For the maturity of the Ugandan society today, the status of the girl- child is the key to achieving women’s equality and dignity. Women of today are the mothers of our race. Girls are future mothers but can be law makers and leaders. Unfortunately, our culture attaches much importance to women as being helpers rather than as being equal to men. Women and girls have been subjected to injustice for ages. Some people think the birth of girls may be a disadvantage to them. Others think that girls are simply a source of wealth through bride price. And the majority are certain that girls are losers.
There is need for change of attitude in regard to equality between boys and girls. The belief that only a male- child can support parents during their old age is wrong. Women need to be empowered. Every citizen should be made aware of the fact that girls are as important as boys. Given the right opportunities, they can take care of and economic support to their parents as well. Society should therefore protect girls’ rights. Girls should not be used as domestic laborers. Physical abuse and harassment of the girl- child should be dealt with and the guilty should be punished as per the law. The environment in and out of school should be girl- child friendly.
In some Sub- Saharan African countries, adolescent girls have HIV up to five times as high as adolescent boys. Pregnancies and child birth related problems claim the lives of nearly 130,000 teenage girls each year. At least one in three girls and women has been beaten or sexually abused in her lifetime. An estimated 450 million adult women in developing countries are stunted, a direct result of malnutrition in early life. Every year, two million girls and women are subjected to female genital mutilation. Similarly the teachers’ initiative in Sub- Saharan Africa report also showed that only 10% of girls complete higher secondary (senior six) education in Uganda. However, even those who complete, according to the report, could at some point have been engaged sexually or are romantically active with men who are much older than them. Many of them are already actually out of school.
In Uganda, under the initiative to girl- child empowerment, several social organizations have forward to offer education to teenage mothers, build toilets at girls’ schools, and offer sanitary pads as part of their corporate social responsibility. Unfortunately, these are normally one- off events and yet girls need constant supply of sanitary towels and continued education/ awareness. Therefore it is important to earmark funds for the welfare of schools girls. We belong to a modern generation of humanity where we seek an environment where every girl is considered equal, free, and welcomed without any gender bias. This is only possible by means of a complete revolution in our way of thinking and change of attitude toward the girl- child.