SPECIAL PROJECTS
 
2nd December 2004.
UWOPA seeks equal opportunities for all

By Elizabeth Agiro
WEEKLY OBSERVER

A recent visit to her home district of Kaberamaido shocked the Chairperson Uganda Women Parliamentarians (UWOPA) Mary Amajo to her senses.

Amajo, who is also the district's woman MP, couldn't believe that women still support bride price and widow inheritance.
"That is violence," Amajo said.

She cited a woman who reportedly asked what the use of producing a daughter is if she cannot bring home bride price.
Another woman argued that when a woman's husband dies, it's no use for her to return to her parents when the deceased's brothers exist.

In addition to all the problems that accompany widow inheritance, she said, there is the HIV/AIDS factor and women being treated as property in the home.

"Women are quite ignorant. Some think they are born to suffer," she said. "Women must distinguish between duty of a wife and where they must take control of their life and what's against them as a human beings."

In a male-dominated world, Amajo believes there is hidden violence, which comes out of failure to enact laws, which are gender sensitive. "It's time people started thinking of things in a globalised way," she said.

According to Amajo, Female Genital Mutilation is the highest level of violence but because it's covered up in culture, people don't see it as glaringly violent. She said people don't think beating women is an abuse against humanity.

"In war situations, men tend to fight their battles on women's bodies. It's a continuation of the battle; transferring it from the battlefield to the women's body, in form of rape and defilement."

Amajo's argument is that sensitisation would be one of the ways to minimise violence against women. "Legislation doesn't work in isolation. The biggest part is sensitisation of the society," she said. She proposed incentives where people who work against these practices can be rewarded.

She said UWOPA would continue fighting for an equal opportunities commission in order to take care of the minorities who are women and children.

eagiro@ugandaobserver.com