FREEDOM AND ROAM UGANDA STATEMENT INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY CELEBRATIONS 2017
Today is international women’s day across the world. According to the UN, it is “a day when women are recognized for their achievements without regard to divisions, whether national, ethnic, linguistic, cultural, economic or political. It is an occasion for looking back on past struggles and accomplishments, and more importantly, for looking ahead to the untapped potential and opportunities that await future generations of women.”
Women are organizing events to celebrate their achievements and highlight the need for full gender parity. This year’s theme BE BOLD FOR CHANGE was chosen to encourage women from all over the world (mothers, sisters, wives, friends, lesbians, bisexual, and transgender women) to step up and take ground breaking action to help drive gender equality.
Unfortunately, although tremendous work has been done regarding the sexual and reproductive health rights of women including LBTI/WSW women in Uganda, there is still so much more to do. An article about HIV/AIDS infection in Uganda by US national library of medicine stipulates that HIV infection is higher in women than men (approximately. 1.4 times higher). They however base on the misconception that HIV transmission is primarily heterosexually in Sub Saharan Africa disregarding the fact that we have LBTI/WSW women infected, affected and living HIV/AIDS in Uganda. ‘’Let’s say transmission heterosexually caters for bisexual women, what about LBTI persons who get infected through corrective and collective rape and other behaviours sexual or non sexual that expose them to the contacting HIV’’.
This women’s day, FARUG is ‘’BEING BOLD FOR CHANGE’’ and taking a stand against HIV/AIDS programmes and policies in Uganda that continue to discriminate LBTI/WSW infected, affected and living with HIV/AIDS. They are not considered a ‘’high risk population’’. The ministry of health (M.O.H) now prioritizes gay men in its HIV programming by ensuring that they have access to free condoms and lubricants whilst not catering for health needs of LBTI/WSW women.
Let us implement best practices to ensure that LBTI/WSW health rights are respected. International women’s Day is a movement not just a day, be brave to take on new steps.