On May 18, 2020 Uganda Girl Guides Association together with other Girl Guide Associations in 10 countries in Africa and Asia, launched a campaign against Gender-Based violence.
By Linda Amoako
‘We are social distancing and in lockdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but in the process, an already existing epidemic of Gender-Based Violence is getting worse’, Jean-Ann Ndow-WAGGGS Global Advocacy Lead.
On May 18, 2020 Uganda Girl Guides Association together with other Girl Guide Associations in 10 countries in Africa and Asia, launched a campaign against Gender-Based violence. This is one of their initiatives to advocate on issues affecting society, especially girls and women.
This comes in the wake of rising cases of domestic violence during the lockdown period. According to a recent media report, between March 30 and April 28, Uganda registered 3,280 cases of domestic violence; out of which 283 was child-based violence.
Recently, there has been a video going viral on social media of a young man battering an elderly woman. This young man later found out to be in his 30s was the grandson of the elderly woman he was abusing.
And her crime was her refusal to share a part of her money with him for use on a drinking spree. Another incident was reported where a boda boda operator strangled his wife and two children.
By the end of April there had been 9 reported death cases in Uganda from domestic violence during the COVID-19 lockdown period! These are among the many cases being reported each week and from the figures the numbers are increasing daily.
Gender based violence takes different forms. In their campaign, the girl guides are addressing different aspects of the violence that are common in the countries where they are.
For example, in Uganda, the focus is on domestic violence against women and children while in Kenya they are addressing rape, in Ghana psychological abuse, in Zambia on women battering as violence in Zimbabwe they are focusing on sexual violence while in Nepal they are campaigning against acid attacks.
The World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) recognizes the unique role that girls and women have to fight for themselves and stop Gender-Based Violence. While nowadays it is true that men are also victims of gender-based violence, the majority of the victims are girls, women, and children.
‘We are social distancing and in lockdown because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but in the process, an already existing epidemic of Gender-Based Violence is getting worse’, says Jean-Ann Ndow-Global Advocacy Lead of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts.
In supporting the fight against gender-based violence, girl guides educate and empower girls and women on how to protect and stand for themselves.
They believe that to effect change; women and girls must be empowered right from the grassroots, and stop thinking of themselves as victims but as people who can fight for themselves. Ye! Girls and Women can fight for themselves. When they know their rights and don’t underestimate their abilities to protect themselves, they can stop the violence Gender-based violence.
At the global level girl guides worldwide join the rest of the world in the 16 days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence, an annual international campaign that kicks off every 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, and runs until 10 December, the Human Rights Day.
The campaign was started by activists at the inaugural Women’s Global Leadership Institute in 1991 and continues to be coordinated each year by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership.
It is used as an organizing strategy by individuals and organizations around the world to call for the prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls. Girl guides get involved in this campaign every year.
In recent years, the voices of survivors and activists, through campaigns such as #MeToo, #TimesUp, #Niunamenos, #NotOneMore, #BalanceTonPorc, and others, have put the spotlight on the issue of sexual and Gender based violence.
The writer is a Girl Guide from Ghana, currently in Uganda for six months as part of the YESS Girls Movement -an International Exchange Program of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts