IWD: Promoting Gender Equality and Women’s Leadership will End GBV against Women

Ahead of International Women’s Day (IWD), 2022, women leaders are pushing for gender equality and the promotion of women’s leadership to prevent and mitigate violence against women and girls.

The call was made during a webinar on Monday, dubbed ‘Break the Bias’ organized by LVCT Health, Public Health Ambassadors Uganda (PHAU), and partners, to recognize the contribution of women and girls around the world on matters of health, education, politics and building a more sustainable future for all.

“Majority of smallholder farmers in Uganda and Kenya are women and yet when we look at land ownership, women are the minority,” Patricia Jeckonia, a health policy expert and HIV prevention advocate in Kenya noted.

Highlighting hindering women and girls from equal participation in nations’ development, she said that harmful social norms have increased gender-based violence (GBV). She added,

“Issues of power imbalance where men enjoy more of the power. There’s a move in society to celebrate men as the leaders. So, we need to be able to address these power imbalances.”

She further said that the negative perceptions and marginalization of women in decision-making have made it impossible for women to enjoy their rights.

“We have issues like reproductive coercion, where a woman cannot even decide the number of children she would want to have or decide on contraception.”

Rahab Kiranga, a Representative of Persons with Disabilities (PDWs) said that being among the Special Interest Groups (SIGs), women with disabilities have had a lot of discrimination and challenges at workplaces.

“When we are talking about empowering women in employment, it becomes a great challenge because our society has not fully embraced those of us with disabilities and there’s no trust.
When you go for these interviews, as much as you have the qualifications, you’re mainly judged with your disability, not inability,” she explained.

She added that by having women in leadership, the gender gap can be narrowed especially in most of the institutions with male dominance.

Dr. Innocent Nkonwa, District health Officer, Luwero district, and obstetrician-gynecologist emphasized the importance of having more women take up leadership positions. He said,

“When we put women in leadership, and as advocates and they push for their agenda, it will be one way of acknowledging their contribution in our countries.”

He added that physiologically, the experiences women undergo such as childbirth, antenatal, family planning, put them in a more vulnerable position compared to the men.

“The policies which guide these things are made by someone who does in a higher office somewhere. It would be prudent for our countries to appreciate that women should take up some of these positions because they have the experience and can push for their colleagues who are in these positions of vulnerability,” he said.

Sharing her experience as a young leader, Jerop Limo, Executive Director Ambassadors for Youth and Adolescent’s Reproductive Health (AYARHEP), an NGO that works for young people in Kenya said,
“It’s not easy, but at the same time, it’s an opportunity to make the change I want to see.”

She called for meaningful involvement of young people, where they’re allowed to design, implement and evaluate their programs, and given opportunities to make risky decisions.

Adding, “Giving an opportunity for women to be at the front is an opportunity for us to change the society and the perspective that as young women, they can influence and lead a team behind them to achieve the desired change,” she said.

Commemorated on 8th March each year, International Women’s Day (IWD) is a selected worldwide day to celebrate milestones women and girls have made regarding social, economic, cultural, and political aspects. It also aims to rally support and action towards strengthening gender equality and women empowerment. This year’s theme is “Gender equality today for a sustainable tomorrow.”

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