Uganda’s Private Sector adopts the Gender Equality Seal for Public and Private Enterprises and pledges to support the Sustainable Development Goals

Aug 19, 2016

Patrick Bitature, the Chairperson of Private Sector Foundation Uganda & SDG 8 ambassador for Uganda, Almaz Gebru, the UNDP Country Director and Hon. Matia Kasaija the Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development sign the declaration pledging to adopt to the Gender Equality seal as well as make business more supportive of the new Sustainable Development Goals. Looking on is Dr. Maggie Kigozi, one of Uganda’s eminent business people and SDG 5 ambassador.

Kampala – The Private Sector in Uganda has pledged to adopt the Gender Equality Seal Certification Programme for Public and Private Enterprises – a model pioneered by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) to help organisations create more equitable conditions for men and women in the work place.  

The pledge was made when a declaration was signed by Mr. Patrick Bitature, the chairperson of the Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU) and Ms. Almaz Gebru, the UNDP Country Director, at the High-level Policy dialogue on the role of the Private Sector in delivering Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

“We as the Private Sector endorse the gender equality seal because we know that women and men differ in their business needs. We also know that women deserve to be  at the negotiation table by virtue of merit and not just because of empowerment,” Mr. Bitature,  emphasized, adding that women do not only need opportunity but also skills to enable them become a driving force within the private sector.  

Mr. Bitature who is also the local SDG 8 (good jobs and economic growth) ambassador further added the Seal provides a concrete tool for the private sector to contribute to the achievement the SDGs by reducing gender gaps through promoting women’s economic empowerment as well as bringing equality in the workplace.

The Minister of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Hon. Matia Kasaija, who witnessed  the signing of the declaration  also endorsed the gender equality seal and called for all efforts to be used in ensuring that there’s equal opportunity for both men and women.

Hon. Kasaija who was representing the Prime Minister at the dialogue said that the government is currently trying to ensure that there’s gender balance in public office through a constitutional review.

The UNDP Gender Equality seal is a model for organisations both in the public and private sector to position themselves as equal opportunity entities.

It promotes equal opportunity practises by introducing a company-wide learning mechanism and firm certification programme. Designed by UNDP in 2007, it aims to strengthen performance across the public and the private sector in ways that deliver equal benefits for women and men hence enabling the achievement certain targets of the SDGs.

The Seal assesses a company’s business strategy from a gender perspective and helps to understand how decisions affect female as well as male staff and clients. It also analyses how different issues affect gender roles in the work places. These issues might relate to gender related pay gaps, work life balance, communication as well as sexual harassment in the work place.

Companies that have adopted the Gender Equality Seal, can see their businesses speaking to sustainable development and the benefits accrued have been huge in terms of boosting employee productivity, customer satisfaction, an inclusive corporate climate, and business practices that bring in and retain the talent and clientele of both men and women.

When gender parity is achieved, work places in the private and public sector are better able to take part in supporting the realisation of Agenda 2030 and its 17 SDGs which were a key theme for the meeting and the second part of the declaration made by the Private sector.

“We were not part of the discussion on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and this time, the private sector can no longer stand on the sidelines- It has to be a part of the SDGs,” Gideon Badagawa, the Executive Director of PSFU said.

He added that these goals would enable them be part of the development process especially since some goals were focused at building better economies through industry.

Speaking on behalf of UNDP, Ms. Almaz Gebru emphasised that the SDGs are not just another fancy development agenda for government and development practitioners but an opportunity for business people to take part in driving sustainable development.

“The private sector contributes the largest share of income and employment in Uganda.  By adopting sustainable practices, the nascent private sector can show the way for the future while still optimising its competitiveness and profitability,” she said.

She pointed out that by ensuring that both men and women have equal access to employment opportunities and creating an environment that supports working mothers, the private sector can greatly contribute to reduction in gender disparities and accelerate economic growth.

Hon. Kasaija agreeing with her added that the solution to Uganda’s youth unemployment problem lies with the private sector since government can only offer a few jobs within the public sector.

“That is why as government we recognise you, the private sector as an important player in achieving both the SDGs and our Vision 2040,” he said.

The dialogue which was attended by various players from the private sector is the first step towards ensuring that the private sector with UNDP’s support becomes a key player in the implementation of the SDGs as well as practising the goals of the Gender Seal.

With this declaration, Uganda becomes the first country in Africa to interest its private sector in taking on the challenge of ensuring the gender equality as well as equal opportunity in all areas of its work.