Uganda will on 14th May 2021 join the global fraternity to commemorate the International Day of the Family at Fairway Hotel in Kampala.
The United Nations, through its Resolution 47/237 on September 20, 1993 proclaimed the year 1994 the International Year of the Family. May 15th was since dedicated as an annual observance of the importance of the family worldwide. Uganda has commemorated this day since the year 2000.
According to Hon. Peace Mutuuzo the Minister of State for Gender and Culture Affairs, this year’s theme is “COVID-19 Pandemic and the Family in Uganda: Challenges, Opportunities and Lessons Learnt”.
“During the commemoration of the day, we shall hold a dialogue to discuss the opportunities presented by COVID 19 to the family, and reflect on the lessons learnt from this situation and agree on mechanisms to address these challenges” the minister says.
She noted that COVID -19 Pandemic has affected the family institution severely ushering in new dynamics in the family setting as seen, adding that with all school going children sent back home during the lockdown, parents were required to embrace virtual learning which was new phenomena and a challenge to most families especially the uneducated parents and those in rural communities who could not access technology.
Mutoozo says that with the economy coming to a total stand still, many family bread winners lost their jobs and the effect was mostly felt by children of low-income households who are especially sensitive to social shocks. For school children, institution closures and learning interruptions threatened their cognitive development.
“I am happy however to report that there were key opportunities registered during the lock down which included; More time for the family members to interact and bond; Created more time to reflect and reconsider one’s life style, promoted innovations especially in the uptake of Information, communication and technology and Expanding economic investments” Hon Mutuuzo said.
However, the minister was quick to add that there were challenges faced at the family level. The Police report 2020, indicates that although there was an 8.9 percent decline in the volume of crimes reported, defilement still stands out among the prevalent crimes with a total of 13,682 children being defiled, the majority of whom were the girl child.
“It is however most unfortunate and of concern to the Government that some of these crimes were perpetuated by close family members including fathers, uncles and aunties among others” she noted.
Another challenge is that the health system was overwhelmed by cases of COVID 19 and the over concentration on the pandemic did not help the management of other illnesses at family level. This resulted in many family members falling sick and losing their lives in situations that could have been avoided especially in cases of non-communicable diseases.
The country also saw a marked increase in cases of mental health in children and women (WHO 2020). This left many families without the bread earners and therefore requires Government to strengthen existing strategies to improve household incomes.
“I call upon family members to take advantage of the existing Government programmes like Uganda Women entrepreneurship programme, Youth Livelihood Programme, Social Assistance Grant for Empowerment, Operation Wealth Creation, and the Disability Grant among others to access capital and agricultural inputs to bring alive or rebuild the family livelihoods” she added.