Women leaders have met to discuss ways of recovering from the covid-19 challenges experienced by women and girls, navigate measures of enhancing their development and protecting their rights, as part of the Women’s Day celebrations.
During the ‘Women Leaders Colloquium’ hosted by Oxfam Uganda and Uganda Women’s Network (UWONET) on Friday, women entrepreneurs, elected leaders, female government technocrats among others, joined together to address women’s challenges encountered amidst the pandemic.
Speaking at the event, Rita Aciro, Executive Director UWONET, noted that although most people were affected by the pandemic, the effects have had far-reaching impacts on women and girls.
“We know that during the lockdown, many girls were defiled, many have dropped out of school since then and many have been married off. Many women have also lost jobs because some of them were working in sectors that were completely shut down during the lockdown,” she said.
Working with government and other stakeholders, Aciro said, women, in their different spaces, should be able to recover from this.
“Times have changed and we can no longer do things the way we used to do them. We have to do side hustles, need to become more creative in business,” she said.
Most of the women during the event raised a concern of the difficulties in banking.
Elliot Orizaarwa Tumwijukye, ED Women and Girl Child Development Association (WEGDA), said that there’s need to have a bank that will accommodate all women, since most women have no collateral.
Aciro also said that although a women’s bank exists, (Uganda Women’s Finance Trust), it needs to be revived in terms of injecting more capital for more individuals to borrow from.
“Many of our women do not have collateral; don’t own that much land in this country and neither do they have the type of businesses that could support them to get bank loans,” she said.
Representing Oxfam’s Country Director, Jane Ocaya said that with other actors, they (OXFAM) have tried to influence policy to ensure that particular areas which are thought important are given priority.
According to her, more focus should be put on women-centred development.
“One of the important lessons that we have learnt from this situation is moving forward in terms of planning and we need to have a more people-centred focus on planning and resource allocation,” she said.
Progress in promoting women’s rights
Hon Pamela Nasiyo, Budaka woman MP and Chairperson Uganda Women Parliamentary Association, said that so far, two bills have been passed; the succession amendment bill 2018 and the Employment bill.
According to her, the absence of the succession bill was causing problems in families, especially when one of the heads died.
“When looking at the succession amendment bill, we were looking at sharing of property and ownership of property. Out of 100%, we reserved 20% for children for their maintenance; on the remaining 80%, 20 % is given to the surviving spouse, 75% to the lineal descendants (relatives), 4% to the dependants of the deceased, and 1% to the heir or heirless,” she explained.
Hon Nasiyo said that the employment amendment bill looks at the protection of mothers; such as creating breastfeeding spaces, protecting workers like basic and casual labourers among others.