GIRLCHILD: “Fast Track East African Community Sexual and Reproductive Health Bill’- Women Probono Initiative

Women Probono Initiative

Counsel Beatrice Kayaga (standing) with other Women Probono staff during the presser held at their Kampala offices on Tuesday October 11 2022 PHOTO/PATRICK JARAMOGI

By Our Reporter [SHIFTMEDIA NEWS] Our Time is Now: Our Rights, Our Future.” This is the theme for this year’s International Day of the Girl Child which is commemorated globally every October 11 annually.

The Womens ProboNO Initiative (WPI), has thus called for the fast tracking of the East African Community Sexual and Reproductive Health Bill (The EAC SRHR) 2021.

What is Womens Probono Initiative?

The Women’s Probono Initiative (WPI) is an indigenous, non-profit, legal and advocacy organization which is promoting access to justice for women and girls in Uganda.
Founded to contribute towards ending violence and discrimination against women and girls. WPI utilizes legal tools for the promotion and protection of women’s rights in Uganda.

Addressing Sexuality issues in Uganda

According to latest United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) statistics, at least 644,955 teenage pregnancies were recorded during the COVID-19 lockdown in Uganda.

Figures from the agency show that since March 2020 when COVID-19 hit the world, an estimated 354,736 teenage pregnancies were reported following the closure of all schools in the country for at least eight months. An additional 290,219 pregnancies were reported between January and September 2021.

The number of recorded pregnancies is five times higher than the number of cumulative COVID-19 positive cases that have been reported since 2020.

Some of the districts that recorded the highest number of teenage pregnancies were Wakiso with 10,439 followed by Kampala with 8,460 cases. This was followed by Kasese with 7,317 cases, Kamuli with 6,535 reported cases, and Oyam with 6,449. Other districts that recorded many cases were;  Mayuge which had 6,205 and Mukono with 5,535 cases of teenage pregnancies.

Beatrice Kayaga the Programs Officer at WPI said the reason for the petition was to address the challenge teenage (pregnant) girls face while accessing education.

“On this day we recognize that girls face unique sets of challenges and barriers that impede the realization of their aspirations and full potential,” Kayaga told the press at their Kampala offices on Tuesday.

She noted that the Day of the African Girl Child gives them an opportunity to strategize on solutions and good practices for ending violence against women and girls.

“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 their challenge to education, she observed.

A study carried out by the Makerere University School of Public Health in 2020 showed that the number of teenage pregnancies in the country rose by 28 percent during the first COVID-19 lockdown in 2020.

Beatrice Kayaga said the Womens Probono Initiative has been central in advocating for the integration of teenage mothers and pregnant girls into schools. “Currently, 19 million women in East Africa cannot access modern contraception, while another 2.5 million are at risk of death due to unsafe abortions,” she said.
She said the Bill that has heard public hearing is facing stiff opposition from Prolife agitators and religious leaders who think the bill will promote sexual immorality in schools

Call to Action

The WPI Communications and Advocacy Officer Maria Bukirwa called upon government to fast track the implementation of the National Sexuality Education Framework, publish the out of school Sexuality Education Policy, as well as revisit the guidelines for the prevention and management of teenage pregnancy in school settings in Uganda.


Shift Media News

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