On 2nd July 2021, from 4:00 pm – 5:00 pm, Tunaweza Foundation hosted a webinar on gender -based violence (GBV) faced by Girls and Youth with Disabilities during the COVID-19 Lockdown in Uganda with Support from UN Women Uganda. The aim of the Webinar was to provide an opportunity for sharing and discussing different approaches to mitigating Gender-Based Violence faced by girls and youths with disabilities.
Various reports from universities, Uganda police and many other sources indicated that GBV against people with disabilities had increased during the national COVID-19 lockdown. The existing government systems were overwhelmed and thus not entirely effective in responding to this secondary challenge. Civil societies and funders have thus gone a long way in supplementing government efforts to overcome such unprecedented challenges like heightened GBV under lockdown.
Tunaweza Foundation joined hands with existing structures through various ways. One of them was the invitation of speakers and participants to engage in a conversation of how to improve the country’s institutional capacity to develop an effective system for collecting accurate and reliable gender-disaggregated data on Gender-Based Violence. Tunaweza also advocated for the involvement of Persons with Disabilities in decision making. We believe that this debate will help generate insights and ideas to lead the country towards developing the necessary interventions and supporting the UN SDG vision 2030 agenda of Leaving No one Behind”.
Invited panelists were:
- Patrick Sebintu – Behavior change & Communication Specialist at Straight Talk Foundation.
- Naome Akwee – Disability Advocate.
Mr. Tonny Musisi – Administrator, Tunaweza Foundation.
Sign Language Interpreter
Ms. Olivia Nakigozi
Tunaweza Foundation’s Executive Director gave a brief introduction about the purpose of the webinar and the expected outcomes. Patrick Sebintu observed that due to the limited movement during the lockdown, NGOs are having a hard time reaching girls and youths with disabilities who are experiencing domestic violence. Most of these do not have phones or access to the internet. “Support or assistance for girls and youth with disabilities experiencing domestic violence was not classified as an essential service that can continue during the lockdown. This indicates that a rise in the number of cases of domestic violence and delayed justice are likely”, said Patrick Sebintu.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted existing inequalities and systemic patterns of discrimination rooted in our societies”, said Naome Akwee. She also observed that the impact of GBV among girls and youths with disabilities who have been exposed to it during the COVID-19 pandemic intersects with women’s experience of the lock-down. This entails isolation, fear for the future, mental load, reproductive health rights issues, to mention but a few. The psychological consequences resulting from this combination lasts even after the lockdown.
Naome also noted that school lockdowns have exposed girls not only to a disruption in their education but also to sexual abuse and exploitation at home. Some have even faced early marriages and pregnancies. Additionally, Patrick advised that in times of crisis, special attention should be placed on the language used in framing the phenomenon of violence against women. He encouraged participants to always listen to the victims before making conclusions. He guided on online services where one can report and combat GBV against women. One other innovative way is the “Safe Bangle” technology developed by Mr. Ambrose Kamya, a Young African Leaders Initiative alumni.