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Native American WomenThe 2017 film, Wind River, based on actual events, riveted the public with its reported death rate of Native American women on American reservations. Writer-producer Taylor Sheridan aimed to raise awareness of the overlooked death rate and has succesfully done so since.

Violence Against Indigenous Women

Where poverty is the greatest, indigenous women experience domestic violence rates 10 times higher than the national average for all races. In addition, 84% of Native American women experience violence in their lifetimes or one in three each year. The perpetrators are most often non-Native men outside the jurisdiction of tribal law enforcement.

Murdered indigenous women numbers rose to 500 in 2018, which is a low figure compared to the actual number of missing persons on reservations. Women have silently died and gone missing, underreported, for years. This is due to the discordance that exists between tribal, federal and local law enforcement. However, changes are being made ever since the 1978 ruling of Oliphant v. Suquamish, where it was ruled that Indian courts have no criminal jurisdiction over non-natives. In November of 2019, President Trump signed an executive order to investigate the matter of unsolved cases of missing or murdered Native Americans.

Legislatively Addressing the Issue

Several major changes have since been underway. For example, the Not Invisible Act of 2020 will increase national focus on violent crime against indigenous people and intergovernmental coordination on the high death rate of Native American women. This bill began in 2019 as the Not Invisible Act of 2019; the first bipartisan bill in history to be introduced by four tribal representatives: Deb Haaland, Tom Cole, Sharice Davids and Markwayne Mullin.

To complement the Not Invisible Act, Savanna’s Act became public law in October 2020. Named after Savanna LaFontaine-Greywind, a murdered young indigenous woman whose fetus was cut from her womb, Savanna’s Act will ensure the Justice Department reports statistics on all missing/murdered native women and reform law enforcement. In addition, the National Institute of Justice has created the National Baseline Study which is a study on the health, wellbeing and safety of Native American women, to also provide more accurate data on femicide.

Safe Women, Strong Nations

In addition, the Safe Women, Strong Nations project partners with native nations to combat abductions and murder. The project provides legal advice to the tribes in restoring authority and holding perpetrators responsible. The project works to raise awareness to gain federal action to eliminate the violence against native women.

Poverty makes it easier for native women to be overlooked. One in three Native Americans suffer from poverty, living off on average $23,000 a year. “Poverty is both the cause and the consequence of all the ills visited upon Native Americans.” It is common knowledge that poverty provides leeway for criminality, and with Native American reservations being economically disadvantaged, this is no exception. Addressing systemic poverty instead of turning a blind eye will help lower the death rate of native women. The reservations only need opportunity and U.S.  juridical attention. It is hopeful to see that the United States’ legislative representatives are addressing violence against minority groups but more work needs to be done to protect the well-being of Native American women.

– Shelby Gruber
Photo: Flickr

Female Genital Mutilation in SudanAlthough six African states issued legislation to prohibit female genital mutilation, the north African state of Sudan was lagging behind in these efforts. Female genital mutilation ( FGM) was illegal in some Sudanese states but the bans were widely ignored. Under the leadership of Omar al-Bashir, parliament rejected recommendations to ban the practice.

Female Genital Mutilation

FGM is defined as procedures that deliberately alter or cause injury to female genital organs. It is mostly carried out on young girls between infancy and adolescence and occasionally performed on adult women. These procedures are nonmedical and provide no health benefits, only harm to the female. It involves removing and damaging healthy and normal female genital tissue, therefore, it interferes with the natural functions of the female body.

The reasons behind FGM vary between regions due to a mix of sociocultural factors. The procedure is routinely executed by a midwife without anesthesia. There are four types of FGM. Type one is the partial or total removal of the clitoris. Type two is the removal of the clitoris and inner labia. Type three is the removal of all the external genitalia or narrowing of the vaginal opening. Type four is any other type of damage to the female genitalia, such as burning, scraping or piercing.

Females experience either short-term or long-term effects. The short-term effects include severe pain, excessive bleeding (hemorrhage), genital tissue swelling, fever, infections, wound healing issues. The more dangerous and life-altering long-term effects include urinary problems, menstrual problems, increased risk of childbirth complications, the need for later surgeries or psychological problems.

According to UNICEF, 87% of Sudanese women aged between 14 and 49 have undergone a form of FGM. FGM is also more prevalent among the poorest women.

Actions to End Female Genital Mutilation

In 2008, the National Council of Child Welfare and UNICEF joined together to launch the Saleema Initiative, which focused on abandoning FGM at a community level.  The initiative educated women about the health risks and encouraged females to say no to the procedure.

Additionally, the United Nations General Assembly took action in 2012 by calling on the international community to enhance efforts to end FGM. In 2015, the global community agreed to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which include a target under Goal 5 to eliminate all harmful practices, such as child marriage and female genital mutilation by 2030.

The World Health Organization (WHO) is addressing the issue by implementing guidelines, tools, training and policy to allow healthcare providers the opportunity to offer medical care and counseling to females suffering the effects of FGM.  The WHO also aims at generating knowledge to encourage the abandonment of the FGM procedures. One final measure by the WHO is increased advocacy through publications and tools for policymakers.

Criminalizing Female Genital Mutilation in Sudan

In May 2020, the Sudanese Government criminalized FGM and made it punishable by up to three years in prison. But, experts remain concerned that a law is not sufficient in ending the practice due to religious and cultural ties to the procedure.

The sociocultural and religious ties surrounding female genital mutilation in Sudan complicate attempts to end the practice. Criminalizing FGM in Sudan may not be enough to end the practice. The National Council of Child Welfare, UNICEF, the United Nations General Assembly and the WHO are taking major steps to eliminate FGM or assist those already affected by the practice.

– Rachel Durling
Photo: Flickr

Human Trafficking in Hong KongHuman trafficking is a persistent problem all around the world, including in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region located in the People’s Republic of China. The Justice Centre Hong Kong produced a study in 2016 on human trafficking in Hong Kong and it was found that one in six of the 370,000 migrant workers in the city were forced labor victims. While Hong Kong does take steps to eradicate human trafficking, it is important to study human trafficking in every region of the world so that it can be prevented in the future.

Recent Changes and Legislation

Lawmakers in Hong Kong proposed that the government pass an anti-slavery bill based on Great Britain’s “Modern Slavery Act.” However, two of those lawmakers, Dennis Kwok and Kenneth Leung, were removed from Parliament, leaving many questioning whether the bill would ever get passed. A member of The Mekong Club, a group in Hong Kong dedicated to fighting modern slavery said, “There is little chance that this important bill will move forward.” This, in conjunction with the current protests in Hong Kong likely means that lawmakers have had little time to focus on anti-human trafficking legislation.

Another recent development on human trafficking in the nation is that in mid-2020 the U.S. demoted Hong Kong from Tier 2 on the Trafficking in Persons Report to Tier 2 Watch List, suggesting that Hong Kong “does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking.” The government of Hong Kong disputed the U.S. human trafficking report’s claims, arguing that the report was not based on evidence and looks at minor flaws rather than the big picture.

Hong Kong’s Approach to Resolving Human Trafficking

One problem with the nation’s current anti-human trafficking legislation is that the city only defines human trafficking as “involving cross-border sex trafficking for prostitution,” which means the legislation does not cover “labor exploitation, debt bondage, domestic servitude or similar practices.” Unfortunately, the legal system can make it difficult for those who are trafficked in Hong Kong to get the help they need or support from legal authorities.

While anti-human trafficking laws could be amended, lawmakers and academics have shown there are creative solutions to the problem. Reed Smooth Richards Butler, a law firm, worked with Liberty Asia, an anti-slavery charity, to create the Legal Gap Analysis report, which explains how other laws can be used to persecute human traffickers. For example, individuals responsible could be arrested for false imprisonment rather than human trafficking directly. Creative efforts like these are important to find solutions to salient issues, including the trafficking of people.

Protecting Human Rights

While the government can certainly improve its response to human trafficking in Hong Kong, the country has implemented many measures to help reduce human trafficking and protect human rights. Human trafficking needs addressing and analyzing the nuances in human trafficking policy can help incapacitate the industry globally.

Madelynn Einhorn
Photo: Flickr

women’s rights in UzbekistanA former Soviet Union territory, Uzbekistan has a population of 30 million. In recent years, there have been governmental and societal changes along with a new president, Shavkat Mirziyoyev. Women, who play a pivotal role in the Uzbek family structure, have experienced different issues related to their rights in the country. There are several key facts to know about women’s rights in Uzbekistan.

Societal Views Oppress Women

Women faced new setbacks after Uzbekistan obtained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991. The Soviets, who colonized the region in the latter half of the 19th century, promised women that they would be emancipated from the patriarchal customs of society, viewing them as oppressive against women. This movement encouraged female education, and in the 1980s, an estimated 41% of university students were women. However, after the independence of Uzbekistan in 1991, in a push to reestablish the Uzbek tradition, the progress of women’s rights in Uzbekistan took a hit when conservative social customs were reintroduced. Only six years later, in 1997, the number of women in higher education institutions dropped to 37% and it is estimated to have fallen even more drastically in recent years.

The Prevalence of Child Marriage

Child marriage is still prevalent. Most Uzbek families believe that the role of women is to marry and run the household. This social concept encourages child marriage throughout the country, particularly in rural regions. With girls marrying at younger ages than boys, female education is directly impacted by child marriage, as women are generally confined to the home after marriage. Furthermore, it is expected that women are to give birth within their first year of marriage, despite a lack of education about reproduction and childbearing. With young brides, female bodies are often not prepared or mature enough to give birth healthily. This has led to health complications such as infertility and chronic conditions. Women’s rights in Uzbekistan are hindered by child marriage, as it limits female educational opportunities and leaves women with little chance to escape a life of housework and childrearing.

Domestic Violence is Not a Crime

Domestic violence is deemed a family issue and not an actual crime. Since independence from the Soviet Union, the push to reaffirm traditional values has meant that women have a subservient role within the household, and to a further extent, within society. Outside of their homes, women face restrictions on how to live their lives, with limits on educational and work opportunities in favor of marriages and children. With women in rural areas at particular risk for domestic violence, Uzbekistan has largely ignored women’s rights within the home. Violence against women has reportedly increased in recent years.

Women’s Rights Reform at Governmental Level

President Mirziyoyev has taken promising action to address the lack of women’s rights in Uzbekistan. Elected in 2016, Mirziyoyev spoke about the importance of women within Uzbek society, noting their problem-solving skills and administrative capabilities. He urged for their involvement in government and industrial factions and even appointed Uzbekistan’s first female Head of Senate, Tanyila Narbaeva. With men dominating government positions for years, a female in an authoritative government position was a progressive shift and a promising result of political changes.

Legislation to Protect Women

The fight for women’s rights in Uzbekistan is becoming more of a priority. In 2019, two new laws were introduced to protect women’s rights. The first is to ensure equal opportunities and freedoms for men and women and the second is to safeguard women from domestic violence and assault. Also, almost 200 shelters have been set up across the country to provide for women escaping violence. Unfortunately, there is very little funding for the subsistence of these shelters. While this is undoubtedly progress from the country’s more traditional views on the role of women in society, more significant action needs to be taken to defend these newfound rights and sustain protective services.

The Future of Women’s Rights in Uzbekistan

The push for women’s rights in Uzbekistan has been made more difficult by the country’s history as a Soviet Union colony and their subsequent counterreaction to reestablish their traditional cultural values. In recent years, women have been restricted by societal pressures to marry young and spend their lives taking care of the household. With limited opportunity to decide their own futures, women in Uzbekistan have not truly attained their human rights. Fortunately, however, President Mirziyoyev has expressed his desire to transform women’s rights in Uzbekistan. Hopefully, with a new female government official and progressive laws, women’s rights in Uzbekistan will continue to improve.

– Eliza Cochran
Photo: Flickr

Women's Rights in UgandaWomen’s rights in Uganda are notoriously spotty. Ugandan women experience high rates of physical and sexual abuse, at 56% and 22% respectively. Additionally, child marriage is common and 40% of Ugandan girls marry before they turn 18. As a result, many girls never complete their education or gain the necessary job skills to help them provide for themselves and their families. The lack of opportunities for women to thrive economically only perpetuates poverty in the region.

The Gender Gap and Poverty

Uganda currently ranks 65th out of 153 countries on the Global Gender Gap Index for equal “economic participation and opportunity” among men and women. With 19.7% of Ugandans still living below the poverty line in 2013 and two in three households that escape poverty and then fall below the poverty line all over again, striving for women’s rights in Uganda is one essential step needed to combat the region’s prevalent poverty. Over the last few years, the Ugandan Government and nonprofit groups have made great strides to advance women’s rights in Uganda.

Legislation for Women’s Rights in Uganda

Over the last 15 years, Uganda has passed a volley of legislation designed to protect women’s rights. These laws make it more likely for women to have the physical health and wellbeing to hold jobs and begin to address the social barriers to women’s economic participation.

  • Laws prohibiting violence against women: The 2009 Persons Act (anti-trafficking), 2010 Anti-Female Genital Mutilation Act, 2010 Domestic Violence Act and additional 2011 domestic violence regulations.
  • The Equal Opportunities Commission Act of 2007: This law gives the Ugandan state power to punish discrimination against sex, while also permitting the state to implement “affirmative action in favor of groups marginalized on the basis of gender… for the purpose of redressing imbalances which exist.”

Governmental Plans for Women’s Rights

Addressing women’s rights in Uganda is a key part of Uganda’s Second National Development Plan 2015/16 – 2019/20. The Plan explains attaining women’s rights as a prerequisite to desired economic growth and proposes several key initiatives to increase women’s access to business ownership and resources. The initiatives include using technology to promote women’s issues, advancing economic reforms to allow women equal access to inheritance, property and public financial resources as well as addressing widespread gender discrimination. An additional public policy plan, The National Strategy to End Child Marriage, seeks to enhance women’s autonomy and economic opportunity by curtailing child marriage, which stunts teenagers’ abilities to seek education and exposes them to marital violence. Due to child marriage, currently up to 35% of girls drop out of school before age 18.

Organizations for Women’s Rights in Uganda

Nonprofit advocacy groups are playing a part to advance and raise awareness for women’s rights too. Girl Up Initiative Uganda provides programs tailored to educate adolescent girls, teaching job skills and economic empowerment. Additionally, Action for Rural Women’s Empowerment (ARUWE Uganda) focuses on teaching agricultural job skills to women in rural areas.

The National Union of Women with Disabilities in Uganda (NUWODU) seeks to expand ongoing women’s rights work to women with disabilities. In particular, NUWODU aims to end discrimination against disabled women workers in the job market and to increase their wages and access to services.

While there is still plenty of work to do, the progress being made by nonprofits and governmental action taken on behalf of Ugandan women enables them to attain long-term economic equality and prosperity that will help the region as a whole to fight poverty.

– Elizabeth Broderick
Photo: Flickr

Parliamentary System Versus the Presidential System

A nation’s type of government indicates how its executive, legislative and judicial levels are organized. There are various constitutional structures of national government throughout the world. The most popular models are the presidential system and the parliamentary system. Both systems are democracies, meaning that citizens have the power to make governmental decisions through their vote. It is critical for citizens to understand the differences between these two systems of government so that they understand the full potential of their votes, as well as their representation. To better understand the parliamentary system versus the presidential system, it’s important to examine how these systems operate within each branch of government.

The Executive Branch

Presidential systems have an executive branch that consists solely of the president. The president is an individual elected by citizens to be head of government and state for a maximum of two terms in office. The President is independent of the legislative branch. Some common responsibilities of the president are to:

  • execute and enforce laws of Congress,
  • sign the legislation into law,
  • veto bills enacted by Congress and
  • conduct diplomacy with foreign nations.

In contrast, parliamentary systems have a clear distinction between the head of government and head of state. In this system, the head of government and parliament is the Prime Minister. Rather than participating in a general election, Parliament elects the Prime Minister. Citizens elect the members of Parliament. Additionally, Parliament makes up the legislative branch of government.

The Prime Minister typically has no limit to the time they can stay in office. However, this means that they are dependent on the satisfaction of Parliament, which has the power to remove the Prime Minister from power. This can be accomplished through a no-confidence vote.

Meanwhile, within a parliamentary system, the head of state may be an elected president. But, the head of state is also commonly a hereditary monarch and acts as a figurehead for the nation.

The Legislative Branch

The legislative branch of the parliamentary system versus the presidential system may either be unicameral or bicameral. Unicameral contains one house, whereas two houses make up a bicameral system. A bicameral legislative system consists of a lower house and upper house. The lower house is where most law-making occurs. Many governments opt for a two-house legislative branch to avoid the concentration of power in one body and ensure the federal government is held accountable.

In presidential systems, the legislative branch will write law for a president to ultimately approve. Though the president may suggest laws, it is ultimately the legislative branch that will write them. In contrast, a Prime Minister will write laws along with the legislature and pass them.

The Judicial Branch

Judicial systems across parliamentary system versus the presidential system have a similar structure. Their structures are similar in that they both strive to create a separation of powers between the judiciary branch and other branches of government. However, the exact structure of these systems varies widely across various countries.

Is One Better Than The Other?

Both forms of government are organized in such a way that they both have various strengths. Due to the vote of no-confidence, it is easy to end the term of a Prime Minister within a parliamentary system. Meanwhile, it is much harder to impeach a president. However, Prime Ministers are dependent on the legislature. In contrast, presidents are completely independent of their legislative branches. They are able to make decisions that they believe are best in the nation’s interest without the influence of outside parties.

Despite all the differences between the parliamentary system versus the presidential system, it is ultimately the members of a nation who hold power. By voting, citizens can express their voice and effect change in their respective countries, no matter their system of government.

– Shreya Gaddipati
Photo: Flickr

The United States is one of the wealthiest nations in the world. Many in the U.S. feel that is their job to help those in poverty stricken countries. Currently, there are  five bills in legislation that affect global poverty.

International Affairs Budget:
One piece of legislation that affects global poverty is the International Affairs Budget. In March 2017, the Trump administration proposed a 31 percent cut to the State Department and USAID funding. This enormous cut has not been seen since World War II. Programs funded by the IAB create jobs here at home by opening new markets to U.S. businesses and protect our national security by fighting terrorism and preventing conflicts before they start. This piece of legislation that affects global poverty can help those in need.

AGOA and MCA Modernization Act
Another piece of legislation that affects global poverty is the African Growth & Opportunity Act (AGOA) and the Millennial Challenge Corporation (MCC) Modernization Act. This legislation that affects global poverty has a rich history. This act has spurred economic development around the world. Strengthening these programs furthers the U.S. position of international leadership and strengthens our domestic economy while protecting our national security interests.

Protecting Girls’ Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act
The lack of education for girls in developing countries can hinder their ability to find jobs, engage in civil society and access other economic opportunities. This piece of legislation that affects global poverty can help. This act will prioritize efforts to support access to primary and secondary education for displaced children with a specific focus on the inclusion of women and girls in foreign assistance programs.

Economic Growth and Development Act
The Economic Growth and Development Act seeks to boost market-based economic growth in developing countries. This legislation that affects global poverty also creates opportunities for the U.S. private sector to become more involved in foreign assistance programs by improving planning and coordination among U.S. departments and agencies.

Global Health Innovation Act
The last legislation that affects global poverty can help significantly. Each year, millions of people in the developing world die of infectious diseases, malnutrition and complications due to pregnancy and childbirth. This act seeks to require the Administrator of the United States Agency for International Development to submit an annual report to Congress on the development and use of global health innovations in the programs, projects and activities of the Agency.

If you feel strongly about any of these issues, visit the borgenproject.org and email your local congressmen. https://borgenproject.org/action-center/

Paige Wilson

Photo: Flickr

a Highly Successful AdvocateA successful advocate stirs up support for policies, legislation and public causes through civil education, awareness campaigns and lobbying with key decision-makers. Here are five things that can make any advocacy campaign more effective.

5 Habits of a Highly Successful Advocate

  1. Understanding Your Cause: A highly successful advocate understands the ins and outs of their cause. In order to speak passionately and authoritatively on an issue for which you are advocating, you must ensure that you read up on it, interact with people who understand and have experienced it and keep abreast of current affairs related to it. Advocacy is a full-time job and whenever you are interacting with other people or legislators, you have an opportunity to tell them about your campaign, so it really helps if you can converse comfortably about it.
  2. Creating Public Awareness: A cause that people know nothing about is doomed to fail. A highly successful advocate must, therefore, mount vigorous awareness campaigns around their cause. In this day and age of information proliferation through the Internet, social media has become one of the best ways to reach out to more people instantaneously. Creating online petitions and being very active on social media sites is a great way for an advocate to engage followers. Writing letters to editors of different newspapers is another means of putting your cause in the limelight. It is also important to blog and consistently publish articles around issues or legislation you are supporting. A successful advocate will also ensure that they network with people who are supporters of the cause.
  3. Consistently Calling and Emailing Congressional Leaders: Did you know that every time you call or email your congressional leaders in support of a piece of legislation, it is recorded and viewed by your elected official every week? Most legislators want to know as many of their constituents’ issues as possible; therefore, to be a successful advocate, you must set aside time each week to consistently call and email legislators to tell them about the cause you support.
  4. Meeting Elected Officials: According to the American Planning Association, meeting in person with elected leaders or their legislative staff is one of the most effective means of political advocacy. When going for lobbying meetings, it is important that you are well prepared in advance by knowing the specific problem you want to tackle and requesting a specific action or solution from the representative that you are meeting. You should also demonstrate that the issue you are presenting has an organized group of supporters. After the visit, ensure that you follow up by sending a thank-you note and tracking how the legislator responds to the issue.
  5. Fundraising: A highly successful advocate ensures that they are not strapped for cash when running their campaigns. It is important, therefore, to raise the capital that will allow you to regularly meet elected officials and key decision-makers, make phone calls and generally support overhead costs required to run your advocacy campaign.

– June Samo

Sources: American Planning Association, Government and Community Relations, Salsa, TASCO, The Advocacy Project, WFP
Photo: Flickr

Legislation
Legislation is one major factor that keeps the United States strong. Without rules and regulations, we simply wouldn’t be the United States. That being said, the year 2015 has been chock full of legislation plans.

In order to be a well-informed citizen, it is important to keep an eye on the current legislation that is in review by the government. The following list will showcase just a few of the many important happenings within Congress.

1. Affordable Care Act

For the nation’s endlessly controversial health care law, 2015 initially looks a little bit like 2012, with lots of uncertainty hinging on a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. States that want to get a head start against the possibility of disruption will have to act quickly.

2. Global Food Security Act

In the last 24 years, we have seen the number of undernourished people in the world go down by 209 million people. Out of that 209 million, 203 million came from “developing regions.” This act would enable our government to craft a comprehensive strategy to enable food security, utilizing the funds, personnel and brainpower of at least 11 different departments and agencies. These organizations would then collaborate with others around the world to advance innovative, cost-effective plans with strong accountability mechanisms.

3. Food for Peace Reform Act

The bill eliminates monetization of the international food market, which GAO has previously criticized as “inefficient” and unsustainable for the recipient’s market. Removing monetization would allow U.S. aid to reach an additional 800,000 people while freeing up to $30 million per year. Under the current process, 25 cents is lost on every taxpayer dollar spent.

4. International Affairs Budget

The International Affairs Budget makes up only a mere one percent of the U.S. federal budget, but impacts all aspects of life in America. These funds are imperative for helping the world’s poor, and as global citizens, we must back initiatives that can save millions of lives both domestically and abroad.

5. School Testing

When governors and state school officials released the Common Core curriculum standards four and a half years ago, the new program was touted as a fair and accurate way to measure student achievement across state lines and cultivate the analytical skills that many argue American children will need in order to compete on a global scale.

This legislation is in no order of importance, as they are all equal in importance to help the United States facilitate positive growth both domestically and internationally.

Alysha Biemolt

Sources: Governing, Borgen Project
Photo: The Whitehouse

NGOs_in_Uganda
Legislation in Ugandan parliament threatens to undermine the work and transparency of the country’s aid organizations. The bill, described by opponents as “draconian,” will put the power of aid organizations in the hands of the government. It will add restrictions and control measures that will essentially put NGOs under work for the government rather than an apolitical frame. Particularly in areas such as government accountability and humanitarian rights, NGOs are under threat of total government control.

The bill, as outlined, would limit the growth of NGOs in Uganda, which have “led to subversive methods of work and activities, which in turn undermine accountability and transparency.” According to junior minister James Baba, the bill has been made to ensure NGOs do not introduce immoral Western practices into the country. “Some of these organizations are involved in our politics and championing morals that are against our culture, which is totally unacceptable. They have to operate in the respective areas we licensed them for easy supervision and monitoring.”

Others, such as Rama Omonya, a policy coordinator at Oxfam in Uganda, say the resolution will strictly limit the work NGOs will be able to do. It will give power to the internal affairs minister and national NGO board to supervise, inspect, restrict and dissolve all NGOs functioning in the country. Furthermore, NGOs could only work in areas where they have been approved by district NGO governing boards and with whom they have signed a memorandum of understanding. In the event of an emergency such as a landslide, NGOs would have to seek the approval of the district undergoing turmoil before working there, wasting valuable time and supplies and leaving many people suffering while waiting for the help and resources of aid organizations. If an NGO does not renew its permit, it can be fined or punished for up to eight years. Officials would have the right to search NGO office at any time and dissolve or suspend its work for actions they deem inappropriate or anti-government.

The subjective nature of this new bill would put NGOs at risk and under the strict control of the government. Humanitarian organizations and watchdog civil service organizations in particular need freedom and independence from government supervision in order to report crises and send aid to the communities that need it. According to Omonya, these organizations are vital to the welfare of many living in Uganda and should be given expanded, not restricted powers.

Beyond delivering aid and human service, NGOs in Uganda also provide education, healthcare and human rights reporting. Under the guise of the government, its power and aid potential would be severely curtailed. The accountability and transparency the government claims it would be enforcing would indeed be lessened, restricting the well-being and humanitarian conditions of people in need of aid in Uganda.

Jenny Wheeler

Sources: NGO Forum, Irin News
Photo: Flickr