“I help my sisters with domestic chores so that they don’t have a heavy workload at home. Most boys think housework is strictly for girls but that’s wrong,” Solomon Muhindo. Solomon is 16 years old and has grown up with 4 sisters. He came to our U-Decide Women’s Day Integrated Community Activation in Kasese district western Uganda to access sexual reproductive health rights information and services. Kasese is 369 Km away from the capital.
With the belief that every girl has the right to be who and what she decides, we celebrated this year’s International Women’s Day focusing on women and young girl’s rights to realise equal opportunities.
This year’s International Women’s Day (IWD) was themed, “I am Generation Equality: Realising Women’s Rights.” We are very passionate about women and young people’s rights and for this, we decided to include the cause in our U-Decide project activities in Kasese District. The project aims at increasing the use of contraceptives methods for family planning through Social behaviour change. Being the women’s month, the focus has been on women beating the odds to stand out and thrive in a chauvinistic society.
Women and girls in rural communities face challenges, including gender-based violence, lack of sustainable income-generating services and also lack of access to proper health care services. Reach A Hand Uganda has partnered with United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) through the Live Your Dream Campaign aimed at inspiring action towards a better life for young people and women and also fighting to end gender-based violence. For some people, giving up can be an option but we shared it with young mothers and girls who proved otherwise.
The fun-filled, information and service centred outreach/activations kicked off on Friday 6th March at Mpondwe Customs and the biggest outreach was held at Mpondwe Primary School grounds in Kasese District.
We talked to some beneficiaries about what gender equality means, this is what they had to say.
Mbambu Joviah a mother of 2, just like so many women in the Rwenzori subregion, wakes up every day to set up her charcoal stole in the Bwera market. The struggle she goes through she narrates is to ensure that her children do not sleep on empty stomachs. “As a single mum, I believe that women have the power to shape their families. We just have to wipe away self-pity.”
The story of Biira Marikia, a 27-year-old mother of 5 is not that much different. She emphasises that the greatest challenge women in the area face is the lack of sexual reproductive health and rights information and services. “In most cases, the men don’t want us to leave home so it becomes a problem accessing health services and information.”
For the young girls, going through challenges, we caught up with 18-year-old Muhindo Janet a mother of one girl. Muhindo narrates that, “Many young mothers are neglected by their partners especially after giving birth. As a result, they find it hard to survive since they are left with all the responsibility to take care of their children.”
It’s to us all that #GenerationEquality includes investing in women’s economic empowerment as a way to direct their paths towards gender equality, poverty eradication and inclusivity in economic growth. Men, therefore, ought to be at the forefront of championing women’s rights.