By not engaging men and boys in the fight against child marriage, we are just stirring the pot deeper

Globally, there is a rising consensus steadily evolving among community leaders, the educated, and policymakers that ending gender-based violence and discrimination requires the full involvement of communities — and in particular, the increased participation of men and boys.

This is because men and boys worldwide continue to maintain an unfair high lead compared to women in all areas – in August Houses and in stadiums; in homes, the classroom and the places of work. This is worsened by the still common practice of men making decisions for women regarding their welfare and dictating how they should live their lives.

All this is cheer led by the unchecked cultural practices which stem way back before the birth of global equality, gender and women’s rights movements for example the United Nations, Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch which have played a significant role in advocating for gender equality even when gender equity remains not yet achieved.

It’s this centralization of power on men together with primitive cultural practices, which make gender inequality a thorn in the foot of the global quest for a fair and balanced community, the desired light at the end of the global equality tunnel.

However, this chest thumping of men puts them at a very big disadvantage which is silent but dangerous. For instance, giving confidence to a man to have more than one partner puts him at a very high risk of getting sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV. Making a man marry a teenage girl just makes mutual love and affection impossible as the girl is not psychologically ready for intercourse.

We have to change this perception. We must make men agents of change in their own lives and in the lives of women. We must organize men to advocate for the change of the unfair cultural norms starting with their hearts and minds.

The Outcome Document for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the 2030 Agenda, stresses the importance of achieving gender equality and specifically calls on governments to eliminate discrimination and violence against women and girls. Within that context, there is a critical need to recognize the role of men and boy.

All this must be done through sharing of information and resources after educating men and boys, bolting the speed of awareness of gender based violence and nurturing their ability to cultivate nonviolence.

We have to involve male peer educators in the different school outreaches to speak to fellow young boys about the same issues. Here, the boys get to understand the dangers of a society where girls are at a disadvantage and how they can contribute to the positive contribution of the development of the girl child.

Consequently, we have to recognize the now clear trend beyond the laws which state that boys and girls, men and women are equal, and move to a new movement of the actual recognition of gender equality. By this, men must act and be part of the solution.

Finally, it is critical to involve men and boys in efforts to better women’s health, economic and social status. Society must acknowledge how some men’s behavior and attitudes limit women’s lives. But it’s also critical to address underlying traditional expectations and structures that lead to their actions – as well as help men understand how they can benefit from changing their behavior. Ultimately, to achieve more equitable relationships, we have to question men’s and women’s beliefs about their roles in society.

Why Girl Empowerment Programs Should Move from Boardrooms to Communities

Girls' Globe

Why don’t many Ugandan girls go to school? Is it because they have no books or uniforms? Or they have to trek long distances? The answers to these questions might be affirmative. But that is not all. There is another, rarely talked about problem that can bring girls’ education, social status to a screeching halt: the simple lack of a sanitary towel when she has her period.

Phionah Kizza has been working with AFRIpads, a social enterprise in Uganda that manufactures and sells washable cloth, sanitary pads, for two years now as a supervisor in the production facility. During the commemoration of World Population Day by Reach A Hand, Uganda in Kawempe, a slum in Kampala city, she had an opportunity to show adolescent girls and women who were at the event how to use these reusable pads. The event was commemorated in partnership with UNFPA under the theme Harnessing…

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Just posting my blog and going

We’re almost mid this year and I think I have broken 70% of my 2016 resolutions (please don’t come to me with those don’t be like Batambuze lines. I will tell Kayihura to ‘deport’ you to Moroto). To be honest, I have no explanation for this.

At the start of this year, I set out resolutions; To read 45 books in 2016 (that’s on average 4 books a month), to finally man up and go to driving school, start daily early morning meditations, hit the gym and also start jogging like those other corporates but alas! The devil must be sneaking into my mind every day shaking it like Winnie Nwagi (she’s overrated by the way) and after, engaging me in satisfying promiscuous procrastination intercourses to my manipulation!

To the best of my knowledge, I have read like only two books each month so far and the rest of the resolutions, remain in the pipeline waiting for the government of Uganda and Tullow Oil to start drilling oil from Lake Albert.

But leaving Satan out of this, I think (and only think) resolutions are overrated. I mean, if 2016 resolutions were wishes, Elton Joseph Mabirizi would be the new president of Uganda, Ragga Dee would be Lord Mayor and my Dad would be bragging to his colleagues in the village why me, his son, is a practicing lawyer (poor guy).

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Anyway, it feels good to be blogging again. I last blogged actively on this personal blog last year around July shortly after my graduation from UCU law School.

By that time, having a blog was a trend/fashion. Every big wig, social media “influencer”, annoyed Ugandan, “concerned citizen”, my-mum-told-me-I-can-write,  I-didn’t-make-it-to-journalism-school-but-i-can-also-write etc, would have a blog and behold! Blogger would be a new addition to their resume.

Let me be clear; Writing/blogging is not restricted to journalists and reporters. For the record, most good writers, are not journalists by profession (I will mention a few shortly). You don’t write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say.

You don’t write to tell the world you have been given expired medicine. So what will happen when the next 100 times you go to a pharmacy, you are given the proper medication? Write about the different stories on problems in our health sector affecting everyone not only when it affects you.

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If only the key was in yellow not blue

This is where I pause to applaud Some of the consistent bloggers in Uganda. Joel Ntwatwa tops this list. This good chap’s blog, has been constantly updated almost every month from way back before 2010 making him the most loyal, committed and dedicated blogger. If I had powers of the leopard, I would have given him a free district.

Brian Kyeyune is another one.  I still don’t know why he keeps calling himself a struggling blogger yet he is good. I like Brian’s blog because he keeps it simple, plain and straight forward not others who went to law school and want to show off all the infragrante delictos they learnt.

Moving on, now, point to me in the direction of anyone who doesn’t like Ernest Bazanye‘s humor blog, and I will tell you why the world should have ended after that 2012 movie which made me sale off my sweet potatoes plantation thinking Kyibwetere had made a new revelation.

Other good bloggers are Edna (simple, consistent and a lovely feminist), Simon Kaheru (a father figure to bloggers), Patricia Kahill (she represents women in tech), Trish (am in a complicated relationship with this sweet feminist friend of mine), Marie (I actually  found out her blog recently. It’s full of color and great portraits) and my good friend Kwezi Tabaro who predicted by blogging midlife crisis way back in 2014.

I feel it’s 2016 and these awesome bloggers needs to be rewarded beyond just sharing their blog posts and commenting. Kenya just held its 2016 blogger awards spearheaded by the Blogging Association of Kenya. I look forward to finally seeing a bloggers community of Uganda coming up to pick a leaf so that we see a new dawn of  a big movement of local bloggers .

With that, thank you for reading and I hope I won’t be disappearing anytime soon. Time to make this my new resolution and saying bye to Satan and his Winnie Nwagi moves on me (LOL). Let me even publish my blog and go.

 

We need to start a new conversation about sex and young people

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There is one simple transgression that can rob young people of responsibility, happiness and future opportunity. So poorly understood, this act is nonetheless silent but extremely common: lack of knowledge about sexual and reproductive health (SRHR).

At this very moment, in all four corners of this country, a young girl is either having an abortion or living to the terms of an unwanted pregnancy, one is being forced into marriage, the other is having unprotected sex and one has just learnt that she has contracted the HIV virus.

For most of the history in Uganda, young people have made life choice decisions simply because of cultural practices, ignorance and because of stereotypes associated with their ages.

I witnessed this last Saturday during the inter-generational dialogue organized by Reach a Hand Uganda (RAHU) at the National Water and Sewage Corporation (NWSC) International Resource Center. There is a problem we are facing but giving it little attention.

It is from that problem that we need to start a new conversation about sexual and reproductive health among young people countrywide instead of burying our heads in the sand like ostriches thinking that all is well.

Let’s look at the statistics from the dialogue. The median age of sex debut in Uganda is 16.7 years (which is among the lowest in the world). Even then, you will get shocked to find that 43% of those are already sexually active by 15 years and 62% of those are already sexually active by 19 years.

On the other hand, we have the highest HIV prevalence among the young people in this region (East Africa) of 3.7%. Of those, it is even girls who are most affected. The rate for boys is at 2.1% (15-24 years) and for the females stands at 4.9%.

Hold your peace, that is not all. 24% of girls between 14-18 years are giving birth to children yet they are also still children. 49% of girls below the age of 18 years are married off and 15% of these, are below the age of 15 years of age!

We must pause and reflect where we are going as a country!

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But again, it is not the statistics that we should get worried about but the consequences out of the factors that give rise to those statistics.

Young girls are at a very high risk of death and permanent injuries both psychological and physical. These risks include high maternal mortality rates (which in Uganda stand at 430 deaths out of 1000 births, one of the highest in the world), fistula, depression, psychological torture, oppression and low self-esteem for the rest of their lives.

This is the generation we pride ourselves in as being the youth capital of the world since the youth population stands at 78% of the total population whereby also 65% of the above are below the age of 15 years.

I repeat, we must reflect where we are going as a country.

We are in great danger if we don’t do much to end the HIV prevalence among the young people. We are in great danger if almost half of this generation is living in depression. We are in great danger if young people do not have knowledge about the life choices they are making and above all, we are in great danger if we are forgetting that the youth bulge we are having today, will be the old generation bulge thirty years from now.

But again, am not here as a prophet of doom nor masquerading as a wise man from the east but as a young person who believes that even with the challenges we are having, something can be done.

To start with, I will applaud the fellow young people at Reach a Hand Uganda for starting these conversations which are solution oriented. It is gratifying to see young people making a difference to advocate for the rights of young people.

It is from such dialogues that we seek to understand and at the same time understood then empower ourselves with knowledge relating to sexual and reproductive health.

To quote Dr. John Charles Orach, he said that “what we are, you are but where we are, you may never be”, this symbolizes the fact that older people are custodians of knowledge whom we should look out to for guidance.

The old people on the other hand, should be willing to listen and understand the changes we have today in society. Young people today view problems and solutions different from what the old people do. Therefore we need to create linkages of how we must understand each other and empower ourselves.

In conclusion because conclude I must, young people do not have knowledge about sexual and reproductive health. They do not know their rights and the policies we have today are not helping. We must include young people in dialogues about the same topic, listen to them. That is the first step to reducing the risks associated with SRHR today.

Can youth use social media to bring change in Uganda? Well, its complicated

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Internet photo

When masses of young people took to the streets of Tunis, Tunisia, on December 18 2010 to demonstrate against the corrupt, despotic government and its incompetence in fighting the rising food prices and high youth unemployment, they communicated through social media means that you and I take for granted.

Utilizing Twitter and Facebook, they mobilized fellow young Tunisians in large numbers to unite and express their dissatisfaction with the 23-year-old regime that had done almost nothing but to suppress civil rights at the expense of the minority ruling class. The minute President Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali fled the country on Jan. 14 2011, it became clear that the first ever Twitter Revolution in the world had occurred.

A universal social media revolution is unfolding before our eyes, forever changing the way we connect. I see this everywhere I go; youth in all major towns preoccupied with their cell-phones; a young girl tweeting from a health-care clinic in Kampala; a young Ugandan nurse taking notes on her iPad.

At the same time, we are living in a country faced with huge social challenges. Last year, Uganda reached a historic milestone with 37 million people, Eight million of which are youth aged 10 to 24 and of this young population, over 40 percent live in major towns across the country.

This generation, the most interconnected generation ever (globally), continues to grow rapidly, and the challenges we face per country are ever more daunting. About a quarter of all young people in Uganda survive on less than two dollars a day. More than two million adolescents do not attend school. Every year, over 300, 000 adolescent girls become mothers and over a half of the 380 new HIV infections each day are young people.

Therefore over the next ten years and beyond, if we are to solve these challenges of our our time, we need to tap into the dynamism of  digital youth movements and young social entrepreneurs, for they have the potential to disrupt inertia and be the most creative forces for social and political  change. We need to ask ourselves: how can we – young people, youth leaders, youth led NGOs, academia — empower ourselves to drive social and governance progress in Uganda through new and innovative projects?

With the status quo, am afraid the answer to the above is long term. Just spending an hour on twitter, will show you that most youth are interested in European soccer, gossiping, posting lyrics and looking out for the latest nude releases (by the way, am serious on this).

Many of us don’t even realize how dramatically social media has changed the face of the Earth. Now, it is just a matter of clicking the buttons “Like”, “tweet”, “post” or “Comment” to make Uganda’s social and political situation make a giant leap or take a sharp back turn. And I couldn’t help but again wonder: do we really know what we want to share to the rest of the world as young Ugandans?

Our country has a long history of youth-led movements dating way back to 1960s that brought about significant social and political change. Young people have advocated for child labor laws, voting rights, civil rights, civic engagement and above all democracy. Through their actions, at least we can say they have played their part.

Major examples of the above include our current president Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. Museveni together with a couple of friends formed the FRONASA when he (Museveni) was just 26 years old! On a social scene, Sister Angelique Namaika the nun who saved 2000 victims from LRA insurgency are the striking examples of the current old generation who played their roles when they were still young.

The question now is, do we care for the future of this country or not? If our fathers and mothers who were not connected like us made a difference and shaped their now future of Uganda, what excuse will we give for not utilizing the potential and masses we have like never before?

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Because young people often have the desire, energy and idealism to do something about the injustice they see in their community, they are powerful agents for change. They just need to be shown that they have that potential to bring about change both politically and socially in this digital and connected era.

Esther Kalenzi (40 Days 40 Smiles), Humphrey Nabimanya (Reach a Hand, Uganda), Patrick Mwesigwa, Irene Ikomu (Parliament Watch) and now the team of bloggers behind This Is Uganda (blog and twitter pages), are among the notable young people and organizations which have tapped into the potential of using social media for social and political change.

On the other hand, massive and successful hashtag campaigns which have led to connective and collective actions have been received widely on social media. These include(d) #SaveTheMiniSkirt, #TweepsHelpBududa, #UgandaWalks, #MPsEngage, #Hoops4Grace, #UgandaIsNotSpain, #AskThePM, #Kony2012, #BuyABrick and #SackOfMoney.

However, a closer look at the above hashtags rises a striking common characteristic. Almost all the above collective action digital campaigns were in 2013 and below. This raises the question of whether the new Ugandans on social media and Internet as a whole are not interested in effectively using the Internet for development rather than just gossiping and retweeting tabloid pages.

So as we are busy commenting on and retweeting gossip pages, here are examples of youth making a difference across the world through social media.

Two young girls in Latvia used a grant they received from the US Embassy to build an e-petition system so their fellow Latvians could participate in policy changes through submissions and suggestions. The government looks at petitions supported by at least 20% of the population of Latvia. Here is a video by the Guardian where the foreign affairs of Latvian was talking about the petition.

In Pakistan, Students participated in a Sanitation Hackathon in 2013 to develop mobile- and web-based applications for water and sanitation utilities. It is on record that over 100 students below the age of 26 from all over 20 universities in the country came together to find solutions for 13 water and sanitation related challenges in their communities.

Lastly in Philippines, students are using social media to inform the public about the challenges they are facing at school. Most young people in the Philippines are online, so interactive websites for example checkmyschool.org are making it very easy for them to evaluate their schools. Projects like these have the potential to be implemented in various parts of the world including Uganda. Here is another video illustrating Check My school;

The above are just examples we can borrow to begin advocating for political and social changes in Uganda through technology and social media. We have to be ready for change as young Ugandan when that time comes.

I believe that young people in Uganda can be the spark of change in our country. However, we need to do a better job of creating engaging programs that help young people develop confidence in taking action by making leaders embrace the digital atmosphere, learn new skills that lead to employability and accountability, and leverage the power of technology to help solve problems.

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Internet photo

Ethics and Social Media in Uganda: Where Do we Draw the Line?

Source: Revine

Source: Revine

Gone are the days when only high energy physicists had ever heard of what is called the World Wide Web. Today, even cats and dogs have their own pages on the internet!

The internet has made information accessible in a swift and easy way, openly accessible and within instant scope.  In simple terms, it has transformed communications and social networking, crafting a zone which is so universal and infinite.

People connect, share data and work via the internet all day, every day, everywhere, without realizing that it is completely decentralized. The internet therefore, plays a great role in removing the borders of nations, and assisting in the process of globalization.

Consequently, the rise of social media as an innovation to the internet, has made the impossible become possible. With Twitter, Facebook, WhatsApp, Telegram, Google Plus, LinkedIn, Flickr and Instagram, and with many more still developing on Google Play Store, Ovi Store and App Store, social media has already signed, stamped and sealed the fact that it is here to stay and a necessity on a global base.

The two most popular websites, Facebook and Twitter, which were founded in 2004 and 2006 respectively might be just sites, but they are big. Globally, 1.2 billion people regularly use Facebook, 255 million regularly use Twitter, 500 million “tweets” are made a day and there are 90 million blogs of which these numbers keep on doubling every after six months.

To be specific, In Uganda today according to Social Bakers, there are approximately 1,260, 000 Facebook users (4.6% penetration), 35, 000 Twitter active users ( 1.2% penetration) and 500 bloggers out of the total 37, 101, 745 population of Uganda as at February 2015.

Use of internet in Uganda on the other hand is also steadily rising. According to The National ICT Policy for Uganda 2012, there are over 7.2 million internet users, Mobile penetration per 100 people stands at 50.5, Internet wireless/mobile subscriptions is at 1.5 million people, fixed internet subscribers are 90,000, broadband Penetration is at 9% and the personal computer penetration per 100 people is at 2.3.

The above figures, already show the never ending significance of ICT (and social media) in lieu of any community whether least developed, developing or developed. Nevertheless, one question rises concerning the type of information we share on the internet and social media.

Institutions, organizations and companies like National Water and Sewage Corporation, Airtel Uganda, 40 Days 40 SmilesNational Social Security Fund and Kampala Capital City Authority take credit for having effectively utilized the importance of social media through online customer care and feedback to bridge the gap between them and their clients/fans.

On an individual basis however, it looks to be a little bit different. Sex tapes, nudes, misleading information, spontaneous and unauthorized death announcements, cyber bullying, harassment and trolling, defamation, revenge pornography, virtual mobbing, disclosure of confidential information and unauthorized use of copyright-protected works are now the order of the day.

Recently when Musician Emmanuel Mayanja a.k.a. AK-47 passed on, images of his dead and bleeding body where being made display/profile pictures on WhatsApp. Nude photos of musicians and “celebrities” like Cinderella Sanyu a.k.a. Cindy, Zarina Hussein a.k.a. Zari, Judith Heard, Desire Luzinda, and most recently Anita Kyarimpa alias Fabiola among others, have become the topics of analysis, commentary, discussion and opinion by all sorts of Ugandans on Social media.

This is rather sad. Minors who are now getting access to internet and social media sites at a tender age are being exposed to the adult content freely and at any time. This is worse when these minors are being exposed to such content when it is their parents (or one of their parents) that are the actual people in such material. They become the center of bullying and laughing stock by their peers.

Additionally, this new trend of sex tapes and nudes has made “celebrities” engage in them as a way of remaining relevant to their audience and media. Except for remarkable circumstances like Desire Luzinda and Anita Fabiola whose photos were leaked to the media by ex-boyfriends (if it is true anyway), this new lifestyle needs to be regulated.

How it will be regulated to strike a balance between all rounds of people, is also a question. Freedom of expression, hacking, privacy and assembly remain some of the most conflicting arguments on the internet. Most people who post such data on the internet which is considered harmful and immoral, have a defence of freedom of expression which is recognized under article 29 of the 1995 Constitution of the Republic of Uganda.

In March this year, the Constitutional Court of India declared section 66A of the country’s Social Media Law which sought to filter and regulate the content posted on Facebook and twitter unconstitutional. It reasoned on basis of technicalities on interpretation of the law.

However, this freedom has its limits which also extend to social media. Misuse of social media has consequences which have penalties attached to them. Splashing nude photos after a break-up and using your phone to disclose unauthorized information on social media is a direct attack on privacy and freedom of expressions within its limits.

It is just common sense that the brand you create online reflects on you as a person. It is not expressly written that people should behave in a certain way online but it is implied that someone’s behavior online must be professional. This is because everyone is responsible for what he or she posts online.

On the other hand, the current legal framework also does not give effective solutions to the status quo. The Computer Misuse Act 2011, which is the main cyber law legislation in Uganda, is rather a problem instead.  It contains ambiguous, vague, imprecise, sweeping, broad and confusing provisions that have potential to gravely affect the date rights as a whole.

Some of these Sections are 9, 10 and 11 (in relation to right to privacy), 3, 21(2), 24, 25 and 28(5) (imprecise) and  5, 12, 18 which unduly limit access to information in a broad manner and does not conform to the standards set out within the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Consequently, whereas the government is allowed to limit the enjoyment of freedoms, the restrictions must be narrowly defined and should conform to international standards of which Uganda is a party. The Computer Misuse Act falls short of these standards.

Existing rules for the ethical conduct of human subjects even when hard to define, must be clear because there is no universally approved code of ethical conduct. Therefore, considering what is private and public data on the internet and social media must be clearly stipulated as the first way to handle ethics on social media and internet as a whole.

Social media is not bad. The vast majority of people who use the social media are like society. The vast majority are decent, intelligent, inspiring people. The problem comes with a small minority, as in society, who spoil it for everyone else.

Conclusively, ICT and social media play a major role in all aspects of national life: economic life, politics as well as social and cultural development. It also relates to human rights and supports freedom of expression and the right to information. But caution should be taken in what, how and when we post online.

Internet Anarchy

Very nice thoughts here on internet and privacy.

jonanluleti

the continued and unabated leakage of sex tapes, their unrestricted access by both the old and morally virgin, will sooner than later lead us to a society where one is exposed, and is free to expose others as they wilt. This is what I sturdily term as “internet anarchy”.

Sex tapes have become an apparently amazing venture, for both the morally depraved and the inquisitive. On the other hand they have become so excruciating, a prick in the skin, to the main participants or victims. The issue of sex tapes comes hand in hand with the problem, or better, the utopia of the new age of technology. These become an issue where the main participants are, or at least one of them is recorded unknowingly, or they are undesirably exposed on internet. They also become an issue where all and sundry can access them.

I was graced with…

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