Oyam north

Women’s Day: Oyam North MP says no need to forget ‘women on the margins’

(Last Updated On: 8 March 2024)

In the true spirit of this year’s theme, when we are talking about investing in women, we are not only targeting a woman as an individual, but also the networks and connections of resources around her, to strengthen them so it can be a mutually rewarding experience for everyone,” says Dr Eunice Apio Otuko (MP). 

Oyam I Annually, March 8 is a special day for women. The Day celebrates the achievements made by women of diverse knowledge and backgrounds and discusses their future, opportunities and challenges.

Uganda joins the global families to mark this day – with the national commemoration taking place in Katakwi district. The United Nations’ theme: ‘Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress’ intends to give hope to the now empowered gender across nations.

On Friday morning, tndNews had an interview with the Oyam North Member of Parliament, Dr Eunice Apio Otuko to get her understanding of the Day, and what it means to women and girls.

Honourable, today is a special Day for you, your female constituents and the nation at large. How relevant is the theme, and what is your general submission?   

“The theme, ‘Invest in women: Accelerate progress’ resonates with very many of us, women and girls and our families as well because when we are talking about women we are not only looking at individual women, we are looking at women and her social ecology.

“We need a woman and then the connection of person, of people, of things, including the environment because these days we know the impact of climate change on woman, girl and family – we know that. So, when I am looking at the theme, I am looking at a woman as a person situated within this social environment that has many other entities in it – many other people, many other things because we cannot operate as human beings isolating ourselves, no. We need to draw on the environment just as the environment draws on us.

“So when you are talking about [for me as a woman] also as a local leader in Uganda, in Oyam North; when we are talking about investing in women and accelerating progress, I am looking at all of our women in their different categories: the ones who have not gone to school, the ones who have not been in schools, the ones especially on the margin of the society – the poor – the ones who are grappling still.

“And you know where Oyam is. In Oyam, some years ago, we were in the heart of the conflict – the LRA conflict – one of the longest in this country and we are privy to it. We went through the experiences, the abductions, the camp life; the sexual violence – we still even have sexual violence happening at the moment; young girls dropping out of school for a lack of a better option and getting married early.

Also read: Women’s Day 2024: Rights defender Tamali Auma calls for girls and women protection  

“Oyam, I think raises up there negatively when it comes to sexual violence; we have one of the highest rates of sexual violence on women and pregnancy, so we have a lot to do.

“When we are talking about invest in women, we are not only talking about economic investment, we are talking about social and cultural aspects, education and many others. But it is not all gloomy, I think we have done well; we need to celebrate the little win. I always tell ourselves that we need to ‘look for the opportunity where we have done well already’ and we have done well as a country in a number of ways. We have girls [I’m an example], mentoring girls whose communities have invested in them like they have done to me, venturing now out into areas that traditionally were excusable of men only.

“In Oyam North, we have a woman [that is me] representing the people of Oyam North, that is an investment the people have put in me as a country and also as the people of Oyam North. The investment here goes beyond merely just putting a woman in the seat predominately occupied by men, it’s about the mindset change now, we are investing in women because they have invested also in other areas – educational, and security: people can now go to school not because their families are wealthier or they can afford it, no; but because they know that it is important to give an opportunity to children of any gender.

“The bottom line is that, for me as a leader in Oyam North and also in this country, when we are talking about investing in women we don’t have to forget about women on the margins because they are facing stigma. As I said, Oyam has one of the highest rates of sexual violence, there is stigma that comes with that but also the economic and cultural responsibilities that come with that – so on and so forth. It is not the end of the road when it comes to that; we need to rethink and give opportunities to young women and their families.

“Secondly, I would also like to commend the government for the initiatives it’s coming up with under the Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development like the GROW Project. I see it has started to make fruits here in Oyam North, and I know a number of girls and women already benefiting.

“I would like to encourage women and girls who can take such opportunity to take up but also the government [the ones responsible for discharging activities under that project] to embrace women irrespective of their background: economic, social.

“Invest in women to accelerate progress even in hard-to-reach areas like Oyam North where we have some many girls in need of that facility, and we call upon the government to do that and I will be available to make sure girls are heard and they can also invest in their selves. We are not only to invest in women and girls but also we want them to invest in their selves and I think for me, that is my catchphrase.

“In the true spirit of this year’s theme, when we are talking about investing in women, we are not only targeting a woman as an individual, but also the networks and connections of resources around her, to strengthen them so it can be a mutually rewarding experience for everyone. At the forefront should be women and girls on the margins of social economic development – those who have fallen through the gaps, and are grappling with issues of poverty, health, etc.”

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