The United States (US) Ambassador to Uganda Deborah Malac has tasked government to come up with concrete actions against the violence of women in the country.
Malac made the remarks at the celebration of the 243rd anniversary of the independence of the United States of America at her residence in Kololo, last evening.
The celebrations were held under the theme of 100 Years of Women in Democracy. Malac said that the theme will be used to highlight the struggle and achievements of women and the power of citizens united for a cause.
“It is a day when we honor our country’s founding ideals of democracy, liberty, and equality – the ideals for which we still strive to manifest for all Americans. 100 years ago, in 1919, the U.S.
Congress passed the 19th Amendment, which provided women the right to vote, and laid the foundation for the advancement of women’s rights in the United States and globally,” said Malac.
The Ambassador noted that women’s rights are human rights and that investments in women’s employment, health, and education have a direct connection to a country’s economic growth and successful development.
She however said that one area of major concern and perhaps the greatest constraint on women’s full participation is high levels of gender-based violence. She noted that the number of gender-based violence cases reported in Uganda continues to increase annually.
“Not only is gender-based violence an assault on the ideal of equal rights for all, but it is also harming Uganda’s prosperity. A study by the Center for Domestic Violence Prevention showed that gender-based violence costs Uganda 77.5 billion Shillings annually,” she said.
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She said that in Uganda, the US is investing in a broad range of programs to support women and girls citing funding to women’s health, especially maternal and child health, prevention of gender-based violence, and prevention, care, and treatment of HIV/AIDS.
“Going forward, we are excited to strengthen our efforts in partnership with the Ugandan government and people to support girls and women throughout the country. The work of advancing women’s rights is difficult and uncomfortable – we have certainly experienced this in the United States – but it is crucial work, and we urge the Government of Uganda to prioritize actions to combat gender-based violence and ensure equal opportunity,” Malac advised.
She said government must channel it’s collective outrage over sexual harassment, assault, and physical and emotional violence against women into meaningful actions – not just blame the victims and sweep incidents under the rug.
To reach the envisaged destination, Malac said education, health and poverty eradication are all key to creating an environment that protects women and children and allow girls to grow safely and achieve their full potential.
“Yes, infrastructure is important for long-term economic growth and development, but it cannot come at the expense of investments in education and health because human capital is equally as important as infrastructure. Countries cannot succeed without women fully in the development equation,” she critiqued.
Prime Minister Ruhakana Rugunda said that Uganda associates with the ideals that inspired the struggles for independence in the US and fully supports the emanicipation of women.
“Uganda enjoys bilateral relationship with US and that has strengthed and maintained over the years. It is good that the foreign policies of the two countries are guided by trade and investment and trade volumes between the two countries have been growing steadily and can be improved further,” Rugunda relayed Museveni’s speech
He also commended US’s support of 970 million Dollars per year to Uganda towars malaria treatment, Aids treatment, boosting economic growth through Agriculture and others.