What you need to know:
- The project will focus on creating awareness against negative cultural practices that perpetuate violence, promoting access to justice and educating women about their rights.
The Austrian government and the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) have launch a Shs11b project aimed at increasing access to sexual reproductive health services and justice for victims of gender-based violence.
The two-year initiative dubbed “Delivering an integrated package of rights to achieve universal coverage, will be undertaken in Karamoja Sub-region and northern Uganda.
It will cover districts of Abim, Amudat, Moroto, Nakapirippirit, Kaabong, and Napak. The others are Omoro, Kitgum, and Otuke.
The agreement was signed by Dr Roswitha Kremser, the head of mission at the Austrian Embassy, and Dr Mary Otieno, the country director for UNFPA in Kampala yesterday.
Dr Otieno said the beneficiary districts were chosen on the basis of the high prevalence of violence against women and girls.
“Why Karamoja? It is the most underserved. Gender violence continues to rise. It is one of the regions that is marginalised and has high teenage pregnancies. We have to focus on this area to bring these indicators down. We are being told not to leave anyone behind and there is a need to focus on those left behind the farthest,” Dr Kremser said.
“We have to bring the perpetrators to book and that is why we focus on access to justice because ending the cycle of justice and impunity is by bringing the perpetrators of the crimes to book,” Dr Kremser added.
He explained that in a previous project where they invested in sexual and gender-based violence court sessions, the conviction rate increased from 20 percent to 70 percent.
Mr Rachel Ogallo, a gender and human rights specialist at UNFPA, said they will continue working with the law and order sector to improve access to justice.
Ms Ogallo said they have started engagements with the police to step up forensic evidences.
“Many violence cases collapse due to lack of evidence,’’ she said.
The projected will also bring on board cultural and religious leaders who are key in fighting negative societal norms.
In November, the Gender ministry said at least 223 women and girls died due to gender and sexual violence every year.
The project will focus on creating awareness against negative cultural practices that perpetuate violence, promoting access to justice and educating women about their rights.