KAMPALA – The Uganda Government has assured the international community of its commitment towards social protection initiatives that give momentum to gender equality and women empowerment.
Speaking Wednesday during the ongoing 63rd session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at the UN headquarters in New York, Gender Ministry Permanent Secretary Pius Bigirimana noted that Uganda was already making strides in the area of women empowerment through various programmes.
He observed that with 51% of the 37.7 million Ugandans being women and the young people below the age of 30 years accounting for 80% of the population, it was imperative for the government to run a progressive Social Protection Policy Framework.
“Implementation of Social Protection initiatives is a priority commitment to the Uganda Government and this is articulated in the Policy Instruments like Vision 2040, the Second National Development Plan, the National Social Protection Policy 2015, as well as the various Sector specific policies and strategies.” Mr Bigirimana said.
He is heading Uganda’s delegation at the annual international assembly that specifically discusses and sets the global agenda on gender equality and the empowerment of women.
This year’s theme focuses on Social Protection Systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure for gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.
The assembly being attended by representatives of UN Member States, UN entities, and accredited non-governmental organizations (NGOs) from all regions of the world opened on March 11th and runs up to 22nd March 2019.
The permanent secretary informed the plenary that Uganda had developed the National Policy and Action Plan on Elimination of Gender-Based Violence, 2016, which is guiding interventions for prevention, response and ending impunity for all forms of Gender Based Violence.
He cited the Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Programme (UWEP) which has to date extended direct capital to 117, 274 women.
“We also have the Youth Livelihood Programme (YLP), which supports youth groups to undertake business enterprises. This has reached a total of 223, 642 beneficiary youth of which 101, 887 are female (46%) and 121,755 are male in the last five years,” he added.
For the elderly, Bigirimana revealed that the national rollout of the Social Assistance Grants for Empowerment (SAGE) for older persons is being pursued. He said currently there are 157, 493 beneficiaries, the majority of whom are women.
He also enumerated the Investments in infrastructure particularly, transport, electricity and renewable energy that have supported women including those living in rural and hard-to-reach areas, access public services.
As a move to increase women’s economic status and contribution to national development, Bigirimana revealed that government was reviewing the current procurement laws to ensure that women are entitled to a 30% quota of the available public procurement jobs.
“Women have also devised innovative approaches that build on traditional mechanisms for social protection through informal credit and savings groups, mutual assistance and self-help schemes which are essential for the livelihoods of household and communities,” he noted.
As members of the Village Health Teams (VHTs), women are involved in health promotion, mobilizing communities to access immunization, mosquito nets, HIV & AIDS counselling and testing services, antenatal as well as hygiene and sanitation facilities, he said.
Mr Bigirimana reaffirmed Government of Uganda’s commitment tthe o implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action, an instrument that sets a global standard for gender equality and women’s empowerment.
He called upon Development Partners and all Ugandans to support the government efforts to implement Uganda’s prioritized Social Protection initiatives.