable norms and attitudes, including through comprehensive sexuality education.
  3. Strengthen pre- and in-service teacher education programmes to make them gender-sensitive and improve and boost the capacity of educators to promote gender equitable norms in their educational practice
  4. Partner with civil society actors to advocate for the protection of students and staff alike within educational settings, especially in the context of war and armed conflict.

We call on Researchers to:

  1. Conduct wide-ranging research to contribute to a strong evidence base and address the gaps in knowledge on the drivers, risks and cultural contexts of SRGBV, including children marginalised by poverty, ethnicity, language, caste, disability, religion, refugee status, gender, sexual orientation or gender identity

We call on NGOs, civil society and the international development community to:

  1. Drive a global movement, together with men and boys, communities and stakeholders to eliminate SRGBV and promote access to schools as violence-free, safe spaces for learning, for all educators and students
  2. Expand programming to address SRGBV by educating and empowering communities and stakeholders at all levels, establishing multi-sectoral coordination, fostering community participation and the voices of boys and girls; and integrate SRGBV into other initiatives on HIV/AIDS, sexual and reproductive health, violence prevention in schools, humanitarian response and peace building, children’s rights, gender equality and women’s and girls’ empowerment
  3. Develop and disseminate evidence-based program guidance, tools and monitoring and evaluation mechanisms which demonstrate how to address SRGBV effectively
  4. Advocate with governments, donors and education authorities for the fulfilment and protection of children’s rights to access formal and non-formal learning environments that are safe and free from violence; and recognize that SRGBV often increases in conflict-affected countries and during emergencies.

We call on Communities to:

  1. Unite to end harmful social and cultural beliefs that give rise to violence against girls and boys in schools; end harmful practices; and strengthen reporting and response mechanisms within communities and educational institutions

We call on Girls and Boys to:

  1. Stand up and recognized as change-makers. Raise your voices to act against SRGBV and demand safe and secure school environments for all girls and boys around the world

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