UGANDA – Uganda has hosted the National Symposium on the Impact and Sustainability of Gender Based Violence Shelters focused on creating more safe spaces for survivors and funding options for shelters.
The National Symposium highlighted the importance of the interlinkages between violence against women and girls, and women’s economic empowerment including how violence leads to major economic costs for society.
The meeting held in Uganda was organized by the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women – Uganda (UN Women), Action Aid and the Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development (MGLSD).
Other participants at the conference include District Local Government (DLG) Officials, District Community Development Officers (DCDOs), civil society organisations, UN agencies and other stakeholders.
During the Symposium, a short documentary was screened on gender-based violence (GBV) ahead of a presentation from the Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development on the status of GBV Shelters in Uganda.
UN Women is cognisant of efforts underway supported by the Government of Uganda and Development Partners like Sweden and Norway, but the reality is that some of the shelters are not operational due to lack of funding, and others are on the brink of closing.
The National Symposium on Gender Based Violence Shelters presented an opportunity for notable delegates to focus on the need for additional financial support to the GBV shelters to ensure continuity of GBV Survivors critical services.
They engaged in a plenary discussion where participants shared concerns around inadequate funding in this area, the influx of survivors, the functionality of the referral system as well as a call for the Ministry of Gender to support the GBV shelters.
The United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women announced that sustainability was at the heart of the discussions with presentations and discussions held around the funding options for shelters.
According to UN Women Africa, shelters are a critical part of a holistic approach to violence against women and girls particularly in providing refuge, medical, legal, economic and psycho-social services for victims.
The UN organization fighting for gender equality said that there are 20 shelters in total in Uganda supported in partnership with the Government of Uganda and the MGLSD, noting that the shelters are managed by UN Women supported partners.
“When women have a source of income, they can access justice, provide for their own needs and decide to move on from abusive relationships,” the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women emphasized.
The UN body further pointed out that the strategic direction of the Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development is to mainstream the GBV Shelter programming but inadequate funding hampers implementation.
“Much has been done in terms of legal policy framework, social norm change, coordination and a multi-sectoral approach but all this requires financial support,” explained UN Women Africa.
In addition, the National Symposium on Gender Based Violence Shelters focused on strategic partnering with sustainable institutions and other partners such as high-net-worth individuals to provide funding to sustain shelters.
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