Govt ask cultural leaders to fight GBV, teenage pregnancies

Minister for Gender, Labour and Social Development, Betty Amongi. PHOTO/FILE

What you need to know:

  • Meanwhile, Kwar Adhola Moses Stephen Owor was elected COTLA Uganda chairperson to serve for the next four years.

Gender minister Betty Amongi has challenged leaders of various cultural institutions to spearhead the fight against rampant teenage pregnancies and violence against women across their kingdoms and chiefdoms.

While officiating as a chief guest at launch of the five-year strategic plan to fight violence against women and girls by the Council of Traditional Leaders in Africa (COTLA) in Kampala on Wednesday, Amongi emphasized that some cultural norms continue to undermine government efforts to elevate women.

“I find culture as the major impediment to women's empowerment. For the next five years, we want to see the operationalization of this strategic plan through tackling violence against women and girls,” she added.

Statistics from the United Nations Population Fund (UNPA) indicate that at least 32, 000 teenagers got pregnant every month in Uganda between 2020 and 2021- during the Covid-19 pandemic when schools were closed.

Additionally, the 2020 survey on violence against women and girls by Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) established that 95 per cent of Ugandan women and girls experienced physical or sexual violence or both.

Such statistics have since forced cultural leaders, through their umbrella body known as COTLA, to launch the strategic plan which aims to advocate for laws and policies to eliminate forced marriages, female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and other harmful practices.

“All leaders under COTLA shall also prevent and respond to negative social norms and practices that are fuelling the abuse of women and girls,” their plan reads in part.

Speaking on behalf of Ugandan kings, Acholi Paramount Chief Rwot David Achana II accused development partners, including government, of sidelining cultural institutions in the implementation of the efforts to fight against Gender Based Violence (GBV).

“We have structures that spread to the lowest family units and our centuries old principles and values that promote humaneness,” Rwot Achana II noted before he called for “harnessing positive cultural norms to end all forms of violence against women and girls.”

Rwot Achana II further pledged COTLA’s commitment to work with stakeholders to ensire equity for all.

Meanwhile, during the same gathering, Kwar Adhola Moses Stephen Owor was elected COTLA Uganda chairperson to serve for the next four years.

Themed ‘Harnessing cultural resources and partnerships to end violence women and girls,’ Wednesday’s strategic plan launch attracted cultural leaders from the 17 gazetted cultural institutions in Uganda.