Government, service providers and communities have been challenged to create a safe environment for children and women and ensure their rights are understood and protected.
This was contained in the December 1 Eureka Hotel Kampala Girls Rights Declaration to create an enabling environment and empower the girls to learn, lead, decide and thrive.
Organized by Plan International in partnership with Uganda Women Parliamentary Assocaition (UWOPA), Forum for African Women Educationists Uganda Chapter, under Girls Empowerment and Advocacy – CEDAW Project to contribute to the realization of girls’ rights, the declaration enlisted the media as critical allies in the fight against child marriages and defilement.
Pan African and Buyende Woman Member of Parliament, Veronica Kadogo, pointed out that girls are marginalised and regarded as second rate citizens in society which looks at them as commodities to be sold in hard times hence are not given enough resources to catch up with the boys, drop out of school and are forced into child marriages.
Kadogo rallied for support of girl access, retention and completion of school, improvement of sexual reproductive health services and reduction of gender based violence among adolescent girls.
“We need to work together to remove barriers inhibiting girls’ education and enjoyment of their rights, target attitudinal , mindset change through coalition building, advocacy, social accountability and awareness raising and more importantly have the media as our allies in this struggle,” Kadogo said.
She advocated for raising of defilement age to 21 to allow the girls mature, complete school and even control population
The girls voiced that they are regarded as commodities from which parents connive with the defilers, marry them off at early ages.
They called for second chance and support to girls who get pregnant and drop out of school so that they can support their children and make a future.
Plan International central and Eastern Uganda Program Area manager Patrick Emukule, called for empowerment and support of girls to enroll, go and complete education cycle, enjoy their full potentials and rights without any inhibitions.
"We support the excluded and marginalized out of School children realize their rights to access and complete quality, gender-sensitive basic education," he said.
Emukule advocated for punitive measures against perpetrators of child marriages and defilement and disclosed that Plans strategy is using school community approaches to transform gender relations through gender sensitive projects that aim at empowering women and girls, promoting their roles in decision making, increase girls’ access to education, enhancing learning and developing of young talent in schools.