Project Related => Gender Balance and Internet => Topic started by: Peter Kuthan / AZFA on October 07 2015

Title: How is Gender equality and women’s empowerment key in Uganda’s economic growth?
Post by: Peter Kuthan / AZFA on October 07 2015
Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET) conducted a research on Gender Equality in the Knowledge Society; and a critical analysis on participation of women and girls in Science, Technology and Innovation, politics and business. Gender inequalities are widespread in the different sectors, regardless of an existing enabling policy environment, because of limited enforcement. MDG 3 and SDG 5 reveal how essential gender equality and women’s empowerment are across the globe. Achieving gender equality is paramount and a powerful stimuli for action by governments and donors. Uganda’s women have not achieved full equality with men, and this exposes the need for keeping a strong focus on gender equality and women’s rights in the development agenda beyond 2015. Women and girls are always discriminated against in health, education and the labor market; thereby affecting their freedoms. In Uganda, men have monopolized the political process, passing laws which affect society at large, the decision-making process always lacks a balance in catering for the interests of male and female citizens. The exclusion of women from decision-making bodies limits the possibilities for entrenching the principles of democracy in a society, hindering economic development and discouraging the attainment of gender equality.

Regrettably, several factors influence the level of female participation and these include:- Social- cultural tendencies that disregard women and girls’ rights; it affects girl children’s level of participation in public foras and in taking Science and Technology courses and professions. Lack of self confidence among women and girls, among others. Highest levels of violence against women and Feminized poverty

A snapshot of the findings include:

    Uganda loses more than 200 doctors a year to other nations and this has led to increase in doctor: patient ratio of 1:28,000 compared to 1:5000 recommended by WHO. This has resulted into persistent high maternal mortality rates. Only 42.1% mothers deliver at health facilities compared to 57.8% delivering from homes. This exposes more women in the reproductive age to serious health risks at delivery.

    Uganda has only 2 female aerospace engineers accounting for 1%. The second female engineer came up over 35years after the first.

    Increased proportion of pregnant women living with HIV accessing ARVs from 33% in 2007 to 87% in 2014 due to Increased testing for HIV in pregnant women from 30 % in 2008 to 95 % in 2014.

    Cultural tendencies: Women aged 15-49 subjected to Female Genital Mutilation, suffer loss of physical integrity and physical violence, it is endured among the Sabiny, in Kapchorwa.

To improve women’s status, there is need for:-

Ensuring women’s economic empowerment, access to and control over resources requires an integrated approach to growth and development, focusing on gender-responsive employment promotion and creating a gender-sensitive macroeconomic environment, full employment and decent work and full coverage of social protection measures.

Women’s equal participation with men in power and decision making is a fundamental right. But Uganda as a patriarchal society has local power structures that make it hard for women’s interests to be represented. The more powerful the institution, the less likely it is that women’s interests will be represented. Women in governance are faced by numerous obstacles, including: – the assumption that women should be confined in the domestic sphere to care for family reduces their ability to enter the political arena. At household level, there is unequal division of labor which suppresses women and limit their representation in public.

Government needs to strengthen the enforcement of the policies towards gender equality.

It is time to put women and girls front, center and to back up political rhetoric with action. Increased investments in policy areas will have catalytic effects on the lives of women and girls, and accelerate progress towards development.

by Irene Murungi, Gender Policy Officer at Women of Uganda Network (WOUGNET), discussing the importance of gender equality in economic development.