ActionAid International Uganda organized a forum for women in West Nile on 1/06/2023 in Arua. The event brought together women representatives and key stakeholders to dialogue on important issues affecting women in the region. The meeting took stock of the successes and bottlenecks in Gender Based Violence prevention, protection, and response.
Angella Kalule, the Commissioner for Women and Gender at the Ministry of Gender, Labor, and Social Development, said that the meeting presented an opportunity for action.
"The forum is driven by a commitment to creating sustainable, culturally responsive solutions. It is grounded in a deep understanding of the needs and experiences of indigenous women in West Nile. And yes, we have an opportunity to act," explained Kalule.
The women at the event presented an issue paper that captured the key challenges affecting their lives that have prevented them from participating in decision-making, leading to a lack of visibility.
"The structural nature of gender inequality calls for taking stock & pointing out the drivers of inequality. This issue paper highlights them for collective, coordinated actions coupled with adequate resourcing and policy formulation/review," explained Harriet Asinduru, the chairperson of the West Nile regional women’s Forum.
Health, budgeting, security, and education were the areas covered in the issue paper.
Under education, the women highlighted the high number of defilement cases, teenage pregnancy, early marriages, poor performance, and low retention of the girl child in school.
In the health sector, they noted the low staffing in the doctor/midwife to pregnant mother ratio resulting in long queues in the hospitals and health centers. Consequently, this has led to low morale among rights holders. The poor infrastructure and ante-natal /labor suit facilities that are not inclusive for persons with special needs are a big challenge.
Regarding security, the women pointed out border insecurity, inter-tribal conflicts, and the influence of foreign customs and culture as challenges.
By the end of the event, the women had aired their concerns and dialogued with stakeholders on the way forward.