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PSFU and UNDP supporting campaigns to end violence against Women at workplaces.

Violence against women in the workplace continues to affect productivity across Uganda. In a bid to address this challenge and to encourage equity and safety for women in the workforce, the Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU) in partnership with UNDP is supporting campaigns among its members to eliminate violence against women at the workplace. As Julius Bukyana reports, Nice House of Plastics Ltd has been supported by PSFU to implement these activities under the joint EU-UN Spotlight Initiative to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls.

The mid-year Uganda Police Crime Report of January – June 2020 showed that on average, a total of 2,707 cases of sexual and gender-based violence were reported to police monthly in the reporting period.

In March 2020, government imposed a nationwide lockdown in efforts to curtail the spread of Covid – 19.

As cases of COVID-19 increased globally; the emotional, physical and mental toll on Ugandans also grew.

As a result, survivors of Gender Based Violence (GBV) found themselves trapped in homes with their abusers.

In response to this situation, Nice House of Plastics working with a grant from the Private Sector Foundation Uganda under the Spotlight initiative embarked on a campaign titled ‘Her Voice’ that aimed to curb violence against women both in the confines of factories and in the factory residential area. 

Nice House of plastics employs 241 permanent staff at its factory in Bugoloobi, Kampala. Bridget Nalugwa the Human Resource Manager says the campaign targeted creating a violence free workplace for all genders.

Six months of intense training saw immerse behavioral changes at the factory. It triggered the management to draft a Gender Responsive policy and put in place mechanisms to prevent, detect and respond to GBV in the Company such as; zero-tolerance to sexual violence, suggestion boxes for reporting GBV occurrences; trained staff in all departments on how to prevent, report and respond to GBV; developed posters, leaflets, banners and booklets with GBV messages.

But, what is the impact of the voice campaign to the staff of nice house of plastics? Ruth Zalwango a gender based violence champion and a staff of Nice House of Plastics says she feels protected by the company’s gender policy that has made work space secure and made her more efficient.

At the community hall in Kiswa parish zone 7 in Nakawa the factory vicinity where the Her voice campaign was implemented, local women leaders testified that the high rate of violence against women had been due to financial constraints in families,

The Women noted the plastic chair project that was handed over to the community leadership from Nice House of plastics to enhance women in the zone financially has greatly aided in economic empowerment of women as the chairs are hired out at a moderate fee, and savings deposited on the group account. 

Women make majority numbers in the private sector workforce and hence the need for the Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU) to promote a GBV free work space. Francis Kisirinya the Deputy Executive Director at the PSFU says in promoting equality at the work place, the spotlight initiative aims at ensuring gender-based violence is prevented, detected and responded to.

The Private sector role in eliminating Gender Based Violence is at both strategic and operational levels. We work with other global, regional and national actors to speak against GBV and call for equal and fair treatment for both males and females 

As the apex body private sector entities in Uganda, PSFU has been at the helm of promoting gender equality and empowering women through collective influencing and supporting efforts of individual private sector companies, members in tackling GBV. The private sector recognizes that to achieve the sustainable Development Goals, specifically SDG 5 on promoting gender equality, economic empowerment for women is a critical strategy through addressing GBV in homes, at the work place and in the communities. 

Through partnerships with UNDP and the European Union, the private sector is part of campaigns against GBV such as the Spotlight Initiative to Eliminate Violence against Women and Girls in Uganda.

Despite some success, a lot more work remains to be done to ensure a violence-free country for Ugandan women.

Under the Innovation Challenge Award, 4 companies Nice House of Plastics, Uganda Chamber of Mines and Petroleum, Medical Conceirge Group and Crested Capital were awarded grants to implement and scale-up innovations/initiatives that are effective in preventing or responding to GBV and VAW/VAC in the workplace. 

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