Kampala: The Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development Betty Amongi has emphasised the need to challenge the norms that prevent the girl-child from accessing health care, education and restrict their freedom of choice in marriage.
The Minister says that families and communities must be engaged in activities intended to address the root causes of gender inequality including pervasive social norms.
This comes after international civil society organisations raised a red flag on the high rates of early marriages across the country.
Phoebe Kasoga, the Plan International Country Director says that gender based violence is also still high with one in every five women or girls experiencing physical and sexual abuse. These concerns were raised during the commemorative event to mark the day of the African child held at the National Theatre in Kampala on Thursday.
The International Day of the African Child is celebrated every year on June 16 with a theme based on the views of children collected from various consultations with children themselves. It was instituted in 1991 and aims to celebrate children of Africa and promote their rights, as well as encourage reflection and action towards addressing the challenges they face on a daily basis.
The theme for the 2023 celebration which was, “The Rights of the Child in the Digital Environment,” couldn’t have come at a better time where there is growing need to protect children from cyber abuse and harassment.
Where does this leave the boy-child?
Today everyone is expected to be in the front to support all activities geared towards developing the girl child but again we would like our children to have equal opportunities and none of them should feel neglected, neither intimidated or discriminated against.
We want our children from both genders to know that they are both equal before man and God. We should all join hands and support for better future wives and husbands. We should empower the boy child to strengthen the future fathers. It is sad that the boy child has to choose his own future and chart his course without much guidance from the society (Government of Kenya, 1998). This neglect is noticed. In his bid to find his bearing, the boy child has now turned to vices such as drugs and substance abuse, sexual abuse and dropping out of school.
With the current state of affairs, the boy child is going to be no more just like the white rhinos in Africa if empowerment programmes continue to neglect the boy-child and out of frustration will push him to underground criminal activities.
There is also a need for stakeholders to put much emphasis on debunking the norm that gender equality means only the women but both genders of men and women.
In Uganda today, there are many men who continue to suffer in silence from domestic violence by their spouse and fear to report to authorities responsible simply society will label them as weak and not men enough.