The Women’s Probono Initiative joins the rest of the world in commemorating the 10th Anniversary of the International Day of the Girl Child (IDGC) which is commemorated on the 11th of October every year. On this day we recognize that girls face unique sets of challenges and barriers that impede the realization of their aspirations and full potential. This day provides us with an opportunity to strategize on solutions and good practices for ending violence against women and girls.
The global theme for this year is “Our Time is Now: Our Rights, Our Future.”
The theme recognizes that girls, in all their diversity, once given skills and opportunities can be change makers driving progress in their communities. We acknowledge that more work still has to be done to achieve gender equality and to advance their empowerment due to the COVID-19 pandemic which exacerbated the challenges to their education, some of the highlighted challenges that squarely fall with this year’s theme are the issues of teenage pregnancy, child marriages, high school dropouts of girls due to stigma and taboos on menstruation among others.
The Women’s Probono Initiative has been central in advocating for the integration of teenage mothers and pregnant girls into schools, advocating for the passing of the East Africa Community Sexual and Reproductive Health Bill (The EAC SRHR bill) that addresses the SRHR needs of adolescents especially young girls. Notably, the bill also provides for adolescent girls who become pregnant before completing their education to be given the opportunity with appropriate facilities, during pregnancy and within a reasonable period after delivery, to continue with their education. Currently, 19 million women in East Africa cannot access modern contraception. A further 2.5 million are at risk of death due to unsafe abortions. The tragedies can be avoided if we have a regional law that advances access to accurate information and quality services and provides protection of the sexual and reproductive health of East African women and girls in all their diversities.
Against the above background we call upon the Ugandan government to;
- Fast track Implementation of National Sexuality Education Framework
- Publish the out of school Sexuality Education Policy
- Revisit the Guidelines for The Prevention and Management of Teenage Pregnancy in School Settings in Uganda.
- Recommit to East and South African Ministerial commitments to comprehensive Sexuality Education.
- Facilitate the elimination of harmful practices from the Community, including child marriage and gender-based violence and;
- That the East African Legislative Assembly fast tracks the East African Community Sexual and Reproductive Health Bill, 2021.