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

By: Winnie Watera

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.

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.

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