Archive for March, 2014

Hon. Miria MatembeEvery year around the world, International Women’s Day (IWD) is celebrated on March 8 aiming to raise awareness of the challenges, struggles and continuing inequality faced by women worldwide. Thousands of events are organised at international, national and grassroots levels to celebrate women’s history, courage and strength by highlighting key events, milestones and achievements. Actually the month of March is commonly referred to as the  Women’s Month though very few people know about this fact. This is also the time in a year when the  UN under the Commission on the Status of Women holds  its annual convening   to  evaluate progress on gender equality, identify challenges, set global standards and formulate concrete policies to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment

The 2014 international women’s day celebrations come at the  critical time when  countries are auditing the anticipated change delivered  by the Millennium Development Goals and setting the next development agenda under the Post2015 Development Framework.  It should be noted that the MDGs have been greatly criticized by women’s rights activists for ignoring critical issues that are central to promoting gender equality  and development.

As part of commemorating this year’s International Women’s day, I participated and coordinated a public dialogue on MDGs and Post 2015 Development Agenda: Room for gender equality organized by Isis-WICCE in partnership with the School of Women and Gender Studies, Makerere University.  It was attended by over 300  people who included university students, lecturers and gender activists. The dialogue was opened by Hon. Miria Matembe, a renowned vocal  gender activist  who regretted that the MDGs have instead slowed down the progress of gender equality and development “before MDGs,  women  were running fast & very vibrant’ but now  women have continued to be in power, serving power and without power” she said.  Hon Matembe also pointed out that MDGs  have  failed to address the critical issues of women such as sexual and reproductive health and violence against women

Likewise, Ms Margaret Kakande who made a presentation on the milestones of MDGs and gender equality expressed concern that little has been achieved for women and girls since 2000 in critical policy areas and actions. She singled out maternal health where many women continue to die while giving birth and regretted that   64% of mothers do not receive any postnatal check-up. She further noted that over 60% of maternal deaths in developing countries are estimated to occur 23 to 48 hours after delivery due to postpartum haemorrhage and hypertensive disorders. She cautioned that if the heath status of women and girls is not improved and maternal deaths checked, the MDGs would have achieved almost nothing for them.

She added that the women who are the care givers suffer poor reproductive health and with the reversal in the prevalence of the HIV/AIDs scourge in Uganda, the situation is of women is critical. Ms Kakande expressed concern that this state of affairs almost reverses any empowerment gains that women would have achieved.

In the sector of education, she noted that school dropout rates for girls especially at primary level have remained high denying them the opportunity to complete the full course of primary schooling which is the first foundation for their empowerment.

In moving forward to the Post 2015 Development Agenda, Isis-WICCE Communications Consultant Archie Luyimbazi warned that if in the last 14 years under the MDGs the plight of women has not been addressed, then the post 2015 stage should devise a plan that is transformational. He urged the women’s movement to seize the opportunity to reflect on what they need to do differently in order to bring about the much desired change for women.

He advised that to be successful in this new front,  Gender Equality and Women’s  Right Activists  should consider changing strategy from the current women’s right’s approach that has faced so much resistance over the years and enter into negotiation and bring on board new actors and energies especially the academia and the young people as well.

A cross section of participantsDuring the discussion participants emphasized that post 2015 development agenda should focus on social transformation of women with emphasis on factors that will give them more time to participate in the economic activities because when you achieve economic rights, other rights will follow. “We cannot achieve sustainable gender equality without economic empowerment of women” said a participant

Young people were also urged to be actively engaged in all development process because they  have a greater stake in shaping the future and time is now for  them  to rise and mobilize for social change, good governance and gender equality. They were advised to effectively utilize the power of social media as a tool

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