By JOHN AGABA
Women activists have decried the ‘biased cultural attitude’ towards the girl child especially in rural settings, saying deters girls from achieving their true potentials.
“We have made some strides towards educating and empowering girls and women but we are not there yet, not when in some parts of the country we have many girls who continue to be marginalized at the expense of the boys,” Professor Elizabeth Opio of Gulu University said.
The biology professor made the remarks while delivering her key note address at the 13th Dr. Sarah Ntiro Lecture and Award event at Kings College Budo Thursday.
The annual event was organized by the Forum for African Women Educationists Uganda Chapter (FAWEU).
Opio stressed that the girl child situation especially in rural areas was still below, with ‘many parents preferring to stop girls from continuing with school for the sake of the boys.’
“In case the school fees are not enough, it is the girl who is asked to stop going to school and instead to go to the garden so she can help raise money to take her brother to school, even if she is clever and has more potential than the boy,” said Opio.
She criticized the attitudes of ‘girls can do this they can’t do that’, saying it too needed to change.
“Why should it be the girl child to baby seat her little brother when the mother is busy? Why should it be her to wash the dishes and to be in the kitchen when the boys are doing their homework?” asked Opio.
Higher education director, ministry of education Elizabeth Gabona said the attitude that girls cannot perform well in science subjects that only boys can do sciences needs to change.
“We are emphasizing science subjects but, even with the affirmative action in place, the number of female students admitted to university to pursue science disciplines is still limited compared to that of the boys,” said Gabona.
She added: “Much as we have almost an equal number of female and male students graduating from Universities, if you look at the disciplines they have graduated in, there are hardly any girls in the science disciplines. It is because girls have been discouraged that sciences are for boys. But we know it is not true.”
FAWEU recognized five women for their ‘outstanding contribution in girl child education’.
Maama Theresa Mbire, former education minister Geraldine Namirembe Bitamazire, and Elizabeth Opio, received plaques as women of distinction.
MP for persons with disabilities (Eastern Uganda) Helen Grace Asamo and Greenhill Academy rector Joyce Veronica were given model of excellency awards.
Sarah Ntiro is remembered as the first female graduate in East and Central Africa. She is also famous for advocating women’s rights.