With support from We Effect, NAWOU and Gulu District Network through Keru Women’s Advocacy Forum (K-WAF) conducted advocacy dialogues on gender concerns among community members and leaders in Layibi, Pecce, Bardege, and Laroo divisions in Gulu District from 20th to 24th August 2021.
The dialogues were platforms to identify pertinent gender issues and likely approaches/ commitments towards addressing them. In addition, alliances between community members and leaders were strengthened; leaders pledging to support the communities against the emerging issues raised.
Difficult access to healthcare and drugs among HIV/ AIDS patients were reported with only two (2) people on the Village Health Teams (VHTs) in one sub-county, the increase in Gender-Based Violence (GBV) incidences, early and child marriages, teenage pregnancies were all attributed to the far time spent home due to closure of schools. All these were the major issues that emerged from NAWOU’s interaction with community men, women and young people in the 4 sub-counties. An emerging issue shared was the increasing number of children aged 10 to 17 years leaving their parent’s homes and engaging in gang petty crimes while residing on the streets. The closure of schools due to the outbreak of the COVID19 pandemic has also heavily contributed to this.
With the differential between cases (of GBV, early and forced marriages, gang crime by children) known by law enforcers and those shared in the dialogues, it was highlighted that most cases were not reported which escalated the incidence rates. Community members were urged to report cases of crime, and other forms of abuse to Law enforcers as the first step to combat crime and abuse.
The idea of allocation of more members on the VHTs by the health centers was supported as this would bring health including sexual health services closer to the people. Leaders were also encouraged to be more deliberate about statistics in their respective spaces of responsibilities which would support evidence-based advocacy.
NAWOU, with support from WE EFFECT is implementing a 4 years’ project-Harnessing Women and Youth Potential to contribute to enhance rights of women, men and young people in four (4) districts of Uganda; Wakiso, Mukono, Gulu and Zombo to access, own and control productive assets including finances, land and adequate hosing for improved life by the end of 2022.