Elizabeth Kemigisha, Manager of Advocacy and Policy at The Uganda Association of Women Lawyers-FIDA, speaking at a press conference, emphasized that the struggle is predominantly led by NGOs, which, due to financial constraints, face sustainability challenges.
Organizations at the forefront of combating Gender-Based
Violence have urged the government not to delegate the fight solely to donors and Non-government
originations- NGOs. This came to the fore on Monday during the launch of a campaign dubbed "16 Days of Black" spearheaded by ActionAid.
The campaign is part of the annual global activism movement against
Gender-Based Violence. Elizabeth Kemigisha,
Manager of Advocacy and Policy at The Uganda Association of Women Lawyers-FIDA, speaking at a press
conference, emphasized that the struggle is predominantly led by NGOs, which,
due to financial constraints, face sustainability challenges.
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In Kemigisha’s perspective, active government engagement and the
empowerment of communities are imperative to protect victims and proactively
prevent cases, thereby providing a sustainable solution to the pervasive issue
that is detrimentally affecting society.
Hawa Birabwa, an advocate at the Justice Centre Uganda, echoed similar concerns,
emphasizing that while NGOs and donors play a critical role in the fight
against gender-based violence, reliance on them indefinitely is not
sustainable, given their transient nature. According to her, there is a
pressing need for initiatives that empower communities.
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Birabwa suggested that these efforts should specifically target religious
and cultural groups to address practices that contribute to gender-based
violence in the country. She highlighted that certain practices within these
groups, such as the vows taken during weddings that bind couples "till
death do us part," can result in strained relationships where individuals
endure abuse but find it challenging to seek divorce. Additionally, some
community practices inadvertently support victims in continuing to live with their
Birabwa emphasized that without active government involvement in addressing
gender-based violence at the grassroots level within communities, the fight
against GBV risks becoming a mere annual event without tangible results.
She also underscored the importance of engaging men in advocacy efforts,
stating that empowering only women and girls while neglecting men and boys
fails to break the cycle of GBV.
In their joint statement, the organizations led by ActionAid
also pointed out that despite the alarming statistics of GBV in the country,
there is insufficient funding dedicated to addressing this issue, even within
the national budget. She expressed concern that there is a lack of robust
responses, including investments in the prevention of GBV.
"Despite these glaring statistics, an insignificant proportion of the national budget is directed towards robust
responses, including investment in the prevention of GBV. Donor funding for
women's rights work continues to shrink despite increased momentum and clear
evidence of need. Systems to track and enforce budget allocations for gender
equality remain weak and data on national budgets to address violence against
women and girls are hardly available,” the statement reads in part.
Meanwhile, while discussing the matter, Kemigisha highlighted
instances where government intervention has proven beneficial, citing the
adoption of special court sessions for Gender-Based Violence (GBV) cases. These
sessions have effectively reduced the backlog of cases.
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The initiative was initially a pilot program responding to the pressing need
to address Sexual and Gender-Based Violence offenses, enhance survivors' access
to justice, improve their experience within the justice system, and alleviate
case backlogs dating back to 2014.
The success of these sessions has led to their incorporation into the
judiciary, garnering positive feedback. Reports indicate increased reliability
and consistency among involved parties such as the police, health services,
justice system, social services, and the victims.
Kemigisha emphasized that the government could play a pivotal role
in dismantling structural barriers hindering victims from obtaining justice,
such as the practice of certain health practitioners selling Police Form 3.
Annually, the world unites in the fight against Gender-Based Violence (GBV),
launching a campaign that spans from the 25th of November, commemorating the
International Day for the Elimination of All Forms of Violence Against Women,
to the 10th of December, observed as International Human Rights Day.
The dedicated days serve as a central focus for coordinated global
initiatives aimed at increasing awareness, advocating for change, and standing
in solidarity against the complex challenges presented by gender-based
violence. Throughout these crucial 16 days, individuals, organizations, and
communities across the globe join forces to intensify their commitment to
eliminating violence and upholding the fundamental rights and dignity of every