Deputy speaker ThomasTayebwa launches legislative agenda for children

The Deputy Speaker of Parliament has launched the legislative agenda for children—also raising critical issues concerning children with special needs.

The much needed legislative blueprint for children was developed and presented by Members of Parliament on the Uganda Parliamentary Forum for Children (UPFC).

The forum which was started in the 7th Parliament is an avenue through which the status of Ugandan children, especially those in difficult circumstances could be addressed. It is a platform where MPs from different political parties lobby for the rights of children in situations of competing needs and priorities where children’s rights are often neglected.

Tayebwa said the legislative agenda would help Parliament as an institution to pass laws that safeguard children against emerging threats including homosexuality and sexual harassment.

“Most of the children face sexual and physical violence and as a country, we are not doing very well. We are ranked number 16 out of the 25 countries which are doing badly on child labour rights. We can’t be proud of that. We must look for a way of addressing that, ” he said.

“I’m glad this forum is bringing out all these issues, ” the Deputy Speaker added.

Quoting a national survey on violence against children done in 2020, Tayebwa said every 3 in 4 young adults, reported having experienced at least four forms of violence including sexual or physical harassment during childhood.

Tayebwa also urged UPFC to work with the government to ensure that children are protected from homosexuality and other forms of anti African behaviors.

“We need to protect our children. This is the biggest burden that we do have now. We have evils that have invaded our schools and every institution. Why is someone going to school, teaching our children that it’s okay for a man to kiss a man or sleep with a man. Some people are trying to change our social order, ” he said.

‘The problem we have is that many parents are fearing to talk about it because they feel their children will be disenfranchised, “he said, asking the children’s forum to look into this issue.

Youth and Children Affairs junior minister Sarah Nyirabashitsi Mateke said the government of Uganda acknowledges that there’s an urgent need to initiate and promote legislation that fosters a holistic development of all the children.

“We recognize the need to harness the full potential of every child as a key strategy for economic transformation, she added, lauding UPFC for providing technical oversight in the development of the agenda.

“I commended Uganda Parliamentary Forum for Children for its commitment and the deliberate efforts to monitor the national legislative and policy environment,” she said.

The minister also said the agenda would help to address a number of gaps in the country’s laws concerning children.

She urged all MPs to support improving children’s wellbeing in Uganda through legislation and policy reforms.

Margaret Makhoha, the Chairperson Uganda Parliamentary Forum for Children said the Agenda Identifies gaps where the legislation does not protect internationally recognized rights and principles to guide required legislative and policy reforms.

“Most of these laws are scattered that, may be exploited to deny children their rights, or do not address the current context and emerging challenges, such as the post-pandemic environment, thus a need for the Forum to assess continuously assess their relevance and address existing legislative gaps.

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