The Domestic Violence Act (DVA) coalition members came together on the 24th of November 2020 to launch 16 Days of Activism at the Uganda Museum. The 16days of Activism takes place every year from the 25th of November up to 10th December. The DVA coalition is a consortium of about 30 women’s rights organizations such as UWOPA, UYAHF, Raising Voices, CEDOVIP, UNASO, FIDA, ActionAid International Uganda, Uganda Law society, UN Women, and UWONET, who work towards the elimination of violence towards women and girls. This years’ campaign theme is safety, well-being, and creating new realities for women. Cognizant of the disproportionate effects COVID-19, and the ongoing electoral processes marred with violence, continue to have on women and girls in Uganda. We call upon individuals, communities, duty bearers in all capacities to ensure that every girl, every woman, wherever she may be, is safe and well.

This theme was chosen because we are undergoing a pandemic, and the current state of things for women and girls’ well-being, isn’t good. Before the pandemic, violence against women and girls was already rampant, but the outbreak of the pandemic made it worse. Their care burdens tripled and informal and formal businesses collapsed. Many women have been and continue to suffer from domestic and gender-based violence in silence as what little service providers there have also been in lock-down. We need to ensure women and girls are safe so that violence against women and girls is eliminated from our country.

Defilement of girls of all ages including toddlers continues unabated, sometimes by those closest to them including family. Between April and July 2020, 547 girls were reported to have been defiled in Kampala according to a report from the Central Police station. Many adolescent girls are currently pregnant with little hope of returning to school even after the pandemic is over whilst some have been unlawfully married off, in some cases to meet the survival needs of their families in the form of a dowry. During the lock-down alone, 2,372 girls in Kitgum, Ngora, Kyegegwa, Kasese, and Lyantonde Districts got pregnant as a result of defilement and at least 128 girls were married off in Kyegegwa, Rakai, and Luweero around the same time. Clearly, on top of the already existing inequalities, discrimination, exploitation, and abuse, women and girls are shouldering extra caring responsibility with no or little extra support. Women and girls are not well!

The members of the Coalition called upon;

The Justice Law and Order Sector:
1. To prioritize and allocate funds for Violence against Women prevention and response interventions during and after the COVID 19 pandemic and ensure that they are deemed essential and accessible at all times.
2. To strengthen gender data collection and dissemination on the impact of COVID 19 on women and girls, to inform adequate programming and interventions.
3. To allocate specific funds to implement the Domestic Violence Act and other Violence against Women responsive laws.
4. To uphold women’s safety and well-being through the provision of survivor-centered services

Community members:
1. Speak out against Violence against Women whenever you see it in your community.
2. Report Violence against Women cases happening in your community to the police, local council, or probation office.
3.Reach out and support women and girls experiencing violence to enhance their safety and well-being.

Religious and cultural Leaders:
1. Speak out against norms and practices that perpetuate violence against women and girls.