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Don’t fold your hands and wait on govt to deliver sanitary pads for your daughter, MP Kamateeka tells parents

HEALTH | The Chairperson of parliamentary Committee on Human Right, Jovah Kamateeka, has urged parents to take the lead in provision of sanitary pads to their daughters instead of “folding hands to wait on government to deliver.”

The Mitooma District Woman MP said there were efforts on the ground to secure sanitary pads for emergency situations in schools and called on government to make deliberate efforts toward the cause.

“We are working with the civil society to make sure that schools put in place sanitary pads for emergency so that a child whose menstruation starts without her being aware of her days can get a pad from the matron. But I would like to call upon parents who are blessed with a girl child to plan for them instead of waiting on government,” Kamateeka said.

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The legislator was speaking at Parliament where the Uganda Women’s Parliamentary Association (Uwopa) was addressing journalists on the activities lined up for the ’16 days of Activism to End Gender-Based Violence.’

The issue of sanitary pads remain a major challenge in most developing countries, especially after schoolgirls, most of whom skip school during their periods while others resort to using rudimentary alternatives like leaves.

Studies have variously showed that most schoolgirls in developing countries like Uganda drop out of school altogether due to trauma associated with menstrual cycle in school.

In the recent past, human rights activist Stella Nyanzi took the matter into her hands by running a campaign to provide sanitary pads to schoolgirls after accusing the government, particularly First Lady and Education minister Janet Museveni, of irresponsibility.

Dr Nyanzi’s campaign drew the ire of the State machinery, leading to confrontations. She eventually abandoned the project.

At Parliament on Wednesday, Kamwenge Woman Dorothy Azaire Nshaija gave a glimpse into how deep rooted gender-based violence is in Uganda. She said that during this year’s celebrations, the campaign will shine the spotlight on the girls’ and women’s experiences of sexual harassment.

Azaire, who holds the treasury of Uwopa, called on Parliament to expedite the amendment of the Employment Act to mandate all employers, regardless of the number of employees, to have a sexual violence policy as a requirement and put in place measures to curb sexual violence and exploitation at work place.

According to figures available, more than one in five women aged 15-49 experienced sexual violence compared to 8% of men while 56% of ever married women and 44% of ever married men have experienced spousal violence according to the Uganda Demographic Survey 2016 and the national teenage pregnancies rate is 24.8% among girls aged 15-19 years.

Additionally, statistics from Uganda Police Force annual crime report 2017 on gender-based violence indicates that crimes in that category have increased with domestic violence accounting for 15,325, defilement 14,985, child neglect 10,021, sex related crimes 16,862.

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