By John Mary Odoy
Uganda Today: A world cant be without women
It is now permanent on the global calendar that 8th March every year is the International Women’s Day which is an annual occasion at which the great achievements women have reached are recognised and celebrated. It is also a way for the world to be reminded that a world without women is no world. This is how important women are but despite this, women still have some concerns they face and have to grapple with today.
This year’s World International Day will be celebrated under the theme “Innovation and Technology for gender equality”. This theme speaks volumes and it is very relevant in the current circumstances of a fast changing world. Remember, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) say that no one should be left behind. This means that accessibility and availability should be to all without discrimination.
New and appropriate technology is not only essential but relevant in advancing empowerment of women and girls across the world, protect the rights in digital spaces and combat online gender-based violence.
The stereo-type of the socially constructed roles and responsibilities expose women to many inequalities, gender bias and discrimination, making them very vulnerable on many fronts. It is time that the rhetoric stops and enhancement of the rights of women and girls in digital spaces and combat online gender-based violence takes effect. This will help to make sure that all people have equal access to digital technology and the opportunities it provides across all sectors.
One of the sectors that need special attention is Climate Change which is one of the monsters that adversely affects women and girls more than the male counterparts. Studies have shown that extreme weather events due to climate change disproportionately affect women and girls and their ability to perform their everyday tasks, which partly explains why some girls are forced to drop out of school. In most Ugandan traditions women and girls are tasked with ensuring that they produce food and feed their families, procure of water, cooking fuel, and undertake other domestic or community chores. These roles are not easy to undertake under the current climate crisis. This therefore calls for women empowerment in taking decisions that will safe guard and improve the environment. They should be involved the designing, implementation and measurement of their climate strategies. Furthermore, women and girls should be exposed to the skills they need to respond to the impacts of the climate crisis and to hold duty bearers accountable.
In some communities in Uganda, many men are migrating from rural to urban areas to find employment, leaving women behind in charge of land and the household but with limited capacity to effectively utilize the land for meaningful productivity under the adverse climate change impacts. The men exodus is not only affecting productivity but has led to a rise in gender-based violence.
Cases of child marriage have also been observed in various communities as a means of coping with the disaster resulting from the climate crisis. Underage girls are married off as a way to acquiring funds or assets for survival, pay school fees for boys and pay debts got due to climate-related disasters, like bad rains and storms, extended dry periods and overflow of rivers and lakes.
Therefore, the scheme to enhance women’s access to appropriate technology and unlimited digital spaces will boost their effective demand for gender equality in all sectors.
John Mary Odoy,
Former Chairperson and Climate Change Ambassador, Climate Action Network, Uganda