Reducing Violence against Women and Girls, Strengthening women’s access to justice and transforming negative and harmful religious and cultural dogma, Empowering women economically towards realization of economic, social and cultural rights (ESCR).
Uganda has overcome civil conflict since 2005. It has been and continues to be a destination country for large refugee populations from surrounding conflict-affected states. Layers of challenges are to be faced by many women, this can result from isolations or absence of knowledge regarding their rights as women. Certain barriers are yet to be overcome, towards the equality of women and girls in the country, as early and forced marriages, as well as low childbearing age, continue to negatively affect the lives of women and girls.
Uganda’s government has been active in promoting women’s rights within its legislative frameworks; Uganda ratified the CEDAW in 1985 as well as the African Protocol on the Rights of Women in 2010. However, the translation into practical benefits for women across the country has been patchy, with often rural women and urban women in the informal sector facing the greatest challenges. Uganda’s Constitution provides protection to the rights of women in marriage, with establishing the minimum age for marriage at 18 years and guarantees equal rights to both parties at, during and upon dissolution of the marriage. Important milestones have been achieved through the creation of a Family Protection Unit within the law enforcement and the court ruling of the Supreme Court, declaring the refund of bride prices as unconstitutional, where SIHA alongside its member organization MIFUMI actively participated.
Despite a history of political upheaval and violent conflicts, Uganda has enjoyed relative peace and stability since 2006 due to the reinstatement of multi-party democracy, a strong constitution that protects women’s human rights, and an end to two decades of conflict in Northern Uganda. Though still below the 7.2% target set in the first National Development Plan, economic growth averaged 5.5% between 2010/11 and 2013/14. The number of people living in poverty fell from 56% in 1992 to 24.5% in 2011, and further fell to 19.7% in 2013.
However, economic growth has been uneven, as has its impact on poverty, as shown by the persistence of significant regional disparities, notwithstanding an overall improvement in the Gini coefficient measuring inequality from 0.426 in 2009/10 to 0.395 in 2012/13 (UBOS 2014 b). Overall poverty is lower but significant regional disparities persist. While Uganda has made impressive gains in reducing the overall level of poverty, these have been limited to central and western regions, and marked regional disparities persist.
Poverty rates remain high and relatively stagnant for the Eastern and Northern regions. This has been attributed in part to conflicts that engulfed those regions for much of the 1980s and 1990s. Nevertheless, poverty in East Central (Busoga) and the rest of the Eastern region remains entrenched, even though these areas have been largely peaceful over the last 30 years. Rural areas lag behind, especially in terms of employment and human development outcomes. Karamojong sub-region is the most economically disadvantaged area. 65% of its population lives below the poverty line. Ranking 110 out of 148 countries assessed, Uganda has a high gender inequality index (0.517) as measured by maternal mortality, adolescent fertility rates, and empowerment and economic activity.
Reducing Violence against Women and Girls
“Men’s Groups for Gender Equality Capacity Building Training Workshop”
SIHA has held several trainings aimed at deepening participants understanding of gender and ‘masculinities’ (power, relationships, roles, sexual networking, violence, sexual health, sexual vulnerabilities) and develop skills and techniques to engage men through positive messaging and interventions to combat sexual violence and promote gender-equitable conceptualizations and behaviors.
Strengthening women’s access to justice and transforming negative and harmful religious and cultural dogma
In beginning of 2015, SIHA organized a “Gender Justice and Islam Training” in collaboration with MUSAWAH, for female lawyers and journalists, who were trained on specific gender and justice related issues. Recognizing that the exclusion of Muslim women in Uganda is two-fold, both as a minority by society and as a woman marginalized and relegated to the sphere of domestic tasks. SIHA in partnership with its member the Muslim Center for Justice and Law organized reception “Ugandan Muslim women equally recognizing International Women’s Day”.
Empowering women economically towards realization of economic, social and cultural rights (ESCR)
SIHA’s “Mushroom Project” in Kitgum provided a financial grant to the Northern Ugandan Women and Children Initiatives (NUWECHI) to undergo business skills training to develop a successful mushroom project to improve livelihoods, targeting vulnerable women, including widows, survivors of sexual violence, and former abductees.
“Equipping women with business skills” -A group of 40 women from Beads Women Association, most of them from Northern Uganda and fled to the city as a result of civil war, benefited from a training that SIHA organized on business skills.
Supporting Ugandan girls on their educational path
Since 2013 SIHA has been supporting girls in Uganda to continue their educational path. The funds are made available from SIHA’s Membership Fees, for girls in vulnerable situations, who would otherwise be unable to afford school fees and accompanying costs. Currently, SIHA is supporting eight girls, mostly in primary and secondary schooling and is currently undertaking efforts to create scholarship- programming for the upcoming years.
Given that the Secretariat is located in Kampala Uganda, SIHA actively conducts regional capacity building trainings with its members that have attracted more than 160 participants. SIHA in partnership with MUSAWAH organized ‘Islam & Gender Equality and Justice” Horn of Africa Course (or I-nGEJ, pronounced ‘I engage’) for activists drawing from across the region –in collaboration with Musawah. This course enabled participants to acquire tools refining their knowledge on Islamic jurisprudence, methodological tools to interrogate and question the common discourse, as well as assumptions drawing from the intersection of culture and religion.
SIHA has mostly worked in West Nile Region, Kampala and Wakiso those projects and collaborations have been carried out in collaboration with Member Organizations such as:
- MIFUMI, RACI Koboko
- The Northern Uganda Women and Children’s Initiatives (NUWECHI)
- The National Association of Women Organizations in Uganda (NAWOU)
- The Muslim Center for Justice and Law