You are here

KAMPALA: UNFPA Representative Ms. Suzanne Mandong has urged Parliamentarians to become advocates for advancing the sexual and reproductive health and rights, gender equality and women empowerment in their constituencies and ensure that no one is left behind.

While making closing remarks during an orientation meeting for Members of the 11th Parliament from the central and south western regions in Kampala on September 27, Ms. Mandong said that amid the COVID-19 pandemic, maternal deaths still occur, unmet need for family planning is still unacceptable and many women and girls continue to face gender based violence including female genital mutilation and child marriage.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the situation with many young girls becoming susceptible to unwanted pregnancy, FGM and child marriage, and threatening gains in ensuring access to sexual reproductive health and rights for all,” Ms. Mandong said.

“Let girls be girls. It is a human right for every girl to stay in school. Girls do not belong in maternity wards; they belong in school,” she added.

The Representative appealed to the Parliamentarians to continue advocating for investments in adolescents and youth who make 78 percent of Uganda’s population as a way to fulfill their potentials.

Earlier, Minister of State, Office of the Prime Minister Hon. Diana Mutasingwa said that teenage pregnancy is indeed on the rise in Uganda and accelerated action is needed by all to curb it. She said in her district of Buikwe, where she is also Woman Member of Parliament, over 2,000 cases of teenage pregnancies have been reported since the beginning of the year.

“For the sake of our children and for the betterment of their education and future, this is the time to openly talk about the high fertility levels in our country. We need to have the number of children that we can afford to take care of,” she said.

Commissioner Gender and Women Affairs, Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development Ms Angella Nakafeero
makes a presentation on promoting gender equity and prevention of gender based violence, teenage pregnancy, child marriage
and other harmful practices. PHOTO: UNFPA/Evelyn Matsamura Kiapi.

Ms Angella Nakafeero, Commissioner for Gender and Women Affairs at the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development said that female genital mutilation and child marriage are forms of discrimination against women and girls and should be eliminated.

“Women and girls encounter many challenges and barriers that impact on their rights. To address this, we need to mainstream gender across the board. We cannot achieve development goals when women and girls are still lagging behind,” she said.

“The dividend of ending teenage pregnancy and child marriage is huge. If we can invest in the health, education and skilling of our girls, this is the road to development,” Ms Nakafeero said. “The support of Parliamentarians is critical to ensure women and girls live a life free of discrimination. We need all male parliamentarians to transform into gender equality champions.”

Organized with support of UNFPA, funded by the Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands in Uganda, and implemented by the National Population Council and Uganda Parliamentary Forum on Food Security Population and Development, this was the third orientation meeting for parliamentarians of the 11th Parliament of Uganda.

- Written by Evelyn Matsamura Kiapi