By Olive Nakatudde-URN
Kampala. The European Union (EU) Delegation to Uganda has called for the strengthening of women’s voices in the COVID-19 decision making and management processes.
The Danish Ambassador Nicolaj Hejberg Petersen observed that Women across the world are at the forefront of the battle against COVID-19 as health sector workers, scientists and caregivers, yet they are inadequately integrated into national and global COVID-19 spaces.
He said that women are facing increased domestic violence, unemployment, poverty and early pregnancies, resulting from the unprecedented closure of schools, and added that the EU is committed to working with the government and communities in addressing existing gender gaps.
Nicolaj made the statement on behalf of the EU member states during the International Women’s Day celebrations at State House, Entebbe. The day is commemorated under the theme; Building on Women’s Strength for a Better Future in the COVID-19 World.
“The theme reminds us to celebrate the efforts of women and girls around the world in overcoming the tremendous effects of Covid-19 pandemic. It also highlights the gaps and challenges that remain. As we celebrate, we are all challenged to continue and work harder to build on the strength of women in making the world better for women and everyone,” said the Ambassador.
Meanwhile, the Ambassador recognized Uganda’s strides towards addressing gender inequality citing the planned effort to increase the number of women in leadership positions in the political field and the public sector. He also noted different economic empowerment programs targeting women as well as the promotion of girl child education which Ambassador Nicolaj described as notable achievements that should be emulated.
He however said that to further these achievements, the EU and its member States recommend the expeditious passing of the Sexual Offences Bill and Succession Amendment Bill to add to the conducive legislative framework to protect the rights of women and girls. The Sexual Offences Bill, 2019 is currently being considered by the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee but the Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Ephraim Kamuntu recently asked MPs to halt its consideration to allow the government to carry out consultations.
The Bill was re-tabled last year in November by Monicah Amoding, the Kumi Woman MP, nine months after a stalemate that forced the Bill to be re-written. It seeks to consolidate laws relating to sexual offences and provide procedural and evidential requirements during the trial of sexual offences. It also proposes several measures to check among others, sexual harassment in schools by guardians or teachers.
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