Mainstreaming Cross-cutting Issues in GIZ Uganda: Gender, Disability Inclusion, HIV, Health and Wellbeing
Title: ‘Gestaltungsspielraum’ in development cooperation crosscutting issues (gender, HIV/AIDS, health, wellbeing, inclusion) in Ugan-da
Commissioned by: German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ)
Uganda was one of the first countries in sub-Saharan Africa to experience the devastating effects of HIV and AIDS. By the end of 2001, the country had experienced almost one million AIDS-related deaths. Today, improved treatment is making it possible for people to live with the infection, and HIV is no longer a death sentence. Nevertheless, more than 1.3 million people living with HIV in Uganda still often suffer from stigmatisation and social exclusion, and almost a quarter of them do not have access to treatment.
Uganda is, however, making progress in its fight against HIV: While the national HIV prevalence rate among sexually active people aged 15-49 had risen to 7.3 per cent between 2006 and 2010, it declined to 6 per cent in 2017. It is therefore important to continue supporting efforts in the fight against the epidemic to achieve Uganda’s goal to end AIDS by 2030, as it still poses a great challenge to sustainable development and social progress. An estimated 227 new infections occur every day, and some 50 of these are amongst girls aged 15-24. A quarter of girls below the age of 18 are either pregnant or already having a baby, indicating that HIV shouldn’t be dealt with in isolation, but needs to be viewed in a wider socio-cultural context that needs to include sexual and reproductive health and rights and gender issues disadvantaging women and girls.
Women in Uganda face a multitude of other obstacles, from restricted access to property and financial services, to gender-based violence. Over half of married women (aged 15-49) are reported to have experienced physical, sexual and/or emotional partner violence. A recent study conducted in Uganda found that half of all women agreed that wife beating is justified in certain circumstances. Also, more than 90 per cent of Ugandans are in favour of laws restricting the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people.
Also marginalised are people living with disabilities. More than 16 per cent of Uganda’s population has a disability and, as in most developing countries in the world, these people face extreme poverty, with limited opportunities to access education, health, suitable housing and employment.
The German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) operates a policy of mainstreaming gender and HIV throughout all activities conducted by German development cooperations, including the Deutsche Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. To implement the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, BMZ has published the "Disability Inclusion Action Plan (2013)".
Susceptibility and vulnerability to HIV is reduced among our target groups, GIZ’s employees and partner organisations, and in Uganda GIZ continues to implement GIZ’s Gender Strategy.
Mainstreaming is viewed as an organisational development process through which institutions can pursue effective and sustainable solutions, both in the work they do and their own workplaces. GIZ’s mainstreaming activities are twofold: internal and external. The first is aimed at GIZ’s own staff and that of partner organisations, with a workplace programme involving HIV prevention measures, such as health and wellbeing-related activities, as well as sensitisation to gender and disability issues. In contrast, external mainstreaming integrates measures within GIZ’s own projects and programmes to address the impacts of the HIV epidemic and unequal gender power relations. This mitigates any HIV-related threats and ensures that men and women benefit equally from GIZ’s interventions. Furthermore, it also ensures that GIZ does not inadvertently contribute to the spread of HIV or gender inequalities through our work.
In Uganda GIZ’ policy on HIV, health and wellbeing is a highly successful example of internal HIV and gender mainstreaming. Rolled out in 2014, the policy comprises a caring and supportive scheme that provides for the health and wellbeing needs of all GIZ staff. Developed in consultation with the GIZ National Staff Council, the workplace programme also includes workplace talks for GIZ and partner organisation staff and their families (now considered a Best Practice) and training for peer educators. Furthermore, it supplies a variety of condoms as well as information, education and communication materials on HIV/reproductive health and gender-related topics. As part of internal gender mainstreaming, GIZ Uganda developed its own sexual harassment policy and trained its staff in implementation. A ‘Knowledge, Attitudes, Practices and Behaviour Study’ conducted in 2016 found that almost 90 per cent of GIZ Uganda staff consider the Workplace Programme useful, 70 per cent claimed to have learned something new through the Programme and 78 per cent have undergone positive behaviour change as a result.
Gender, disability inclusion and HIV mainstreaming have become an established part of work life in Uganda, with surveys confirming increased knowledge of the pertinent issues among GIZ staff and the integration of related activities across all GIZ Uganda’s programmes.