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Working with Parliamentarians to achieve ICPD agenda, SDG goals

 “Let us all be champions for maternal, newborn and child health issues,” said Hon. Muwuma Milton Kalulu, a Member of Parliament and Population champion, in his concluding remarks after making a presentation sharing his experiences, best practices and lessons learned in advancing sexual and reproductive health and prevention of gender based violence.

The Parliamentarian made the statement during an orientation of members of the 11th  Parliament on Uganda’s population dynamics and harnessing the demographic dividend in Uganda. The exercise was organized by the National Population Council with support from UNFPA through funding from the Embassy of the Kingdom of Netherlands in Uganda.

Over the years, through the Uganda Parliamentary Forum on Food Security Population and Development (UPFFSPD) and the Directorate for Research, UNFPA has built strong partnership with the Parliament of Uganda as a way of advancing the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD) Programme of Action and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agenda.

In the 8th, 9th and 10th Parliament, UNFPA built capacity of a team of Parliamentary champions who have today become strong advocates on population and development issues, with 216 and 235 members subscribing to the forum in the 9th and 10th Parliament respectively.

Among them is population Champion Hon. Milton Muwuma who says UNFPA Uganda’s support and engagements has enabled Parliamentarians execute their legislative, oversight, representation and budget appropriation roles confidently.

 “Participating in the Forums is very important. It provides you with resourceful data when presenting on the floor of parliament, gives you a basis to move a motion/Bill on population issues, and narrows the gap between MP and electorate as issues affecting them are being raised in the House” 

 

Budgetary appropriations

Hon. Muwuma says UPFFSPD champions have been instrumental in tracking of the reproductive health budget and ensuring evidence based advocacy for increased budgetary allocation for reproductive health.

 

Policy and Legislative responsibilities

The forum has also been instrumental in strengthening laws and policies on sexual and reproductive health. “Some of the legislations passed in the 8th and 9th Parliament were as a result of the support from the forum,” Hon. Muwuma says. Among them are the National Population Council Act 2014

which led to the establishment of the National Population Council, the Female Genital Mutilation Act (2010) and The HIV and AIDS Prevention and Control Bill 2010 (passed in 2014).

In 2021, Hon. Jovah Kamateka, Woman Representative Mitooma district moved a motion for a resolution urging government to develop and enforce policies and strategies to protect girls from the escalating cases of teenage pregnancy and child marriage during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Oversight, Monitoring and Accountability

Hon. Anthony Akol, Acting Chairperson of the Forum says Parliamentary outreaches have been conducted on teenage pregnancy, FGM, promoting safe motherhood, family planning and gender-based violence covering over 18 districts.

 

Representation

The Parliamentarians have also represented Uganda in various forums and south to south initiatives to position Family planning agenda including the Inter-Parliamentary Conference on ICPD beyond 2014. Working with partners in Population and Development – Africa Regional Office, UPFFSPD and UNFPA, the forum organizes annual conferences for the Network of African Parliamentary Committees of Health (NEAPACOH) a platform to follow up on commitments by parliamentarians to improve the health status of women including follow up on the Family Planning 2020 commitments.

Under the south-to-south cooperation, the UPFFSPD hosted the Parliamentary team from Ethiopia and the Asian Parliamentary Forum on Population and Development in August 2021 to share experiences, lessons and best practices in advancing the ICPD agenda. Following the Parliamentarians’ conference in August 2021, a declaration was made to advocate for increased budgets to meet the ICPD25 commitments, including sexual and reproductive health services for all, specifically contributing to the three zeros – zero maternal deaths, zero unmet need for family planning, and zero tolerance to gender-based violence and other harmful practices.

 

By Evelyn Kiapi