The International Womens’s Day celebrated yesterday brought forth yet another opportunity to put focus on the contributions and challenges women worldwide continue to face.
Our national theme: ‘Empowerment of Rural Women and Girls: Opportunities and Challenges’, drew from the rural women who form the bulk of Uganda’s female population, according to the Uganda National Household Survey 2017.
According to this survey, 52 per cent of Uganda’s population, which stands at 37.7 million, are women and of this population, 76 per cent are rural communities. The statistics based on the social, economic and political challenges women both in the rural and urban areas face are still high and these numbers are often published in different media.
The government seized the opportunity of the commemoration to highlight on the steps it has taken to enhance the position of women.
Granted. There are programmes both by government and private sector to empower women and deal with the challenges such as maternal mortality, early marriages, unemployment rates, land ownership, inclusion, property ownership, and security, among other rights.
However, it is critical to highlight the fact that women’s rights need to be brought to the fore as beneficial to the community as a whole. In his speech at the national celebrations, President Museveni acknowledged that women are the base of society, but wondered why for some unknown reasons, society continues to maginalise them.
Society has isolated the challenges women face as “women things”. Not until the rights of women start to be recognised as the mandate of everyone will we see progress in our communities and country as a whole.
Why, for instance, were Womens’s Day event yesterday organised by women and had majority women attendees? We need to stop this business of isolating women-related issues and making them the concern of mainly women activists and women themselves.
Why, for instance, does the print media relegate women’s affairs to special pages rather than regard them as national issues that warrant space on the front pages. Why are these issues seen as priority on March 8 specifically? When women fall victims of insecurity like the recent serial murders in Entebbe, why do we see women-related rights bodies advocating for justice.
The suppression of women’s rights does not affect only women, it affects the entire society.
If the status of Uganda’s women is going to be elevated and progress made in the various programmes, it should involve all of us. Women’s’ Day is not a women thing, it is a thing for all of us, men and women, activists, youth and just about any person. We must all press for progress.