Report on the National Policy Advocacy Meeting on Wee in Uganda

Report on the National Policy Advocacy Meeting on Wee in Uganda with Policy Makers at Sheraton Hotel, Kampala

UWOPA in partnership with Action organized an advocacy meeting with Members of Parliament and other members of the WEE coalition.

In Uganda women contribute 49.5%(World Bank Report, 2019) of the country’s labor force with agriculture being the major economic activity and women are most smallholder farmers and any failure to release their full potential contributes to low economic growth and food insecurity. Progress in reducing gender discrimination in the labour market is a key to unleashing pro-poor growth, as many studies show has been slow. Labour force participation and women’s wages still lag far behind those of men across different sectors. Gendered power structures and social norms lock both women and men in positions that limit both their productivity and their ability to choose the lives they want to live. Gender equality benefits both men and women, but as women are marginalized as economic actors, due to structural inequalities that leaves more women than men economically insecure. Due to their financial dependency on men, its effects were felt more during the COVID19 pandemic where we saw a huge rise in the number of GBV cases country wide hence the need for different actors to dialogue on post COVID19 pandemic recovery mechanisms for different initiatives that are geared towards women economic empowerment. Against this background, AAIU organizing a breakfast dissemination meeting with some members of parliament on Women’s Economic Empowerment in Uganda. This was an opportunity for us to share about the WEE coalition, share about WEE in Uganda, achievements and concerns.

A group photo of MPs together with the Coalition Members on Women Economic Empowerment (WEE)

Hon Alum Santa, woman representative of Oyam District said as Members of Parliament in Uganda, we are known for coming up with very good laws and policies and many people come to our country to benchmark on our laws but unfortunately we are weak at implementation. We as a country have done so well when it comes to women representation in political spheres, education but one key issue where we haven’t moved much is the economic empowerment of women especially for the women at the grass root. In the 9th parliament through the leadership of the Rt. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga, who was the speaker of parliament in the line of women economic empowerment we fought so hard to ensure that the women also begin receiving the government fund and am grateful that these efforts weren’t in vein as the UWEP programme was came to life. In the 10th parliament, the Rt. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga launched a monitoring visit to Busoga and western Uganda together with UWOPA to monitor UWEP programmes and I am happy to report that women are doing well. Being somebody that comes from the North and as far as my district is concerned, women are doing well as far as the UWEP program is concerned. In the last parliament, government came up with a proposal of scrapping off UWEP and putting it with other funds, I salute all the women and men who were there and fought so hard to save the women fund so that it’s not merged with the parish model. Given we have very many new members of parliament, this leaves us a task as UWOPA to ensure that we guard the women’s fund, and we will do this together with our male supporters. I am a product of a common woman who was raised by someone raising money from the informal sector and as I mentioned earlier that politically and under the education sector we have done so well to try and address the gender injustices and discrimination. Under women economic empowerment, we are not doing well as a country and yet the majority of the women derive their income the informal sector. When we talk of COVID19, you will realize that yes people have lost jobs (the educated ones) but how about that woman at grassroot. When measures of controlling the spread of covid19 were introduced the president asked all markets to be closed but who are most people who derive an income from the markets? Majority are the women. When we talk of access to finances and credit, you and I may have the requirements to access the funds from UDB for example but how about the women at grassroot. As UWOPA, we are happy to join hands with you to make sure that we push together until the women realise their full potential in the progress, growth and development of this country. “Said Hon Alum Santa in her remarks. The meeting was highly participatory with presentation of an issue paper on women economic.

Hon.Kibalya Henry Maurice called upon civil society organsaitions and development partners to consider Busoga region for their initiatives on women economic empowerment as the situation is alarming. He committed to organising another meeting where we can have a comprehensive discussion on issues of women in Eastern region especially Busoga districts and called upon members present to be a part of this discussion.

Hon Avur Jane Pacuto- woman MP of Pakwach, requested MGLSD to provide them with a detailed report and analysis on the performance of UWEP per district and its impact on the women as this will enable them to support the agenda of more funds allocation towards the programme during the budgeting committee meetings effectively as that is our dream. She committed to work with other members present to reinstate the market bill as it’s a core for employment for many women in Uganda. 5. Hon Alum Santa committed to joining the colleagues that will advocate for the reinstatement of the market bill and requested Hon. Winnie Masiko on behalf of MGLSD to always join hands with members of parliament by availing them with all the necessary evidence to address the issue of UWEP being merged with the parish model and market bill during the necessary committee meetings where these discussions can be tabled.

The following commitments were made:-

 • AAIU committed to having subsequent meetings to enable us to redefine the things we have talked about in this meeting that play a great role on the WEE agenda in Uganda.

• MGLSD committed to committed to involving members of parliament in UWEP program activities in their areas/constituencies and availing them with updates on email on the performance of their areas of representation when it comes to UWEP programme.

• Members of parliament present committed to working towards the reinstatement of the market bill as it is key and many women in the formal sector derive an income from the markets.

In her closing remarks, Hon. Sarah Opendi thanked Action Aid together with all other partners for organising this meeting and also most importantly for the presentations made. “I must say I was surprised that there is a market bill and I have never haeard of it yet I feel its very important as majority of the women are the market vendors. I pledge that working with colleagues as UWOPA and even those outside UWOPA, we shall ensure that this bill is concluded and tabled. We commit to ensure we cut on the processes for bills that had been processed by the house, tabled and discussed on the floor of the 10th parliament and have bills reinstated for the 11th parliament. I call upon civil society and development partners in the subsequent meetings to guide us on what bills we can come up with in the aspect of covid19 pandemic which can be enacted into laws. We need to ensure that there is affordable credit availed to the women where they can pay back with a minimal interest to enable them to run their businesses.