Despite improvement in human development indicators in 2000 including the achievement of reducing the incidence HIV/AIDS, insecurity has persisted in some parts of the country causing changes in the regional pattern of poverty. There is also a wide gap between urban and rural areas, where the urban households are mostly much better off.
There are specific groups of women who are likely to be poor, and there are some dimensions of poverty in which women are generally at a disadvantage. Women work longer hours on domestic work, and men work longer hours on economic activities. Male-headed households spend more on alcohol and female-headed households spend more on school fees.
The largest group of poor households in Uganda has consistently been those in agriculture. Recent participatory poverty assessments confirm that poverty is multidimensional, dynamic and contextual.
While women contribute over 80 percent of Uganda’s GDP, provides over half the labor force (mostly informal), are the reproducers of the country, and form over 51 percent of the country’s population, they do not share in the benefits of production.
The media sector is no exception to the trends of women’s marginalization in public life in Uganda. The marginalization occurs at three levels:
- Within the media as a profession.
- The extent to which women and other marginalized groups can access information.
- The negative portrayal of women in the media. Women are relatively few in the media and this has an impact on the nature of coverage on women’s issues in the media as well as women’s access to information.
A UMWA survey done in 1994 on the women’s representation and their portrayal in the media put the percentage of women to men in the media to be at 24 percent. The study established that the media is perceived as a men’s profession because of the long working hours, extensive travel and risks involved. Within the media ranks, influential positions like the editorial boards are male dominated, hence issues are looked at using a male perspective.
However, the number of women in the media have steadly increased since the 90’sby 12 percent thanks to UMWA’s scholarship scheme that benefited young women who enlisted for diploma courses. The graduates later pursued degree courses, most of them in mass communication. Another UMWA survey on the media in Uganda indicates that the first PHD holder in mass communication is a woman who has invested in building the capacity of media women and has also set up media outlets to promote women.
Women’s access to information and ability to utilize the media is limited especially in Africa due to various cultures, social and traditional norms that discriminate against women. In Uganda for instance the literacy level of women low because of lack of education and as result are unable to read available information materials. In cases where other channels of communication are available in a home, for instance a radio, the men control these. They determine what the women can and cannot listen to on radio and sometimes, even move with radio away from home. This as a result affects women’s participation in the decision-making process.
Uganda has made impressive attempts in the Movement Government in formulating gender sensitive policies to positively integrate gender in the mainstream of the development process. There are positive indicators of increased women participation in the legislative and administrative structures and enrolment of girls in school.
The common reasons given for leaving out the voices of the rural women communities are the following: they are never available, they are busy in the fields, they are busy taking care of their children and families, they don’t have the time, and they do not after all understand the issues so it is time wasting”. Although it is true that women are busy taking care of their families and children, an attempt should be made to include them in the policies and programs that affect their lives, as well as those of their families.
Actions that will contribute to reducing gender inequality include:
Participation of women in power and decision making processes.
Strengthen and empower women groups.
Active participation of women in the planning and monitoring processes of public services such as extension services (NAADS), Education (UPE) improving women land rights (to retain control of the incomes).
Fight domestic violence.
Security in Uganda is threatened by internal conflict and conflicts in the great lakes region. Despite the serious and persistent problem of insecurity, Uganda has made significant progress in democratization, decentralization and restoration of the structures of government. Progress on reducing corruption and making government structures accountable has been much slower.
The successes have bred new challenges, as popular demands for enhanced political representation become stronger over time, and internal standards for good governance are made more explicit. The country is transiting from a movement type of government to a multiparty system by 2006.
Issues to pay attention to therefore include:
Strengthen the women participation in the democratization and good governance process.
Project the women voice in ensuring the respect for human rights.
Provide information to increase women accessibility to the legal system.
Ensure transparency, accountability and elimination of corruption.
Enhance women contribution to national, regional and international peace, security, and in the fight against terrorism.
Provide civic education in good time for the 2006 elections and thereafter.
Develop a regular forum for national discussion on conflict resolution.
There has been continued economic growth, which has averaged 6.5 percent per annum since 1990/1991 and 6 percent, between 2000 and 2003. This economic growth has been unequal in the different regions of Uganda (especially the North and East); as a result income poverty has increased from 34 percent to 38 percent between 2000 and 2003 (PEAP: 2004).
According to the Human Poverty Index, an estimated 37 percent of the population still leaves on less than $1 per day. At the international level, Uganda is a signatory to a number of international conventions and regional agreements. The Regional initiatives include the East African Community (EAC) and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD). Among government priorities are: Boosting private sector investment and enhancing private sector skills and business development.
Enhance linkages and information flow for the MSMEs: For example information about access to microfinance, business development services, access to markets, and linkages with government over trading regulations.
Providing information on opportunities government programs offer i.e. Programme for Modernisation of Agriculture (PMA), National Agricultural Advisory Services (NAADS), Mama Package, HIV/AIDS Programmes and Universal Primary Education (UPE).
Business counselling for women entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial skills in partnership with the private sector.
How women entrepreneurs relate to EAC and NEPAD.
Information and Communication technology plays a very important role in the development of the country. The convergence of electronics, computing and telecommunication, known as Information Technology (IT), has unleashed a wave of technological innovation in the collection, storage, processing, transmission and presentation of information. It is by itself a highly dynamic and expanding activity, creating new markets and generating new investments, income and jobs.
There are opportunities in homes and communities having village phones and information kiosks, rural communities being integrated into the global village through tele centers, information communication technology training for women.
Donor Trends and Aid Flows
Growing aid flow to Uganda, including debt relief, through Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiatives. A shift away from project to budget support and sector wide approaches as expressed in the various donor reports USAID/Uganda integrated Strategic Plan 2002-2007, and the DFID in Uganda as well as government statements on aid. The shift from project to budget support has been enabled by increasing government commitment to poverty eradication, enshrined in the poverty reduction strategy paper.
Focusing on the private sector (Small and Medium Enterprises – MSMEs) including small scale farming households, that are responsible for the majority of productive investment. Improving aid effectiveness through building the capacity for proper accountability and utilization including the institutionalization of a sound ant-corruption campaign in a deliberate attempt to curb corruption.
The challenges and opportunities include:
Need for CSOs to market their services.
Information about marketing opportunities for the private sector.
Strong networks able to receive funding, thus minimizing transaction costs of administering small aid.
Increasing competition with private sector contractors as the government tenders out the provision of services.
CSOs may lose their independence and autonomy as they on the Government for contracts.