Our last event of the seminar was listening to Judge David Batema speak about gender issues in Uganda. In Uganda, women are still seen as second-class citizens. One of the most important points that he made in relation to sustainable development, is that women have a great deal of economic potential, but because it remains untapped because they lack equal treatment in society. An interesting example that he used was that during a divorce, the man will often want all of the tangible items because he has a paying job. However, these men do not factor in the value of the woman at home. She cooks, cleans, and provides childcare all without pay. He also taught us about how women are kept down because the law in Uganda is written by men and for men.
Judge Batema enlightened our class on a variety of serious issues that women in Uganda face, such as: marital rape, inability to own property, and female genital mutilation. Many people stepped out during the short UNICEF film showing the FGM of a 6 year old girl, and those who stayed could barely watch. I'd say this was a very powerful and shocking moment, especially for those who were unaware that this practice exists. One of the reasons that women in Uganda do not always exercise the rights given to them by the Constitution, is because societal pressures and norms interfere. Women's rights are not always seen as valid, and a number of barriers still exist for women trying to gain equal access to the legal system. Judge Batema works to raise awareness about the need for gender equality and implement trainings for other judges so that they too may be sensitive to this issue. It was a very powerful day that shows both Ugandan and American students that there is still much progress to be made for gender equality.
Where should the line be drawn between respecting cultural practices and values and ensuring people's basic human rights?
How does the issue of gender equality relate to the pillars of social and economic sustainable development?