UWONET boss Rita Aciro

Women under the umbrella of Uganda Women’s Network (UWONET) have pleaded with the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga to plead on their behalf so that Ireland does not withdraw from funding the Gender Based Violence (GBV) programmes in Uganda.

The government of Ireland funds GBV activities through Irish Aid but the funding comes to an end next month.

Ms.Rita Aciro, the Executive Director of UWONET said that the programme has improved social tolerance among communities on GBV, adding that because of the programme, communities have broken silence on GBV.

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“As a result of the programme and other stakeholder’s actions, the recent Uganda Health Demographic Survey indicates that violence against women has reduced from 56 percent to 28 percent,” Aciro said during a meeting with Kadaga at her Chambers at Parliament.

She said that through the project, UWONET established and was managing two shelters for women and children in Kamuli and Namutumba, and one advisory centre in Mayuge.

Aciro, who led a delegation of women activists including MPs under the Uganda Women Parliamentary Association, told Kadaga that there are no clear signs of how the shelters will be used in the event that that the support ends.

“Our people will lose a lot if this support ends. We believe that due to the good work, if you put in a good word and support to the Ambassador of Ireland, there is a possibility of additional funding especially for the advisory centre and for the shelter related work,” she said.

She also asked the Speaker to lobby for increased government support towards GBV activities, especially shelters which she said are run by civil society. She also urged Parliament to ensure that Civil Society benefits from the World Bank loan for GBV.

“We are looking forward to Parliament approving the World Bank funding because Kamuli has been identified as one of the beneficiary districts,” she said.

Kadaga promised to discuss possibilities of additional funding from the government of Ireland, with the new Ambassador of Ireland.

She also revealed that she held discussions with the World Bank in regard to funding of GBV projects.

“It is fortunate that I held a meeting with World Bank officials this morning and GBV funding was among the issues discussed. I will make sure that UWONET is among the beneficiaries of the GBV loan,” said Kadaga.

She encouraged UWONET to engage government to support civil society activities, rather than relying on development partners.

“I was able to do this with the campaign against female genital mutilation and it was successful. We cannot rely on development partners alone,” she said.

Other activities for which UWONET requires Parliament’s intervention are; fast tracking of the Marriage and Divorce Bill and the Sexual Offences Bill, and engaging government to ensure affordability and accessibility of services at the new Women’s Specialized Hospital in Mulago by women in rural areas.