|Overview : |
1. Introduction and Background
Violence against women and children (VAWC) is one of the most widespread, persistent and devastating human rights violations in the world today. It is a major obstacle to the fulfillment of women’s and children’s human rights and development and a threat to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.
Gender inequality and violence are manifested throughout the life cycle of women and children, in countless ways, and are widely accepted as a normal part of what it is to be a woman, girl or boy. According to the 2016 UDHS, 56% of women have experienced spousal violence and 22% sexual violence. Economic violence and the denial of women’s and girls’ land and inheritance rights, including illegal deprivation of widow’s and orphan’s assets also remain rampant. Harmful practices (HP) such as child/early marriage and female genital mutilation (FGM) still prevail in some parts of Uganda. For example, over 15% of ever-married women (aged 20-49 years) were married by the age of 15, and 49% by the age of 18 (UNICEF). The Violence Against Children Survey (2015) revealed that 35% of girls and 17% of boys had experienced sexual violence, and 59% of females and 68% of males reported experiencing physical violence during childhood.
Harmful social norms, attitudes, behaviours and practices – particularly discriminatory gender norms, inequitable power relations between women and men, and norms and practices around marriage and girls’ education – are a root cause of VAWC and HP in Uganda. The patriarchal system in Uganda upholds values, beliefs and practices that reinforce the privilege of men and their role in society. For example, according to the UDHS 2016, 49% of women and 41% of men believe a man is justified in beating his wife in certain circumstances.
The situation has been compounded by limited access to sexual and reproductive health services and essential medical services for survivors of VAWG/HP. This has resulted into a low modern contraceptive prevalence rate of 35% and unmet need of family planning as high as 28% and teenage pregnancy rate is one of the highest in the region at 25%. Obstetric complications are common with an estimated back-log of 140,000 – 200,000 obstetric fistula cases in Country.
To address the challenges of violence against women and girls specifically, the European Union (EU) and the United Nations have embarked on a new multi-year programme - the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative. The Spotlight Initiative aims to support transformative change on the ground to end violence against women and girls and harmful practices, in numerous countries globally. The Initiative comes with the highest level of commitment globally and will be governed by the UN Deputy Secretary-General and the Vice President of the EU Commission.
Uganda is one of the eight countries in the African region selected to benefit from the Spotlight Initiative. The Spotlight Initiative in Uganda will be implemented through five UN agencies (UN Women, UNFPA, UNDP, UNICEF, and UNHCR); the Government of Uganda, including the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Ministry of Local Government, JLOS institutions, District Local Governments and civil society. It is anchored in the United Nationals Development Assistance Framework (UNDAF 2016-2020) for Uganda and supports Uganda’s advancement towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), in particular SDG 5.
The goal of the Spotlight Initiative is for all women and girls, particularly those most vulnerable, to live a life free of violence and harmful practices, including child marriage and FGM. It is built around six pillars developed after an extensive global theory of change exercise and contextualized to the Ugandan context:
1. Enhanced legislative and policy framework;
2. Strengthened institutions;
3. Prevention and social norm change;
4. Quality survivor services and ending impunity for VAWG/HP;
5. Improved data availability and capacities; and
6. Strengthening the women’s movement.
In Uganda, the Spotlight Initiative programme will focus on seven locations: the districts of Amudat, Arua, Kasese, Kitgum, Kyegegwa, and Tororo and Kampala, the capital city of Uganda.
Uganda approved the Country Joint Programme Document, which was developed in full consultation with and participation by Government of Uganda, CSOs, traditional and religious leaders, private sector and other stakeholders. National and district-level inception meetings were held in August and October and a high level launch will be held before the end of the year. Notably, programme implementation began in Q2 / 2019.
The Country Programme Document contains a monitoring & evaluation (M&E) plan and a draft results framework.