Message from the chairperson of the Uganda Human Rights Commission on the International Women’s Day (2018)
The Uganda Human Rights Commission joins the world community to commemorate the International Women’s Day, which is marked on 8th March of every year. The Commission adds its voice to that of all other human rights actors in celebrating the milestones so far achieved in ensuring that women, the world over, make significant progress in realising human rights for them to live in dignity.
All human beings are born equal in dignity and rights. Indeed, women and girls have human rights the same way men and boys do, because they are all human beings. However, historical factors influenced by culture, tradition, law, economic status created gender-based obstacles including discrimination that prevented women and girls from enjoying human rights at an equal footing with men and boys. It is the struggle to eliminate the obstacles, that contributed in part to the global recognition that special efforts were needed to address the inequalities and build gender parity. Commemoration of the International Women’s Day presents another crucial opportunity to take stock of this journey; how far the world community has come; what is worth celebrating and how far the journey ahead still is.
The Commission acknowledges all the initiatives and efforts aimed at increasing the opportunities for women and girls to actively and meaningfully participate in various spheres of life. Looking back at their situation, it is gratifying to see that women have made significant strides in claiming and finding their deserved space in the civic, political, economic, social and cultural domain especially so at the leadership level.
Inspite of the progress made since the struggle for the rights of women and girls started, some challenges have persisted as new ones have emerged threatening to reverse the gains that have been made. International, regional and national reports, while acknowledging progress so far, have indicated a worrying threat of retrogression, owing to the slow pace at which gains are being made towards realization of the rights of women and girls. Out of this concern, the international community resolved to commemorate this year’s International Women’s Day under the theme: ‘Press for Progress’. This is meant to draw attention to the fact that stakeholders should not become complacent about the gains but remain motivated and vigilant for the struggle to achieve equality in rights and dignity.
As an acknowledgement that discrimination and gender inequalities affect the vulnerable and marginalized rural women and girls much more than men and their urban counterparts, Uganda decided to focus this year’s commemoration on them. Under the theme: ‘Empowerment of Rural Women and Girls: Opportunities and Challenges’, stakeholders will take stock of the national efforts and initiatives to increase access to opportunities for inclusive development that is sustainable.
Specifically, the Commission calls on government and all stakeholders to use the occasion to reflect on the challenges that impede women, especially rural women and girls from realising their full potential and fully enjoy their rights and freedoms. In view of the challenges, they should identify opportunities that are critical, appropriate and adequate in enhancing the deliberate empowerment of rural women and girls.
As a National Human Rights Institution, the Commission urges the Government of Uganda and all other duty bearers to effectively apply the Human Rights Based Approach to empower women, including the rural women and girls, to get out of their situation and participate meaningfully in decisions on their governance and development.
The Commission pledges commitment to continue fulfilling its constitutional mandate to enhance the rights of women and girls. Through human rights awareness creation, complaints management, monitoring government compliance with treaty obligations; advising government on how to improve the human rights situation, the Commission will contribute to national, regional and international efforts to enable women, including rural women, enjoy their human rights and live in dignity.
Happy Women’s Day to you All.
For God and my country
Med S. K. Kaggwa
Chairperson, Uganda Human Rights Commission