The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga has called on heads of state of the Commonwealth member countries to come out with actions and way forward on issues pertaining to the protection of the rights of women and girls especially in developing countries.
“For CHOGM 2019, the heads of state should be asked to report among themselves on how far they have gone with the issue of combatting violence and achieving SDGs,” Kadaga said.
The Speaker made the remarks on the third day of the fourth Commonwealth Women’s Forum that sought to discuss issues which commonwealth heads of state could pick on for discussion during the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
The meeting that themed on eliminating harmful practices: child and early forced marriage and female genital mutilation, raised concern from women activists from countries where prevalence was very high.
Kadaga told the meeting that there was an urgent need to set up cross-border strategies especially in sub-Saharan Africa, to limit crossovers by perpetrators of female genital mutilation.
“Nobody is taking interest on the continent. They talk about it but I’ve never heard the African Union speak about FGM on the continent yet more than half the countries that practice it are in Africa,” said Kadaga.
Presenters at the meeting noted that it was necessary to involve the family and community at large, in the fight against FGM and early child marriages, adding that political will and apt legislation would go a long way in achieving success.
Also on the agenda was the involvement of women in leadership and electoral positions, which participants cited as far from success given that many societies hadn’t embraced emancipation of women as yet.
“Our laws are not specific on violence against women. They deal with disruption of elections at polling stations, but not with actual violence that goes on in homes and against female candidates,” Kadaga told the meeting.
She also made mention of the perennial issue of education where so many children were out of school; and commended governments like Ghana and Sierra Leone for committing to free quality education for 12 years.
The three day Commonwealth Women’s Forum also discussed empowerment of women with disabilities, eliminating child mortality in commonwealth member countries and promoting girl child education among others.