By Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa/ Umoja Standard.
Entebbe, Uganda: On Wednesday 14th December, a section of Girls and Young Women (GYW) Entrepreneurs and Advocates from Global Learning for Sustainability (GLS) with support from She Leads Uganda Programme, and Connecting Girls project supported by women Win have been taken through relevant skills on how they can manage, save and invest finances as well as reclaim their sexual Reproductive Health Rights as a strategy to increase their political and economic participation.
This development was during the Girl Preneurs and Advocates Retreat at Entebbe Botanical Beach under the supervision of Global Learning for Sustainability.
Available evidence shows how girls aspirations are always cut short by Gender Based Violence resulting into child marriages, unwanted pregnancies, HIV/AIDS among other health mishaps.
Groups sharing on topical issues during the retreat. Photo by Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa.
The retreat served as an opportunity for Girls to share their lived experiences and how GLS interventions through other networks can strengthen leadership capacities and resilience of Girls and young women it serves.
Speaking to Girl Entrepreneurs and Advocates from GLS during the one-day retreat convened at Entebbe Botanical Beach, Rogers Obonyo – Head of Direct Sales at Finance Trust Bank Entebbe Branch Department of Business Development stressed that is always vital for Girls and young women to have something whether small or big from which they earn as this will facilitate their basic needs that anyone may fail to avail to them.
Rogers said that in so doing, they should also exhibit a saving culture of the little money they earn from their businesses and set a purpose for it as this will help them achieve their intended goals in future.
Rogers Obonyo – Head of Direct Sales at Finance Trust Bank Entebbe Branch Department of Business Development speaking. Photo by Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa.
“The only way girls and young women can manauver from domestic violence is when they are well empowered with relevant skills as well financial information/resources so that they are able to access basic needs of life”. Rogers added.
Rogers stated that being a bank solely managed by Women, Finance Trust Bank puts women first when it comes to financial related issues and in this, the bank offers a ‘No Fee Individual Savings Account’ where anyone can freely access with just UGX. 2000 annually as service fee.
“So, it is a very good idea to organize such talks to young girls like you who are already empowered so that we can help them to do because they have vision s, missions and have a lot of things they need to do”. Said Rogers.
At the retreat was Tracy Kisakye, a hands-on skills trainer based in Entebbe and Business Mentor at GLS who implored young girls to interest themselves in acquiring life skills saying it is one of ways through which they can empower themselves economically if they are to live a life they surely dream of.
Tracy Kisakye, a hands-on skills trainer based in Entebbe and Business Mentor at Global Learning for Sustainability showcases what she does. Photo by Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa.
“I started with only UGX. 5,000 as capital selling babies’ stockings and dolls, upgraded to weaved materials like caps, shoes, earrings, centre carpet and others and by now I get overwhelming orders”. Tracy one of Business mentors at GLS revealed.
“Young girls and women here, you don’t need to first see millions in your hands or accounts to start doing something constructive but with that you call small, you can start something constructive”. She added.
She assured them that they should use the pain they are experiencing as a result of gender and domestic violence to drive their mind to something big. ‘One day when I was challenged, i sat down and asked myself [who is Tracy? what can she do?], this only empowered me and started thinking positive whenever I was in such a situation and i implore you to follow the same’.
Harriet Mukajambo- a young woman activist who doubles as the Executive Director of Global Learning for Sustainability facilitated the group on sexual reproductive health rights (SHRH) issues where girls and young women shared heartbreaking experiences and sad tales that had defined their status until GLS brought her programmes in their communities.
Harriet Mukajambo- Young woman activist and Executive Director of Global Learning for Sustainability addresses at the retreat. Photo by Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa.
Most of the girls both residents of Entebbe and Kampala who could not complete their education revealed that they were subjected to domestic and gender-based violence and stigma back home by their real parents, relatives and society.
Among others these cited denial to school fees to continue in their studies, denial to shelter and girls’ basic needs, sexual harassment from relatives and stigma based on one’s HIV/AIDS status.
Harriet notes that, ‘the violence projected towards girls and young women in Uganda and around African continent explains the feminization of poverty compounding the economic experiences they live. The high rates of unwanted pregnancies, (teenage pregnancies, child /early marriages), HIV/AIDS, school dropouts are manifestations of continued denial and in-access of Girls and Young Women to information, services and resources regarding their Sexual Reproductive Health’.
“We therefore as an organization appeal to Government agencies, donors and other well-wishers including business communities to integrate sexual reproductive health issues in every aspect of Girls and young women empowerment. This will not only uplift their social statuses but enable them to meaningfully participate in decisions that affect them at all levels.” Harriet adds.
Facilitators pose for a group photo with girls and young women after the retreat. Photo by Julius Mugaga Tukacungurwa.
She said that the girls and young women retreat was meant for Girl advocates to share their achievements, challenges, learn and relearn as they heal from situations that impact them socially and psychologically in their every day lives. ‘Sharing and opening up is something we encourage as young women activists even among ourselves to createsafe spaces for personal development and transformation’. ‘Advoacy is definitely for the stronghearted and we are proud of girls and young women under our programmes who are showing resilience and tenacity to challenge norms’.
“We will continue to share stories of girls and young women and how their experiences at family and community levels places them in vulnerable situations. Through advancing social and economic rights of girls and young women, we hope to partner with like- minded individuals and institutions for sustainable impacts on gender equality”. She summarized.
Ugandan government incur approximately Ugx. 77.5bn in managing impacts of violence against women against women & Girls.
According to Annual Police Report of 2022, 120 girls were defiled by parents up (42.9% increase) from 84 in 2019.
17,664 domestic violence cases in 2020 to 29% from 13,693 in 2019.
18,872 victims of domestic violence were recorded in 2020. Of these, 3,408 male adults, 13,145 female adults, 1,133 male juveniles and 1,186 female juveniles. This strained government budget in trying to normalize the vice which is still escalating.