By Apollo Mubiru
UK Equalities Minister and Champion for Tackling Violence against Women and Girls Overseas, Lynne Featherstone visited a women’s protection centre for victims of domestic violence in Mubende District.
Featherstone said: “Denying women the power and means to control the number and timing of children has health implications and restricts women’s life opportunities. The UK government is investing money to empower Ugandan girls and women to govern their own lives, which will make communities and societies stronger.”
The centre, managed by ActionAid, is one of several protection centres funded by the UK Government through the Department for International Development (DFID) to offer legal aid, counseling, personal safety planning, accommodation and treatment of gender based violence survivors.
Speaking after the visit, Lynne Featherstone said: “Today I witnessed the great work ActionAid is doing to improve the lives of women and girls in Uganda. I met courageous women who have said ‘enough is enough’ and found shelter to rebuild their lives and seek justice. It is shocking that for millions of the world’s poorest people, their gender is the biggest barrier to a healthy and secure life. That is why the UK Government puts girls and women at the heart of all our development efforts and I am delighted to be supporting this initiative”.
The Head of Action Aid Uganda, Arthur Larok said gender based Violence in Uganda should be approached as a public health and human rights crisis which must be tackled by community members, health providers, law makers and law implementers.
The Coalition against GBV in Mubende has enhanced this collective responsibility through the contribution of its members to the function of the protection centre.
With support from the UK Government more women and girls will benefit from the expansion of the facilities across the country.
While in Mubende, the Minister also had the opportunity to see first -hand the work that the UK Government is supporting to improve women’s choices in family planning.
The family planning outreach programme at government health centres is jointly funded by the UK Department for International Development and USAID.
The programme holds camps regularly across the country to provide counselling and contraceptive commodities to poor, rural women, in partnership with the Ministry of Health.
Over the next four years, the UK Government is committed to empowering girls and women and this is expected to have strong multiplier effects on economic growth and achieving the millennium development goals.
UK support across the globe is helping to: tackle the unmet need in family planning which sees 215 million women unable to access contraception; ensure that as many girls as possible get into school; enable more women to have access to justice and security; and make certain that women have a voice in their communities.
In Uganda, DFID is working with the Government of Uganda and other partners to help avert unintended pregnancies, assist women gain access to modern contraception, ensure births are attended by skilled attendants and that more girls complete their secondary education.
Statistics show that up to 68% of Uganda women have experienced violence of some kind.
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UK minister pledges support to Ugandan domestic violence survivors