Gender equality and women empowerment so far so good | Land Portal
Sarah Kyobe
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Using a number of initiatives, the government has continuously endorsed the rights of women to ensure that they are economically and monetarily viable.

As we celebrate this year’s International Women’s Day, on March 8 in Mbale district under the theme, "Celebrating 25 Years of the 1995 Constitution: Milestones on promoting Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Uganda.’

It is worth celebrating women’s day since the Government of Uganda has notable milestones on gender equality and woman empowerment execution though not yet at 100%.  

The government enacted several laws to promote women’s right which include the National Women's Council Act (1993), the Domestic Violence Act (2010); the Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act (2010); and the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act (2009), the Persons with Disabilities Act as amended (2019) and the Child Amendment Act (2016).

Using a number of initiatives, the government has continuously endorsed the rights of women to ensure that they are economically and monetarily viable. 

In the Financial Year 2015/2016, Women Entrepreneurship Programme (UWEP) was introduced to improve women’s access to financial services, prepare them with skills for enterprise growth, value addition, marketing of their products and services.

UWEP funds have enabled women to start businesses and yield profits which they have used to provide basic education to their children and cater to their basics needs which include shelter, food, and clothing.

A total of 10,446 women projects were financed by October 2019 and 130,258 women directly benefited, including those in rural areas.

Similarly, government-sanctioned various international human rights to protect the rights of workers.

These are the Occupational Safety and Health Act (2006), the Employment Act (2006), the Employment Regulations (2011), the Employment (Sexual Regulations (2012) among others with the aim to ensure decent, remunerated employment for all persons women inclusive.

With the Employment Law, women are now entitled to maternity leave of sixty working days on a fully paid basis with the right to return to their jobs.

Before, women were only given 45 days of maternity leave. The daycares are being set up at workplaces so that mothers have time to breastfeed their babies at their workplaces i.e. Parliament and Uganda National Roads Authority and New Vision among other places. 

On women’s participation in decision-making, currently, there are 33 full ministers, 12 of whom are women and these include Mrs Janet Museveni Kataha, the first lady and Minister of Education and Sports, Dr. Aceng Jane- Health, Hon. Mbayo Esther  – Presidency, Hon, Hon. Kamya Beti - Lands, Housing and Urban Development, Dr Kitutu Mary-  Energy and Mineral Development, Hon. Nabakooba Judith -  ICT and  National Guidance. Out of 46 ministers of state, 14 are women these are Hon. Akiror Agnes - Minister (Teso Affairs), Hon. Nansubuga Rosemary - Education and Sports (Primary Education), Hon. Opendi Sarah Achieng- Energy and Mineral Development (Minerals) and Hon. Kabatsi Joy - Works and Transport (Transport).

Within the Opposition Shadow Cabinet, 8 out of 39 shadow ministers are women. The 10th Parliament featured two female leaders of the Opposition for the first time, Hon. Winnie Kizza and Hon. Betty Aol Ochan all belonging to Forum for Democratic Change.

In addition, Rt Hon. Rebecca Kadaga, who has served as the Speaker for the 9th and 10th Parliaments, is a female. The percentage of female representatives in Parliament now stands at 34.86%.

In spite of the above progress, the occurrence of Gender-Based Violence in Uganda remains high.

Women are still experiencing domestic and sexual violence, particularly in rural areas.

The recent case of domestic violence is that of Brenda Namuyomba. Brenda was badly beaten by her husband Prince Martin Juuko on allegation of cheating.

Juuko posted pictures of his wife Brenda Namuyomba, whom he had tied with a belt and severely beaten, it was a shock to the Nation.

Brenda is not alone; many women are beaten and nursing wounds quietly in their homes because they fear to speak up. Former Vice President Hon. Wandera Kazibwe and Hon. Judith Babirye to have been a victim of domestic violence as well.

The 2018 Ugandan police’s crime report show 14,985 defilement cases and 1,335 rape cases. It’s sad that even fathers are involved in raping, defiling and impregnating their own daughters.

Ahmad Majwala Bbaale, 44, of Byuma zone in Kyazanga trading centre in 2008 was arrested when his daughter revealed in the village council meeting how she had birthed four children with her father according to the online paper.

And women's ownership of properties is still a big challenge.  Women who own properties are still very few compared to men.

The absence of clear laws to address fairness in land ownership is affecting women’s economic and social rights.

In addition, norms and practices of excluding women from owning, inheriting and land controlling are depriving women of land rights thus making them dependent on men.

As I conclude I call upon girls and women to speak up against physical and sexual abuse most especially those who have been victims rather than keeping quiet.

Report the culprits for action to the concerned authorities like Child and Family Protection Unit (Police) and the family court too should treat these cases with urgency.

Women ministers and female MPs we want to see more from you via fronting women the issues on the floor of parliament.

We feel you are letting us down, more bills to be passed into laws advocating for women to inherit their fathers’ properties and own land. among other issues.

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