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Gender and Equity Non-Compliance and what it could mean for Uganda

Published 3 months ago - 8


Principles of gender and equity are primary to achieving social justice in terms of rights, access to resources or representation in decision making for many marginalised demographics world over. The same principles are fundamental to achieving sustainable economic development and the government has not minced its words on its zeal to realise middle income status by 2020. As an end goal, Uganda aspires to have equitable and inclusive growth with all Ugandans contributing despite gender, physical ability, and socio-economic wellbeing

Several reforms have been approved in this regard but one stands out; the certificate of Gender and Equity for Ministries Departments and agencies (MDAs) issued by the Ministry of Finance Planning and Economic Development (MoFPED) upon the advice of the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC). Certification requires that any MDA seeking appropriation of the National Budget meets the minimum requirements of gender and equity budgeting and has scored at least 50% in the assessment by the EOC. In other words, deliberate efforts ought to be made to ensure gender and equity compliance as provided for under the legal framework of the Public Finance Management Act, 2015 (PFMA).

Well into the third year of implementation of the Act, the EOC presented the assessment results for Ministerial Policy Statements submitted by 139 MDAs for financial year 2017/18 to the Speaker as well as the Budget committee of Parliament. The overall performance reported stands at 50% representing a 3% decline from that of the financial year ending. Also 36 agencies performed below the 50% threshold. 90% of the worst performing MDAs included missions and consulates abroad[1], three institutions of higher learning[2], the Coffee Development Authority, Uganda Aids Commission as well as Lira Referral Hospital. While the PFMA provides for the existence of the certificate, it does not explicitly provide for penalties or sanctions for non-compliance. Section 78 just provides for the Minister responsible to provide a statement explaining why, however, the budget committee resolved not to supply for such MDAs.

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The NDP II upholds human capital development, as one of two fundamental enablers for socio-economic transformation of Uganda. Education and health care are complementing factors to the other contributors. The three institutions of higher learning reported as non-compliant pose a threat to Uganda’s development agenda especially when the country is two years shy of the intended 2020 middle income date. Universities produce a sizable number of Uganda’s employment pool (the current high rates of unemployment notwithstanding.) In addition, one of the country’s flagship affirmative action policies is the 1.5 extra points for girls at this level is implemented by universities. It is unfortunate that the same are falling short of the basic gender and equity requirements as prescribed by law. Lira hospital provides for the healthy wellbeing of persons especially those in the West Nile sub-region. A healthy and educated workforce is paramount to provide meaningful contribution to GDP and eventual growth.

I need not mention the role of the Uganda AIDs Commission in combating the HIV/AIDS scourge.  The commission whose mandate is to oversee, plan and coordinate AIDS protection and control activities through­out Uganda is also culprit. Uganda’s impressive streak in the fight against HIV/AIDS has dwindled over the years. The indicators[3]; HIV prevalence between the ages of 15 to 49 years stands at 7.3%[4] (an increase from 6.4% in 2005), with that of women being 8.3% compared to 6.1% for men. In addition, the increase in prevalence amongst adolescents (15-19 years) is 0.3-1.7%  for boys and 2.6-3.0% for girls; the estimated number of people eligible for antiretroviral treatment (ART) is 1.4 million; Among the youth aged 15 – 24 years of age, only 39.5% of the males and 38.1% of the female had comprehensive knowledge of HIV/AIDS, of the disease burden require that the commission plans/budgets better using gender aggregated data to encompass the peculiarities of each gender.

Embassies, missions and consulates abroad that are or are supposed to be the first line of contact of the nucleus that is Uganda in the globalized world. I cannot over emphasize the need of maintaining a diplomatic presence overseas because in addition to providing insight into what is going on in the host country they must explain Ugandan policies, identify potential threats to and opportunities for the countries interests, and also provide political and economic analysis of local conditions to inform decision-making. The increase in globalization and consequent levels of migration or externalisation of labour has also given rise to the problem of human trafficking and incidents of abuse of foreign workers. Embassies are supposed to provide, these citizens with Consular services as well as a valuable layer of protection.

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For the case of the Coffee Development Authority, I will leave that to the Office Auditor General, because the office is best suited to decipher the myriad of problems it is facing over and above gender and equity compliance.

If Parliament follows through with its decision not to supply, one can only imagine the innumerable challenges to follow. The budget committee has deemed this the due sanction or penalty for non-compliant MDAs, therefore it’s imperative that efforts are made to comply. But this brings forward an important query: how does the law treats noncompliance? Is there room for such MDAs to weasel their way out of the sanction due to the absence of a clear legal provision?

Noncompliance also points to a more disturbing issue, if, with a sea of legal and policy frameworks some government institutions still trivialize the need for equity and gender equality in the distribution of resources, one can only imagine how this translates at implementation level. This undermines inclusive development which is at the core of achieving our development agenda.

[1] Tanzania, Ethiopia, DR Congo, Denmark, Somalia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, China, Sudan, Rwanda, Germany, Washington, Ankara, Russia, Juba, Japan, Geneva, Nigeria, Italy, Belgium, Iran, Bujumbura, Canada, Canberra, Libya, England, France and New York

[2] Makerere University, Mbarara University and Kabale University

[3] UAIS 2011

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