BY LABAN MUSINGUZI
Every March 08th, Uganda joins the rest of the world to commemorate the International Women’s Day. And always have an annual theme which recognizes the importance of women’s participation in changing the world of work.
Women in the previous regimes were in a position only described as powerless, women were not allowed to express their opinions in public, a view that is deeply embedded in African patriarchal values, which relegate women to the affairs of only the home and family.
Since 1986, the NRM Government embarked on a deliberate effort to empower women and provide them with equal opportunities as their male counterparts to take up leadership positions in Government and the private sector.
Under the NRM Government, Affirmative measures have increased women’s role in decision making and participation at all levels in society. Some of the fruits of women empowerment by the NRM Government include the proportion of women in parliament is over 30%. Additional points to female applicants who wish to gain entry to university has substantially increased enrolment of girls in Universities amd tertiary institutions, the ratio of girls to boys in primary education has now reached 1:1. NRM policy will remain dedicated to gender-responsive development.
President Museveni’s government has also put efforts towards providing a conducive policy and legal environment aimed at promoting women’s participation, that’s to say ratifying key internal and regional human rights instruments for empowerment of women and addressing gender parity, including the 1995 Beijing Declaration and platform for action, the united nations convention on elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and the protocol to the African charter on human and people’s rights on the rights of women in Africa.
The constitution of Uganda also upholds the principle of equality and protection of the rights of men and women with regards to employment opportunities, rights to safety and health and freedom from discrimination. The Local Government Act stipulates that women must occupy 30% of all positions of the Local Council structure while people with disabilities occupy 20% of these positions (a man and woman) (Local Government Act 1996). This gives a total of 40% of women's representation on these structures. To widen the women’s National presence, the Government created women constituencies as explained in ‘NRM 25 Years: Politics, Policies and Personalities’.
Government through Ministries, Departments and Agencies have designed, built, and strengthened their planning, budgeting, policy-making and accountability mechanisms through a project team funded by UNDP (with national and international expertise supervised by Government), This approach was used to domesticate the Global Gender Budgeting Initiative and the Gender and Macro-Economic Policy Management Initiative (GEPMI). To date, gender and equity budgeting is a mandate of not only the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development but also Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Ministry of Local Government and the Equal Opportunities Commission. These government institutions ensure gender equity in public finance management, as provided for by the Public Finance Management Act (PFM, 2014).
Government through a partnership with the Private Sector Foundation (PSFU), made Uganda the first country in Africa to endorse the Gender Equality Seal for private enterprises. The Private Sector Foundation in Uganda (PSFU) signed up to adopt the Gender Equality Seal and offered to have its members implement it. The pledge by PSFU to make business adopt the Gender Equality Seal, is an innovation for closing gender gaps in corporate environments. Currently working with the Uganda Women Entrepreneurs Association (UWEAL), to promote increased participation by business women and professionals in public procurement.
There was a commissioned vendor mapping study at the UNDP country office, to generate data on the value and percentage of procurement purchases awarded to women-owned businesses and professionals by UNDP. This data was validated and used by Uganda Women Entrepreneurs Association (UWEAL), to organise a learning event that equipped more women with knowledge on mainstreaming gender in public procurement.
In conclusion, the Government of Uganda under President Kaguta Museveni noticed that Investing in women's economic empowerment sets a direct path towards gender equality, poverty eradication, inclusive economic growth and sustainable development. Women make enormous contributions to economies by participating in business, politics, agriculture, as entrepreneurs, employees, or by doing unpaid care work at home. This is because Women who are economically empowered tend to be change agents in the society.
Laban Musinguzi is a Communications Assistant at Government Coitizen Interaction Centre (GCIC), Ministry of ICT & National Guidance.