First Lady and Education Minister Janet Museveni poses for a photo with cultural leaders and other stakeholders during celebrations to mark International Day of the girl Child in Jinja

STOP MARRYING OFF YOUNG GIRLS TO OLD MEN-SAYS JANET MUSEVENI 29/11/2018

First Lady and Minister of Education and Sports Janet Museveni has called for the economic empowerment of young girls if child marriages are to end.

She was speaking at a consultative meeting for religious leaders, cultural leaders in commemoration of the International Day of the Girl Child. The meeting held on Tuesday at the Presidential State Lodge in Jinja was organized by the Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development in partnership with Office of the African First Ladies Against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA Uganda) and with support from UNICEF. It was also attended by the Gender Labour and Social Development Ministers Hajat Janat Mukwaya and Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi, UNDP Resident Coordinator Rosa Malango, MPS and District Leaders from Jinja, students and other stakeholders.

Mrs. Museveni called upon Parents to invest in their children especially the girl child by prioritizing their education and cautioned them against selling off young girls in marriage to old men.  “Our girls shouldn’t continue to cry out for understanding from their parents because you are literally selling them off to be married to men sometimes as old 60”, she said.

She said “We know what it takes to live a decent life, we want our children to live a decent life and we want them to be happy in bringing up their own children.”

Mrs. Museveni told stakeholders that it doesn’t matter whether they are cultural, religious and government leaders, they have a role to play to open the eyes of societies or communities and to remind parents that what they do is not acceptable in life and for these communities.

“Tell your people to get sometime and talk to the their children about what is important in life to finish their education and get a job before they start thinking about getting married”, Mrs Museveni said.

The First Lady pointed out that these parents who sell off their children can enjoy the benefits for only six months but end up causing suffering to the young girls for the rest of their life. “How can you see and let such things happen in places where you are leaders” she asked the stakeholders.

She urged leaders to stand up and speak to both men and women in various communities to change and in doing so, they will be fighting the evil in their society.

“If you cannot take care of your children, then you are not a father in the house, we cannot wait for NGOs or UN anymore to take care of them, we have to stand up and fullfil our responsibilities as parents and leaders”, she said.

Mrs. Museveni wondered why many children go without food yet God blessed Uganda with such fertile soils and more than sufficient rain.

The various stakeholders who included religious leaders, cultural leaders, Busoga Kingdom Ministers and government leaders all committed themselves to protect the rights of the adolescent girls

Bishop Joshua Lwere, the General Overseer of the National Fellowship of Born- Again Pentecostal Churches of Uganda (NFBPC), while representing stakeholders in the breakfast meeting requested for more resources to be put in religious and cultural institutions and for more training to enable them fight early marriages in the country.

He added that in their dialogue, they as stakeholders agreed to sensitize communities about the existing laws that prohibit early child marriages, promote women as role models, embrace the progressive beliefs in culture and campaign against marriage of the girl child.

“Parenting is a key role and as religious leaders, we shall put more emphasis on that in order to change those negative minds,” Lwere said adding that recreation centres for girls and boys need to be established.

Pius Bigirimana, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development called for enforcement of the laws against Early Child marriages.

“We need to crack the whip to make sure that these laws/ regulations that are in place are enforced in order to curb early child marriages,” Bigirimana said.

Vincent Ochaya Orach the Prime Minister of Alur Kingdom read a Statement of commitment by cultural leaders on Ending Child Marriages.

The First Lady later presided over the attendance to mark the International Day of the Girl Child at Kagoma Primary School in Jinja.

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