Ms. Rosa Malango remarks: Launch of the 2016 Africa Human Development Report - Accelerating Gender Equality and Women’s empowerment in Africa

Oct 27, 2016

Honourable Minister of Gender Labour and Social Development,

Your Excellency, the Ambassador Kazuaki Kameda,

Honourable Chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Gender Labour and Social Development,

The Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development,

Colleagues from the United Nations System and Development Partners,

Member of the Civil Society, Academia and the media,

Distinguished Panelists,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

 

It is my singular pleasure to welcome you all to the national launch of the 2016 Africa Human Development Report which was prepared by UNDP with generous support from the Government of Japan.

Launched on the 28th of August during the sixth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD VI) Summit in Nairobi Kenya, the report focuses on “Accelerating Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Africa.”

Its key messages are that:

  • Giving greater attention to gender equality will support faster and more inclusive human development and economic growth for Africa;
  • Policies and programmes which leave out or disenfranchise women are counterproductive for development;
  • Accelerating gender equality must be seen as a core function of government. It requires efforts across national and local government, civil society, and the private sector; and
  • Addressing gender equality in a holistic way will advance both the UN’s 2030 Agenda and African Union Agenda 2063.

Importance of gender equality

This report recognises the progress that African Countries, including Uganda, have made towards attaining gender equality and women’s empowerment. It also highlights the challenges that lie ahead in ensuring that gender equity is achieved in all spheres of society including the home, the workplace and the community.

From the human development perspective, improving women’s capabilities and opportunities will contribute to better outcomes for present and future generations. To address challenges in the economic, political, social and environmental spheres, the nexus between gender equality and human development must be made.

Uganda’s success story

I applaud efforts by the Government of Uganda towards gender equality and women’s empowerment which have seen the country make significant progress made towards its achievement.  

To this end, the country with the support of UN Women has ratified to several gender equality and women empowerment frameworks and instruments including the 1995 Beijing Declaration which calls for laws and institutions in and outside government, to make rights, equality of opportunity and socio-economic transformation real for women and girls.

Efforts to fulfil these conditions can be seen in Uganda’s 1995 Constitution, which has been described as one of the most gender responsive constitutions in Africa.

In addition, a National Gender Policy (1997) and Gender Action Plan were formulated to ensure that Government policies and programs in all areas and at all levels are consistent with the long-term goal of eliminating gender inequalities.

Government programmes like the Universal Primary Education (UPE) have closed gender gaps in school enrolment by 93.0%, close to the MDG target of 100% as reported in the 2015 Uganda MDG progress report. Furthermore, Ugandan women are also able to serve in public offices, diplomatic missions as well as the armed forces.

I also know that many of you here today have worked tirelessly for the gender equality cause, ensuring that the provisions of Uganda’s Constitution and the National Gender policy (2007) are translated into local realities in your local communities.

We can see these here in Kampala where women are running small businesses to provide shelter, food and school fees for their children. In different corners of this country, women are the backbone of the agricultural sector growing food to feed their families and far flung markets in neighbouring countries of Kenya, South Sudan, Rwanda and Congo.

UNFPA, UN Women and Civil Society Organisations have been key in fighting Gender Based Violence by rescuing girls and women from oppressive relationships by setting up domestic violence shelters. They are also supporting female and male refugees, and running schools for both girls and boys who have run from conflict.

UNDP’s commitment to and support for accelerating gender equality in Uganda

UNDP has been honoured be part of Uganda’s gender journey over the years, for example;

Gender responsive budgeting was institutionalised during the 9th Parliament with the support of the Gender Budgeting programme funded by UNDP and the Japan Trust Fund. To date, the Ministries of Gender, Finance and Local Governments have made gender and equity budgeting, part of their mandate, planning processes and day-to-day work.

UNDP and UN Women have also been part of engendering of Uganda‘s legislation through strengthening the capacity of Members of Parliament for gender responsive legislation.

Our early recovery programmes in Acholi and Langi sub-regions saw various women groups form Village Savings and Loans Associations that made credit facilities easily accessible and affordable enabling them to start small businesses to support their families.

UNDP, with financing from the Global Environment Facility, worked with the Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning, and Development to promote community-led management in dryland areas where women – as primary food producers and wood and water collectors – are most vulnerable to the effects of drought and land degradation. From 2010 to 2015, wood saving stoves were distributed to 12,000 households – a move which saves women much time in collecting firewood. These efforts, along with other sustainable land management techniques supported by the project, have also resulted in a total of 700,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide sequestered so far.

More recently, through our Peace Architecture for Conflict Transformation Project, we worked with UN Women in support of the Women’s Situation Room to advocate for peaceful 2016 national elections.

UNDP, as a global knowledge network will continue to produce products such as the Human Development Report that inform the formulation of gender responsive policy and regulatory frameworks for sustainable and inclusive economic development.

Challenges

Despite all our best efforts, indicated above, a lot remains to be done to ensure that gender equality and women’s empowerment becomes a reality in all corners of our society.  For example, various reports indicate that in spite of an enabling land law, women in Uganda are still not able to own land yet they are responsible for tilling it.

In addition, women are not paid equally for the same work as men and are mostly likely to be working in vulnerable employment particularly in the informal sector - what the report describes as the pervasive gender gap in economic activities that constrains the continent’s achievement of its full economic potential – averaging a loss of about $95 billion annually since 2010 in sub-Saharan Africa.

Bringing this closer to home, the cost of the gender gap in Uganda’s agriculture sector alone is estimated at US$67 million per year, which could construct about 134kms of tarmac road or 8 general hospitals at an estimated cost of approximately US$8 million.

Addressing the challenges

To address these persistent gender gaps across the economic, social, environmental, and political spheres, the Africa Human Development report 2016 calls on countries to;  

  • Support the adoption of legal reforms, policies and programmes that advance women's economic empowerment;
  • Support national capacities to promote and increase the participation and leadership of women in decision-making in the home, the economy and society;
  • Support capacity to implement multi-sectoral approaches to mitigate the impacts of discriminatory health and education practice, and;
  • Support women to gain access to ownership and management of assets and resources.

In addition, it calls for the establishment of African Women’s Investment Bank and opening up Women’s investment windows. Uganda is already on the road to this through the recently sent up Women’s Entrepreneurship Fund in the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development.

 

The report also calls for commitment of both public and private sector companies to implement the Gender Equality Seal Certification – a UNDP initiative to promote standards that foster equality for both female and male employees.

 

I am happy to report that, the Private Sector Foundation of Uganda has on behalf of its members, pledged to adopt the Gender Equality Seal, as part of their efforts to make business more gender responsive.

 

The Gender Equality Seal also complements the Government Gender and Equity Certificate which is used to assess the gender responsiveness of sector plans and budgets, as provided for by the Public Finance Management Act (PFM

2014).

Conclusion

The recommendations, if adapted, will be key for attaining Uganda’s Vision 2040, as well as, Agenda 2030 and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) particularly Goal 5 on gender equality.  

As Helen Clark, the UNDP Administrator said in her remarks during the launch of this same report, ‘Keeping gender equality and women’s empowerment at the center of development efforts is one of the best ways of accelerating progress across these bold agendas.’

UNDP and the UN family remain committed to working with Government and all other key stakeholders to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment in Uganda.

I therefore call on each of you to become champions for gender equality and women’s empowerment so that we can achieve equal as well transformation development for boys and girls, women and men in every corner of Uganda.

Thank you.

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