UKPC National Coordinator’s Message on this year’s Women’s Day
If there is anything that 2020 has taught everyone, if you need things to move if you need to witness transformational leadership, and if you need to give people hope, put women in position(s) of power.
COVID19 presented us with the pandemic that this generation world over has witnessed for the first time. We went into a panic, and all governments worldwide put in place radical measures to contain the pandemic’s spread.
Luckily, Uganda had women at the centre of this pandemic, a milestone we cannot take for granted. From the Ministry of Health to Civil Society Organisations and parastatals, these women have continued to inspire us to see what we can all achieve if we empower women and girls to take responsibility.
We have had challenges, of course. Girls being out of school for close to a year now has led to increased cases of GBV, teenage pregnancies, child marriages and consequently school dropouts. We risk having a generation where children are giving birth to children. In July 2020, the Daily Monitor reported that 2,300 school girls conceived, and 128 were married off during lockdown (before August 2020).
COVID19 measures, for example, lockdowns, had adverse effects on women. Sex workers, for instance, had no access to livelihoods. Access to maternal healthcare became almost impossible due to health centres turned into COVID19 response centres, and a ban on public transportation hindered many LBQT women from accessing SRHR services. The local dailies released reports of mothers giving birth on the roadside for failure to access vehicle to hospitals.
This presents a resounding need to remind everyone in a position of power how women and girls remain vulnerable to human rights abuses in our communities.
Women and girls deserve better. Period!
We cannot transform or achieve our visions as a country where the people behind running families and communities are not empowered to realise their full potential. We need to inspire young girls by showing them stories of women who choose to challenge the status quo every day.
Therefore, for the women that remain at the centre of resilience and managing crises, we salute and celebrate you every day. Continue to choose to challenge and inspire us to do more.
This International Women’s Day, let’s support and celebrate women taking the lead in our communities and lives.
Richard S. Lusimbo
Uganda Key Populations Consortium