“I hear the roar of women’s silence, I sense the rumble of their storm and feel the fury of their revolt” Thomas Sankara
Women have a pivotal role to play in ensuring that the gender specific targets in all the 17 goals are met. From the MDGs era, it emerged that 52 of the 143 countries that had signed onto gender equality did not provide for it in their constitutions even by 2014. Goal 5 which is a standalone goal on gender equality builds on lessons from implementation of MDG 3 by prioritizing focus on ensuring all the basic rights of women and equality in all areas are guaranteed. The SDGs provide an opportunity for women and girls to position themselves as key actors in influencing prioritization of their issues in the implementation phases of the SDGs. The 2016 SDG Report stresses the need for strong partnerships across civil society, government, private sector, and the academia as vital for successful implementation, monitoring, review and follow up of the 2030 Agenda. At country level, this calls for improved coordination of local implementation actions including capacity building efforts, mobilization of resources and data generation, and utilization to ensure that partners make cost effective investments towards attaining the SDGs.
It is against this background that the Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE) organized a multi-stakeholder launch to create awareness on the importance of mainstreaming gender equality in all SDGs and generate more commitment from all the stakeholders. The multi-stakeholder launch was aimed at creating awareness on the importance of mainstreaming gender equality in all SDGs and generate more commitment from all the stakeholders. The main objective of the launch was to promote strategic national cohesion for realization of gender equality in the SDGs by 2030. It brought all together 100 people including government officials, Members of Parliament, civil society and private sector actors, development partners, gender champions and community level actors and unveiled the call to action on promoting gender equality in the SDG context.
The evening started off with the board chairperson FOWODE Ms. Joyce Tamale welcoming invited guests to the launch of the vice to action which builds on the global theme: “Leave no one behind and focuses on advancing gender equality in the SDGs.
Professor ALhaji Jallow the country representative FAO congratulated Uganda for domesticating the SDGs and development of legal frameworks. He further explained the SDGs process in Uganda noting that SDGs offer a world free of discrimination, it priorities gender equality and women face barriers in realizing their economic rights due to gender stereotypes and negative social norms. Noting that government stakeholders need to promote investment across all sectors to benefit all women. He noted that SDGs provide an important framework for collective action to achieve gender equality. He urged government to remove legal discriminatory frameworks and put in place policies that encourage girls and women participation in the development process if SDGs are to be achieved. Use gender sex and gender disaggregated data to address the inequalities and there is a need for evidenced policy formulation. Lack of gender statics hampers effective main streaming of gender. Gender inequality thrives on inadequate information on gender issues, lack of prioritization and inadequate resources. He urged that specific attention should be given to accountability mechanism to ensure that gaps in the implementation of SDGs are addressed.
Ms. Anna Mutavati the deputy country representative for UNWOMEN Uganda who gave the opening remarks said that the launch of voice to action is a clear indication that Civil society are committed to taking the unfinished gender equality fight forward, women challenges are not insurmountable. She further noted that as UNWOMEN it remains committed to supporting partners, governments and civil society to ensure that SDGs are implemented in Uganda. As a country we must draw lessons from the millennium development goals where Uganda registered some process in gender parity in order to achieve the SDGs. Let’s engender the SDGs to ensure that no one is left behind.
The executive director FOWODE Ms. Patricia Munabi Babiha explained that the voice to action document that was developed in 2016/2017 and will guide civil society and development actors in engagement on the key critical issues that can enable for the achievements of the various gender targets for women and girls in Uganda; through a conceptualization process, the UGCS identified issues of critical concern to women and girls and these were classified under 4 clusters, their corresponding major issues and sub-issues. The Actualization of ‘Voice To Action’ will be led by the Uganda gender consortium (UGCS) which is a conglomerate of like-minded actors within the women’s, civil society, and gender equality movements in Uganda that will harness the power of collectivity to champion the SDGs. The UGCS will complement the efforts of the Uganda NGO Forum as it will monitor and report on the components of gender equality in the SDGs at the local and national level. UGCS will ensure that women are active participants in global governance processes, tap into each other’s comparative advantage, and jointly engage on Agenda 2030.
The guest of honor Hon. Ruth Nankabirwa launched the “voice to Action” and also thanked FOWODE for being a pacesetter and spearheading the discussion on how we can ensure that no woman is left behind in Uganda and that there is meaningful engagement with the SDGs at the local and national level. Noting that all efforts must be made by all stakeholders and citizens to uproot gender discrimination wherever it manifests itself. The multi-stakeholder process will help us deliver more concretely on Agenda 2030 as a country but also ensure that no woman is left behind.
The scope and ambition of the SDGs indicate that governments alone cannot achieve this agenda. It requires joint effort and voice to action is a women’s contribution to ensuring that the SDGs speak to the majority of the women of Uganda who are usually left out of development processes. It’s a 15years journey ahead of us, it our duty as citizens to ensure that the gender targets are achieved in all SDGs, we cannot dare to leave any one behind, leave No woman behind. Walk with us. Together united we can achieve the gender targets in SDGs. The launch ended with a networking and socializing cocktail, thanks to the FOWODE team for organizing, coordinating and team work to pull the launch off. Indeed it was a success