Zero discrimination starts with you!

By Precious Tricia Abwooli -CEHURD

Today, 1st March 2021, we celebrate the zero-discrimination day. This year’s theme is directed towards zero discrimination against women and girls and the need to promote global equality and empowerment.  According to the 2012 World Bank’s World Development Indicators, “women form the majority of the world’s poorest people and the number of women living in rural poverty has increased by 50% since 1975. Women work two-thirds of the world’s working hours and produce half of the world’s food, yet they earn only 10% of the world’s income and own less than 1% of the world’s property”.[1]

Several efforts have been made to fight discrimination against women and girls overtime. These include several international, regional and national laws, conventions and policies. For instance, article 2 of the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) tasks state parties “to take all appropriate measures, including legislation, to modify or abolish existing laws, regulations, customs and practices which constitute discrimination against women.” Indeed, several state parties have done so, for example Uganda that in 2015 enacted a law eradicating the practice of female genital mutilation.

Nevertheless, discriminatory laws against women and girls persevere globally. They are coupled with traditions that portray them as second-class citizens and are evident across different sectors like health, education, marital rights, employment rights, property rights and more. A case in point is Uganda’s Divorce Act.

While sometimes a picture is painted depicting achievement of gender equality currently, it is likely due to technological developments that give increased visibility to women’s successes and ignores the discriminatory issues. Discrimination not only devastates lives of the women and girls and divides communities, but also undermines development efforts and the building of strong democracies. It locks women and girls into poverty, limits their right of choice and their ability to access education, earn a living and participate in political and public life.  Therefore, it is critical to increase women and girls’ participation in decision making. It is also important to focus on eradication of cultures and traditions that are discriminatory against women and girls. In Uganda’s case, Parliament needs to prioritize laws that promote non-discrimination against women and girls, particularly through revision of laws that do the opposite.


[1] http://documents1.worldbank.org/curated/en/820851467992505410/pdf/102114-REVISED-PUBLIC-WBG-Gender-Strategy.

We are hiring!

The Center for Health, Human Rights and Development (CEHURD) currently has a number of exciting career opportunities. The ideal candidates should have commitment to work with a dynamic organisation working on issues of health and human rights. The selected candidates bring their professional skillsets and work with CEHURD’s programmes and/or departments. The candidates will contribute towards the organisation’s strategic plan. The candidates should clearly indicate which of the three positions below they are applying for.

The Positions

Programme Specialist – Health and Human Rights Advocacy: The Programme Specialist, Health and Human Rights Advocacy is responsible for effective, efficient and impactful design and implementation of CEHURD’s advocacy strategy. He/ She will provide expertise in advocacy across all CEHURD’s programmes and departments. He/ She will be required to steer CEHURD’s activities regarding Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights and other emerging issues in health and social justice and align them with the approved advocacy agenda. The incumbent will work with CEHURD staff in finalising the advocacy strategy and designing appropriate advocacy tools and methodologies. He/she will participate in identifying impactful delivery mediums, as well as targeted publics and partnerships with the aim of fulfilling CEHURD’s advocacy goals and objectives.

Programme Specialist – Community Health And Empowerment: The Programme Specialist, Community Health and Empowerment is responsible for effective, efficient and impactful design of CEHURD’s community engagements and ensuring that they meet the organisation’s strategic objectives and advocacy agenda. He/she will lead and provide expertise in programme design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of outcomes. He/She will lead the process of continuously identifying strategic ways of popularising district and community activities amongst different stakeholders, as well as uplifting national level decisions to community and vice versa.

Programme Associate- Strategic Litigation: The Programme Associate will work under the Strategic Litigation Programme and will be responsible for performing the tasks listed in the job description towards supporting the litigation of human rights cases by CEHURD.

To apply

If you believe you are the ideal candidate, please deliver your Curriculum Vitae, Copies of your academic documents and a cover letter to:

The Human Resources Manager
Center for Health, Human Rights and Development
Plot 4008, Justice Road, Canaan Sites, Nakwero
Gayaza – Kalagi Road

OR Email your application to: info@cehurd.org with a copy to matovu@cehurd.org
The closing date for the receipt of applications is 1st December, 2020. Only shortlisted applicants will be contacted.

Reduce maternal mortality and morbidity; Adopt best practices in safe motherhood during and post COVD-19

Finalise and pass the National Health Insurance Scheme Bill into law that recognises the unique maternal functions of women by ensuring their ability to access affordable quality maternal health care services from both public and private health facilities.

Esther Dhafa, Programme Officer – Campaigns, Partnerships and Networks Programme, CEHURD

 

Every year, Uganda commemorates the Safe Motherhood day 17th October.The Center for Health Human Rights and Development (CEHURD) joined the country to commemorate this day by calling upon the Government of Uganda to actualise the declarations in the landmark case, Constitutional petition No. 16/2011. This can happen through enhancing and promoting best practices of safe motherhood during and post COVID-19 TO reduce maternal mortality and morbidity. By doing this, we can realise the “Every Woman Every Child” Global Health Strategy Commitments (EWEC) His Excellency the President of the Republic of Uganda made on 15th May 2016 . 

Uganda’s EWEC commitments include among others; ensuring that comprehensive Emergency Obstetric and Newborn Care (EmONC) services in hospitals increase from 70 per cent to 100 per cent and in health centers from 17 per cent to 50 per cent. It also includes ensuring that basic EmONC services are available in all health centers; ensuring that skilled providers are available in hard to reach/hard to serve areas; and reducing the unmet need for family planning from 40% to 20%; increasing focused Antenatal Care 4th visit from 42 per cent to 75 per cent, with special emphasis on prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT) and treatment of HIV to ensure elimination.

Small steps towards safe motherhood

We do commend the government for the great efforts in reducing the high rates of maternal mortality from 438/100,000 live births in 2011 to an estimated 336/100,000 live births in 2016 (per the Uganda Demographic Health Survey 2016). However, we also note the little progress being made as a country in addressing health related issues that continue to kill women in Uganda  helplessly during childbirth.  As a best practice therefore, maternal health care services should be available, accessible, acceptable and of good quality in order to enhance safe motherhood. 

Over the years and for this specific year,  CEHURD continues to work tirelessly to ensure that women and girls are able to access affordable maternal health care services. This has been done  through a number of approaches including strategic litigation, research, evidence based advocacy and  collective voicing to amplify the need for better health care and service packages countrywide. With these approaches, coupled with government efforts and adoption of best safe motherhood practices, Uganda will be able to reduce  maternal deaths caused due to preventable health causes. These causes include haemorrhage (blood loss), unsafe abortion, hypertension, embolism, sepsis, and other direct causes like complications of anaesthesia and  caesarian sections, and postnatal depression suicide.

As we continue to commemorate Safe Motherhood, CEHURD remembers all the mothers that have died while giving birth. Unfortunately, an estimate of 6,000 women die annually in Uganda as a result of pregnancy related complications making it about 16 women dying per day (UDHS 2016). This means that today 16 women have died, tomorrow 16 will die and 16 more will die the following day which is very unacceptable. With such scary statistics therefore, Government’s obligation to promote safe motherhood becomes important, to ensure that no woman, or baby dies or is harmed by pregnancy or childbirth. This begins with the assurance of basic safety living for all expectant  girls or women in our society. 

Landmark judgment for maternal health

The Justices of the Supreme Court of Uganda in CEHURD, Prof Ben Twinomugisha, Rhoda Kukiriza, and Inziku Valente Vs Attorney General (Constitution Petition/\ 16/2011) finally made a nine-year long journey of collective voicing and persistence worthwhile. The justices set a precedent on maternal health care in Uganda to the joy of various civil society organisations under the Coalition to Stop Maternal Mortality in Uganda (CSMMU), development partners, grassroot women and well-wishers who were have been pushing for better maternal health care. Court declared among others that the Government’s omission to adequately provide basic maternal health care services and emergency obstetric care in public health facilities violates the rights to health, life, rights of women, subjects women to inhuman and degrading treatment. The Court also stated that this is inconsistent with and in contravention of Articles 8A, 22, 33, 39 and 45 read together with objectives XIV and XX of the National Objectives and Directive Principles of state policy of the Constitution. 

Rhoda Kukiriza and CEHURD staff celebrate the positive judgment on Petition 16. CEHURD PHOTO/Jacqueline Twemanye

This suit was filed in 2011 seeking to challenge the Government’s omission to adequately provide basic maternal health services and commodities in public health facilities as contravening the right to health, rights of women, and right to life and freedom from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. It’s premised on the wrongful deaths of the late Anguko Jennifer who died on 10th December 2010 in Arua Referral Hospital and the late Sylvia Nalubowa who died on 19th August 2010 in Mityana District hospital. Both women died during childbirth when they needed caesarian sections but failed to access the commodities and human resources required to obtain the same.

Call to action

We thus call upon the Government of Uganda to fulfill its statutory obligation by;

  • Providing basic maternal health care services to  women in Uganda which include among others prenatal care services, skilled medical officers in health facilities, and provision of Emergency Obstetric Care and postpartum care. 
  • Investing in family planning, antenatal care, safe delivery, newborn care & Post-natal care, and Emergency obstetric care which are the key pillars of Safe Motherhood. 
  • Prioritizing basic maternity care, primary health care and equity for all women to enable them fully enjoy and fulfil their natural maternal functions which is a fundamental human right (Art 33 of the Constitution).
  • Finalise and pass the National Health Insurance Scheme Bill into law that recognises the unique maternal functions of women by ensuring their ability to access affordable quality maternal health care services from both public and private health facilities.

Lastly, informed and effective advocacy is the starting point for bringing about change. We thus call upon all stakeholders to join us in sensitizing the women including the youth and adolescents about safe motherhood and their right to receive and impart accurate sexual reproductive health information and empower them to make informed decisions to be able to keep and stay healthy since a healthy population is able to efficiently contribute to sustainable development. Safe motherhood values the girl child and implies the availability, acceptability, and easy access to health care for women’s prenatal, birth, postpartum, family planning and gynecological needs. 

Let us adopt a multisectoral approach to SRHR and Safe motherhood, for better health and healthy lives.

EVERY WOMAN DESERVES TO BE AND FEEL SAFE AS A MOTHER OR MOTHER TO BE.