Despite the government and CSOs efforts and commitments on promoting health, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) continue to be among the most controversial and contentious topics in Uganda’s legal, policy, and social environments. This is attributed to a number of competing approaches in religious, cultural, legal and policy debates. A wide range of SRHR issues such as family planning, sexuality education, adolescent health, teenage pregnancies, unsafe abortion, maternal mortality and morbidity, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) including HIV, gender-based violence, sexual abuse and among others, continue to constitute serious public health, human rights and social equity issues that affect millions of women and girls including sex workers in their diversity who are most marginalized. Many sex workers face barriers to reproductive health information and care. Even those able to find accurate information about their health and rights may be unable to access the services needed to make informed decisions and protect their health.
With support from Joint Advocacy for Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (JAS) Programme, UNESO hosted partners, allies and member organizations to a dissemination meeting and official launch of the “Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) Experiences Of Sex Workers” documentary in Kampala at Golf Course Hotel.
The documentary featured the day to day living reality experiences, gaps and practical recommendations to SRHR issues faced by sex workers in the country. The meeting also aimed at sharing/disseminating the SRHR experiences (opportunities, Challenges, possible interventions and lessons learned) of sex workers for ensuring evidenced SRHR advocacy in Uganda.
The day kicked off with Ms Daisy Nakato -UNESO national coordinator giving welcoming remarks were she thanked everyone for coming to attended the launch and mentioned that it’s really a commitment and passion for one to accept and honor any gathering because of the fear to contract COVID 19
infection since Uganda was experiencing the 2nd wave of COVID 19 and urged everyone to continue observing the SOPs during the meeting.
As one of the UNESO founding member, Mr Kanyike Morgan – executive Director Youth on rock foundation gave the official opening remarks were he thanked UNESO for organizing the meeting and most importantly for being thoughtful to film the SRHR documentary to show case the experiences of sex workers in accessing SRHR and services to which he referred as an important advocacy tool. He also mentioned that UNESO is well positioned and so is optimistic to attaining high levels in advocating for the human rights of sex workers. He concluded by calling upon and recommending all participants to join efforts in advocating for SRHR for sex workers and Presentation about JAS program and objectives of the activity.
Mujuni Naomi,Programs manager UNESO, gave a brief over view of the JAS program, and how UNESO contributes to the realisation of the broader goal of JAS program which is building a strong social movement challenges deep structures that hinders realisation of SRHR in Uganda.
Mr. Waswa Paul- CEHURD – the gust of honor of the day pledged on behalf of CEHURD to continue supporting UNESO in the struggle to the realization of SRHR in Uganda and promised to share the launched documentary widely. He further talked about the documentary as an important tool and resource that talks about the day-to-day experiences of sex workers in exercising their rights to access SRHR services. He mentioned that the documentary tackles the pertinent issues that affects sex workers say it unsafe abortion, limited access to STI drugs, and among others not forgetting the COVID 19 effects which has caused a major challenge to way sex workers should be enjoying their rights. He recommended UNESO to continue empowering sex workers to demand of their own rights as it’s a corner stone to realising SRHR for sex workers.
A panel was later a lined with Richard Lusimbo -UKPC as the panel moderator and the discussants included Namirember Mary -MARPI, Batte Shamilah, OGERA, Karungi Beyonce TEU with diverse expertise in working with sex workers and promoting SRHR. The main points for discussion where about how to improve SRHR among sex workers during the lock-down due to COVID 19, what strategies are in place that can be replicated to promote SRHR and sharing the lessons learned from the SRHR documentary.
Official closing remarks from the MOH. Dr shaban Mugerwa-MOH – medical senior officer (ACP). He started by conveying greetings from MOH, and congratulated UNESO and KP fraternity for having invited MOH to celebrate this wonderful achievement. He mentioned that there are many documentaries but after keenly viewing this, he is very convinced that it is one of the best he has ever seen because of the content and quality which is top notch. He mentioned that having an SRHR documentary for sex workers experiences was well thought out and, in that regard, he requested UNESO to prepare and plan to have the documentary disseminated in MOH working group committees as he pledged to get a slot for UNESO in those committees. He informed that the MOH works with evidenced information and so this documentary is very informative, talking to the realities that are happening and therefore he informed that he is thrilled that this reality shall influence policing and programming at the MOH. He talked about COVID 19 and the undergoing COVID 19 vaccination so recommended participants to mobilise their communities to uptake the vaccination services as it is an ultimate measure to prevent COVID 19 but also recommended participants to continue
observing the SOPs
The documentary was launched by chief guest; Mr Paul Wasswa (CEHURD Representative),Shamillah Batte (UNESO’s Board Chair), Dr Shaban (Ministry Of Health Representative) and Mr Richard Lusimbo (National Coordinator, UKPC).
Below is the Documentary link.