Sexual harassment in the workplace is varied and prevalent in Uganda and there must be stronger commitment to address this illicit act. For far too long, women have been subject to gender-based discrimination and violence in the workplace. The recent allegations of sexual harassment being reported in various media platforms underpin a much larger issue that is pervasive on our streets, homes, communities, offices and other work places.
Women deserve equal participation in the world of work, free from violence, harassment and any form of discrimination. Unfortunately, safe work places are not the reality for many women in Uganda.
Sexual harassment against women is rooted in power dynamics, gender stereotypes, norms and attitudes that belittle women’s bodies, potential and choices. Hence, engaging men and boys in the drive towards a violence-free world is important in transforming the gender norms and power inequalities that contribute to men’s behaviours and actions that render women vulnerable. Much has already been achieved in effectively engaging men in violence prevention and there are a number of promising practices.
However, programmes tend to be small-scale and fast-tracking violence prevention among men will require well-coordinated stronger commitments to ensure that employers and work places have adopted and implemented sexual harassment policies that are consistent with the national standards and Sustainable Development Goal 5 and 8.
MENENGAGE UGANDA urges all men to support women who are speaking out and reclaiming their voice and power. Silence is not an option anymore, particularly when up to 22% of women aged 15 to 49 have experienced some form of sexual violence. As we launch our ONLINE CAMPAIGN ON END SEXUAL HARASSMENT, #RespectMyBody, we call upon everyone to contribute towards safe work places through enforcing sexual harassment policies, educating the community, holding perpetrators accountable and providing a strong support network for victims. Businesses, groups and companies should invest in teaching employees about sexual harassment – with clear processes on how to handle complaints. We must stop victim blaming. Violence should not be condoned.
In 2020 and beyond, let’s pick up the momentum to demand and create a society that is safe, peaceful and prosperous for everyone through questioning men’s stereotypes, perceptions and attitudes towards women’s bodies.
For enquiries and media interviews please contact:
Hassan Sekajoolo, National coordinator, MenEngage Uganda: +256-703-983-298 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Notes to editors:
MenEngage Uganda is a network of over 50 civil society organisations working to engage men and boys in reducing gender inequalities, preventing HIV, ending gender-based violence and promoting the health and well-being of women, girls, boys and men in Uganda. It forms part of 22 networks that affiliate to MenEngage Africa Alliance.