Source: New Vision
The high dropout rate among primary school going girls needs urgent intervention, women activist have demanded. The activists are also concerned about the soaring numbers of women who die daily in pregnancy-related complications in the country.

The activists raised the concerns in a meeting held in Kampala.

Recent government reports on education estimate that of the total number of pupils who enroll in primary one, only 30% complete primary seven, placing Uganda's dropout rates the worst in the region.

However, Dr. Hilda Tadria, the director of Mentoring and Empowering Program for Young Women said: "These figures should not fool us. Yes, only 30% complete primary seven. But of this 30%, majority are boys."

"I work in upcountry areas and I interact with lots of schools. "If you visit any school, the ratio of girls to boys in primary one is always higher. But you go to primary seven. You will only find about six to 11 girls. The rest are boys," added Tadria.

Tadria said this challenge of the high dropout rates in primary school going girls was fuelling another challenge of maternal mortality.

"Because these girls drop out and they are young they are vulnerable. They end up getting pregnant at 12, 13, and 14. Their pelvic bones are still week. And what do we have? Lots of women dying in pregnancy-related complications and others contracting that dreaded disease, fistula," noted.

In Uganda, approximately 16 women die in pregnancy-related complications daily.

Tadria said: "Unless we really focus on providing services to these girls so they can go back to school and stay there, we will have no women movement in the future."

The event was organized by the Uganda Women's Network under the theme: The status of gender equality in the social-economic and political Uganda today.

The purpose was to take into account the progress and challenges of the women movement in promoting women's rights and gender equality in the country.

Robina Rubimbwa, Centre for Women in Governance executive director, emotionally echoed that girls were dropping out of school because of things like 'lunch and sanitary pads' that could easily be provided.

Citing Bushenyi district, she said typical primary schools in the area have over 1000 pupils but hardly enough pit latrines for the pupils.

"In some schools, girls share latrines with boys," she said. "This becomes a problem to the girls when they reach their menstruation period."

She asked government "if they can build good classroom blocks, why is it hard for them to also put up enough latrines so girls can have their separate toilets and boys theirs?"

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