More than 27 million out of a population of 32 million people live in the rural countryside of Uganda, the majority of whom have not been shielded from the harsh realities of poverty.
Lack of access to water and sanitation is already exposing rural women in conflict areas to more dangers like battering, rape and poverty. But with the looming impacts expected due to climate change, these dangers are feared to double.
Due to social gender roles, women are made responsible to meet water and sanitation needs of the family. In North Eastern Uganda, like Karamoja and Teso, a woman walks an average of ten kilometers in the dry season for water, spending 15-17 hours a week looking for water. This means that the same woman will spend two months of her time a year just walking long distances in search for water.
Girls too are being affected with the lack of water and sanitation---affecting their schooling the most and have to share toilet facilities with boys. Many of them have ended up dropping out of school. Discrimination against women due to gender violates women's rights, undermines their health and well-being and cripples development of individual women's status.
In Uganda, as in many African countries, gender discrimination means that women must submit to an overall lower social status than men. For many women, this reduces their power to act independently, become educated, avoid poverty, and/or escape reliance upon abusive men. Many girls and young women become coerced into sex or can be obliged to trade sex for economic survival.
It is common for girls to become sexually active at a much younger age than men, causing the rise of HIV/AIDS to become even more pronounced. Older men are breaking long-established social customs and choosing younger and younger girls to become their sexual partner in order to avoid catching HIV. In doing so, these men are in fact infecting them with HIV.
In some districts, HIV prevalence among 13–19 year old girls is at least 10 times higher than in males of the same age.