Ending Gender-based violence

Our Strong focus on this theme is in addressing the underlying factors of gender inequalities especially the Women and Girls of all ages. GALS methodology shall be scaled up to ensure that women’s rights are at the center of all programming as well as address the social hindrances to women’s participation in decision making over productive assets. Viable campaigns and actions to address Violence Against Women and Girls at all levels are designed to benefits the entire community.

Our programming principle in child protection is designed to prevent and respond to rights violations, abuse, and exploitation of vulnerable and marginalized children. We focus on building the capacity of Child Protection systems, creating a safe and productive environment for children in the family, community, and institutional levels.

We rally stakeholders and key duty bearers to commit to ending violence against children and women and be accountable to their communities.

What’s the child marriage rate? How big of an issue is child marriage in Uganda?

According to the survey report by Trailblazers Mentoring Foundation (TMF), three in ten Ugandan girls have their first child before their 18th birthday; more than a third marry before the age of 18. Indeed, both child marriage and early childbearing lead girls to drop out of school prematurely. The survey summarized that many girl children are married off at the age of 15, while at least 40% are married before they are 18. By 2014, 61% of Ugandan children below the age of 18 years had been married off according to Trailblazers Mentoring Foundation (TMF) survey report.

Despite the government’s effort to offer free primary and secondary education, the rampant cases of early marriages have derailed the primary school completion rate among girls in most communities in Uganda.

Summary:

40% of girls in Uganda are married before their 18th birthday and one in 10 is married before the age of 15.

According to UNICEF, Uganda has the 16th highest prevalence rate of child marriage in the world and the tenth highest absolute number of child brides globally – 787,000.

Customary marriages or informal marriages, where a girl lives with an older man, are more common than registered civil or religious marriages.

11% of currently married 15-19-year-old girls are married to men who have more than one wife.

A 2017 World Bank study shows that ending child marriage in Uganda could generate USD514 million in earnings and productivity.

Drivers of Child Marriage in Uganda:

Child marriage is driven by gender inequality and the belief that girls are somehow inferior to boys. In Uganda, child marriage is also driven by:

  • Level of education: Some parents in Uganda feel that educating a girl is a waste of time and resources when she will ultimately marry and gain lifelong security.
  • Poverty: Girls living in Uganda’s poorest households marry at a younger age than those living in the richest households. Some parents see their daughter as a source of wealth as she can fetch the bride price from her husband’s family when she marries.
  • Family honor: Some families, especially in traditional ethnic communities, marry off their daughters to protect them from early sexual encounters and safeguard the family’s dignity.
  • Peer pressure: Pressure from friends to marry, and early exposure to pornography and “experimentation” in adult relationships, have been highlighted as drivers of child marriage in Uganda.
  • Displacement: Uganda hosts some of the largest numbers of refugees in the world, including from South Sudan, the DRC, and Ethiopia. A 2016 study among internally displaced Ugandans in Mucwini, northern Uganda, and Congolese refugees in Nakivale settlement, found that child marriage provides families with legal protection from defilement (sex with a girl under 18) which is a crime in Uganda. Within the camps, child marriages are organized hastily.
  • Basic needs: Some Ugandan girls marry to access sanitary products. Some parents attribute child marriage to moral decay and a “greed” for material things.
  • Traditional customs: A 2013 study in Mayuge, eastern Uganda, found that local communities perceived girls to be ready for marriage when they develop breasts. Female Genital Mutilation and Cutting (FGM/C) is also considered a sign of readiness for marriage.
  • Adolescent pregnancy: In many Ugandan cultures, pre-marital pregnancy is associated with embarrassment, disgrace, and curse, which drives some girls to marry. Some girls in Mucwini reported that girls have to “prove” fertility for a boy to marry them.

Our Interventions on Child Marriage in Uganda:

We work with key stakeholders in the communities and map the risks girls are exposed to that may foster child marriage and systematically develop action plans with communities to address such barriers from the onset. This enables communities to own their initiatives and actions towards ending child marriage in their communities. Our Social Workers who are trained on psychosocial care and support, Child Protection and Prevention and Response to Gender-based Violence (GBV) make timely follow up to families to ensure cohesion and peaceful resolution of conflicts arising from cultural differences.

As a rights-based organization, we also employ a child rights approach where children are involved in community campaigns, awareness creation on the value of girl child, engage families to develop their Girl Centered Action Plans (G-CAP) which enables the family to plan for the economic well-being of the girl child. Our community action groups support to monitor and follow up with families and communities to ensure smooth implementation of actions.

Supporting girls stay in school: APPCO works with different institutions including primary and secondary schools to support girl’s stay in school and complete their education cycle. We contribute fees to some most vulnerable girls, purchase and supplies sanitary towels, soap, basins, buckets, Jik, etc. to ensure Menstrual Hygiene and Management (MHM) for girls in schools. We also purchase uniforms and other scholastic materials for girls to ensure they stay in school without lacking such necessities.