INVEST IN GIRLS: Violated By Those We Call Home

Nabbaale Tracy- Human Rights lawyer and Founding member of SCOLF CHILDREN FOUNDATION.


KALAKI, Uganda = SHIFT MEDIA NEWS= The essence of a home transcends cultural boundaries and societal norms. Home is not merely a physical space; it is a sanctuary that nurtures emotional well-being and unconditional love. Home is a person – a guardian angel who rescues us from the chaos this world offers. When the world is falling apart, the ideal place to run to is home. It is rather unfortunate that, as humans, it is in our nature to take things that come easily to us for granted; the ease with which my mother comes to my rescue and the confidence I have that she will never give up on me often lead to a lack of appreciation for the true value the people we call home hold.

Children Deserve Love

However, there exists a sobering reality for some children—those who do not experience the love and care they deserve from their parents. In a community outreach I attended with SCOLF Children Foundation in Kalaki District, we were approached by a girl named Brenda (not her real name), whose story we found astonishing. Brenda, a 16-year-old and a mother, narrated: “when I turned 15 years of age, my father forced me into marriage. I got pregnant and later gave birth to a baby boy. Because I wanted to continue with my education, I ran away from my husband and went to my mother to ask for help, but she chased me away, saying that her husband would beat her up. I went to seek refuge from my aunty, but after some days, her husband wanted to rape me so I decided to ran away, I slept in the bush for two days but later went to the police… I am currently at the mercy of the deputy head teacher and his family.

More worryingly, this misfortune is not unique to Brenda, SCOLF has encountered many children in worse-off situations.

Protected by the Constitution

The Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, the Children’s Act and other international legal instruments provide for the right to education for all, speak against discrimination on the basis of sex and strongly prohibits child marriages. However, gender and cultural biases have exposed girls to sexual and emotional abuse which manifest in the form of school dropouts, early marriages, teenage pregnancies among others. In some communities, it has become normal for a girl to be married off once they reach adolescence. Families continue to hold sterotypes values that girls are destined for child bearing and marriage and therefore not worth the investment in education.

Take Home As we Celebrate International Women’s Day

As SCOLF, and in the spirit of celebrating the 2024 International Women’s day themed: “Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress”, we appeal to each one of us – all of us Ugandans—to approach this dilemma with the “It takes a village to raise a child” mentality. We call upon all Ugandans, the Government and relevant stakeholders to Invest in girls in order to accelerate progress in our country. In 2022, the World Bank collection of development indicators were to the effect that Uganda’s female population amounted to approximately 23.85 million as compared to the 23. 4 million males; which means that investing in girls is investing in the majority of our population and ultimately accelerating the progress of our country.

To this end, we (citizens, Government and other relevant stakeholders) owe it to the future generation to act! Girls are part and parcel of the heartbeat of a nation’s future, embodying the promise of progress, innovation, and society continuity. Recognising their significance and investing in their well-being is not just a moral imperative but a strategic necessity.

SCOLF believes that Brenda and all girls are capable of more and are only hindered by societal constraints from reaching their full potential. They need our rescue- LET US INVEST IN GIRLS.

The author is a Human Rights lawyer and Founding member for SCOLF Childrens Foundation

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