MAKERERE – The Deputy Chief Justice Alfonse Owiny-Dollo has appealed to academia to unpack for the community, the aspect of gender equality as enshrined in the country’s Constitution.
This was at the launch of the Gender Equality reports and a tool kit for gender equality practitioners at the School of Food Technology, Nutrition and Bio-engineering Conference Hall, Makerere University.
Makerere University School of Women and Gender Studies (SWGS) and the University Forum on Governance (UNIFOG) conducted two studies to enrich the knowledge system around gender equality legal and policy framework in Uganda under the Gender Equality Project (GEP).
Funded by the Democratic Governance Facility (DGF), the studies were conducted primarily to inform improvement in gender equality laws and policies by identifying the pros and cons in existing gender equality laws, policies and provide recommendations for improvements. The two studies then informed the development of a toolkit on gender equality indicators, results, and measurement.
In a keynote address on the Gender Equality Legislative Framework in Uganda – Strength, Gaps and Opportunities for Attainment of Holistic Gender Equality, the Principal Investigator, GEP-Assoc. Prof. Sarah Ssali mentioned that Uganda has a legal and policy framework conducive for advancing gender equality although the challenge still lies in implementation.
This is among others caused by lack of deeper analysis of causes of gender disparity and addressing them. The Domestic Violence Act is, for example, a good gender law but without economic empowerment of women, rarely will the female victims report their breadwinners. The research helps in identifying these gaps and proposing ways of bridging them,” she stated.
Assoc. Prof. Sarah Ssali, also the Dean School of Women and Gender Studies, Makerere University reported that there was an appreciation from the communities visited that stakeholders had over sensitized on issues of Gender Equality.
She added that GEP carries out continuous horizon scanning on a weekly basis for any developments on the Gender Equality terrain such as communities adopting by-laws. The findings are then mapped with the GEP objectives so as to keep the Project in tandem with national dynamics.
Addressing participants at a highly colorful ceremony, the Deputy Chief Justice highlighted the importance of breaking down the complex terms on gender equality enshrined in the Constitution by academicians. This, he said, would help to inform the public about their rights and what the laws provide for when it comes to gender equality matters.
“It is important that this equality is unpacked and well explained. I am happy that in the Gender Equality Project, Makerere University and her partners to emphasize the equality of rights, voices, and opportunities for all, which is a contribution to unpacking the aspects of equality as enshrined in our constitution,” he said.
Justice Owiny-Dollo noted that the 1995 Constitution in Article 21 proclaims equality for all persons. Since the promulgation of the Constitution in 1995, Uganda has registered commended gains in empowering hitherto marginalized group especially the women, youth and persons with disabilities.
“Some of the admirable developments in Uganda is that these critical social groups are now legally part of the decision-making processes at various levels of Government. Thanks to legal provisions for their representation in Parliament and Local Councils,” he remarked.
Highlighting the tremendous role done by the DGF in promoting human rights, and enhancing access to justice in Uganda, the Head, Mr. Wim Stoffers, said that his organization is mindful of the role of Universities in shaping the discourse on democratic governance.
He mentioned that DGF has extended support to several projects at Makerere University that aimed at contributing towards gender equality legislation in Uganda. DGF has also supported individual projects carried out by the staff of the University.
“Gender is among the three crosscutting issues in the current DGF programming. There is a need for all stakeholders to understand gender in a broad context beyond women, women empowerment and activism. Gender is not a women’s thing,” he said.
He commended the two reports saying that they will be key reference documents in the gender discourse. He congratulated SWGS and UNIFOG upon the tremendous milestone. “I reiterate our commitment to supporting processes aimed at building a Uganda where citizens are empowered to engage on democratic governance and where the state upholds citizens’ rights,” he said.
The Vice-Chancellor Prof Barnabas Nawangwe applauded the School of Women and Gender studies of the comprehensive research on gender equality.
He said that Makerere through the School of Women and Gender Studies has demonstrated a strong commitment to ensuring gender equality in University.
“We have put in place a well-established Gender and Mainstreaming Directorate to mainstream gender in the University functions and propel the struggle for gender justice at Makerere University and beyond. Through the School of Women and Gender Studies, we have been able to address gender and development issues from an African perspective. We introduced the affirmative action to encourage girl child education and we are recently working on the various strategies of encouraging girls to engage in STEM” he explained.