On the issue of equality, I think that Uganda has never taken effort more than just talk and anticipation.
Girls miss school because they cannot afford sanitary pads to manage the menstrual periods but for today that will be solved by the incarceration, torture and persecution of Dr Stella Nyanzi Owenene.
When girls conceive, it marks end of their education in most cases while the boys/men continue unbothered even if they are both responsible for the pregnancy.
In all this we have had nothing but talk that we are on the path to attaining female emancipation. For me I think we shall not get there unless we erase the 19th century mentality of holding on to stupid values and useless religious beliefs that are holding back women from pursuing their dreams and enjoying a better life.
Some few years ago there was a proposal by some people to start distributing condoms in high school which proposal was met with the most radical opposition which has incessantly professed their support for equality; I think this is hypocrisy of the highest level. Let us face the truth; at what stage did most of you start engaging in active sexual activities if not 13 or even below? Now what makes you think that your brothers, children and grand children will abstain till the age of 25?
The refusal to offer condoms to high school students has and still exposes them to the dangers of unprotected sex such as pregnancy and Sexually Transmitted Diseases like the rampant HIV/AIDS. I know that there are so many arguments against such a move as encouraging young people into early sex but come on, their absence does not deter them. The Daily Monitor ran a story of 150 students who were arrested in Mbale and found in possession of condoms. Apparently, those who were not in possession of condoms but had engaged in unprotected sex were deemed well behaved and with their good manners they will have harvested HIV and early pregnancy. My sister Martha says THEY HAVE BRAINS, BUT DO THEY USE THEM?
There was a motion by the East African Legislative Assembly also known as EALA to avail contraceptives to the students in high school. This was met with sneers, disdain, ridicule, anger, scorn, disgust, name it. Surprisingly if you asked the ones who reacted thus, they are not likely to be knowing the contents of the bill but were forming their judgement from their own sentimental hatred for anything that opens the eyes of their children to reality. Why does my Africa perceive sex a forbidden subject of indulgence and yet they engage in this activity more than any other continent?
What wrong would it be if the girls can freely and openly access contraception so that they guard self against unwanted pregnancies? WE HAVE THE BRAINS, WHEN SHALL WE USE THEM? Do you know that the boy just like the girl enjoyed sex and the girl conceived? Why should the girl pay a higher price? My opinion is that if we are not ready to prevent the pregnancies through contraception and a girl conceives, let the boy also quit school and nurse the girl till she is ready to resume school that he may also resume. If we don't do so, we shall continue electing Members of Parliament and Women members of parliament representing the same constituents and we shall continue putting our brains to rest as we grapple with a big government and slim service delivery.
The other option of having the girls stay in school even with pregnancy may not be the best because you know the prejudice they face if they stayed in the same class with your bad mannered brats.
Legalizing abortion. Let me swallow a pill before I can continue.
Whenever I have raised the point of legalizing abortion. I have faced the most demeaning looks from all sections of people across the political, religious and social divide. All Ugandans believe without doubt that abortion is the worst sin anyone can commit on earth. Many evoke my emotions by asking what would happen if I was aborted and my answer is always the same; do you think I enjoy being in the world?
But surely, why does an adulterous person who is eloping with another man's wife think that God will forgive him? Why does a thief who swindled billions meant for the poor think that his sin is not as big as murder? Why do you lie in the morning and think that you will correct one who makes an abortion? What is the measure for hell fire and sin before God? What does God say about man and sin? “All have sinned and fallen short of God's glory”. What became of this Bible verse? Am speaking Bible because I don't know much about the Holy Quran.
I remember one time when the EALA Member of Parliament Hon Mukasa Mbidde, while sharing his opinion on legalisation of abortion, reminded us that when expounding on laws people should not cite the bible and its 10 commandments because they only work in heaven.
“Before we reach heaven, we must take care of what happens here on earth. Sometimes death is necessary for provision of life. Why should one deliver a child of bad memory especially in cases of defilement and rape?”
In all this I have not made my point but we all know what wreck unwanted pregnancies are causing and worse still the illegal abortions being carried out. According to Daily Monitor of February 16th this year the Ministry of Health says 292,000 abortions are carried out annually in the country translating into 800 per day with more than a half of them procured using crude methods.
Now we have a choice; to either have female emancipation and achieve equality on paper or have female emancipation and achieve gender equality in reality. I know that in doing so we shall painfully need to put aside our beliefs, teachings and prejudices but unless we do that, the future shall only be like the present. Uganda loses so many brains in girls who drop out because they cannot manage Menstrual periods, conceive before school completion or are married off for profit.
As long as we are still holding onto the beliefs of the other generation which held the women folk back, we shall talk and talk and talk but like the weaverbirds, when the dark of the night falls, we shall be embalmed and put into that wooden casing. When we reach heaven we shall reel and sob when we realise that even God wanted us equal because he created all of us in His image but we did whatever was in our power to maintain and sustain inequality.
For me I will be somewhere working for my Lord.