ARUA. Arua leaders have been challenged to put an end to high dropout rate, child pregnancy, and early marriage to rescue them from the danger of failing to produce future female leaders in the next ten years.

The women MP for Kapchorwa district Ms Rukiya Chekamono Kulany challenged the leaders at Aii-vu sub-county headquarters on Tuesday during a dialogue organized by the parliamentary forum on food security, population, and development.

According to Chekamono, Arua district is ranked highly in school dropout and early pregnancies and that the sub-counties selected for dialogue in Arua district are the most affected.

The sub-counties include Omugo, Bileafe, Katrini and Aii-vu.

“My people of Arua if we leave you at this pace in 10 years we may not have any leader who is a woman, let this team go and think for better Arua, all this information is on record, a child of 18 years is already having grandchildren where are we going,” Ms Chekamono wondered.

Participants in the dialogue comprising of cultural and religious leaders, teachers and headteachers identified numerous challenges coming both from government and the communities.

Mr Kemis Aliku, and elder attributed too much freedom granted to the citizens and observance of human rights for every act that prevents physical disciplinary action by parents and teachers.

“You beat a child, you are imprisoned, I also blame the elders for failing to perform their advisory role near fireplaces", Aliku said.

The elders also condemned the government over the distribution of condoms in schools which motivates them to start practicing sex early until they begin to practice unprotected sex that makes the girls become pregnant.

“We want the government to emphasize abstinence instead of protected sex, how can you teach how to play sex and distribute condoms to underage school children who learn by imitation to remain without practice what they learned”, one parent wondered.

Ms Harriet Driciru 19 09 19Ms Harriet Driciru, a parent speaks during the dialogue. PHOTO BY GEOFFREY ANGUPALE.

The locals identified other causes of early pregnancy and school dropout biting poverty which hinders parents to provide needs for the girl child, domestic violence, pornography, drug abuse, and night markets among others.

Others are child labour and rampant unemployment that makes the learners misjudge that education is valueless.

The MP for West Moyo county Mr Tom Alero Aza advised the participants in schools to employ school nurses or invite those from health units and matrons to regularly check the girls monthly and talk to them about the importance of being in school.

The MP of Lugazi Municipality Mr Isaac Mulindwa Ssozi said the problems identified do not require enacting new laws by the parliamentarians because the existing laws and bylaws are not being implemented.

“From your submission, you know the problems and we know the solutions, the issue is implementation, why are we lamenting and blaming the government, what have you done be an example, implementation starts from home with LCs from the villages up to the district council”, Mulindwa stated.

Dr Denis Bakomeza, UNFPA reproductive health program coordinator in West Nile condemned the claim by the cultural leaders that their culture is dead.
“We should recover our morality, let parents do their role to make a better society”, Bakomeza stated.

Terego West MP Mr Moses Angundru called the women to imitate their elderly mothers who used to manage ministration periods of their children well despite that sanitary pads were not available.

“Our parents were not educated but they managed to care for every need of their children like clothes, education and spiritual guidance, what is wrong now, let us change our attitudes”, Angundru lamented.

The MPs said they left parliamentary work to discuss with the stakeholders in the affected districts to tell the communities that Uganda belongs to women since a number of key leaders in the country are women.