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PRICELESS PREPARATIONS

Sharon Nabafu’s Story.

‘’Mind boggling’’, that’s how Sharon describes the multiple ideas she experienced in her life daily. Sharon had just given birth to her baby. A lawyer by training, Sharon thought a lot about how she could help women achieve their full rights. A friend thought the leadership camp would be the perfect push to help Sharon figure out her ideas. The opportunity was exciting but Sharon was worried about how she would go about the baby. FOWODE surprised her, all arrangements were taken care of and Sharon, her baby and nanny were accepted. According to Sharon, this is a way of making sure that women are not forced to miss out on developmental opportunities because their child care responsibilities are real and should not have to be compromised or minimized.

Sharon thrived at the camp, she met many iconic women leaders and was able to interact with them and get rich knowledge and advice. One of the sessions that stood out for her was on personal branding and marketing. Sharon learnt how to seize every moment to communicate her strengths and share what she has to offer in the shortest time possible. During the training on passing job interviews, Sharon learnt how to posture herself, capture the attention of interviewers and share relevant facts about her experience to win them over.

“After the camp I was invited for an interview by Wilkens Property Services. It was as though I had transformed into another person.

I was confident, I talked about my character and experience and took care to match my points with the job description. I passed the interview with flying colors and I knew in my heart that if I had done   this interview before the camp I would have failed miserably. Today I am the in-house lawyer at Wilkens Property Services. I am no longer the Sharon that used to be overwhelmed with several ideas. I work on these ideas and take action immediately. My dream is to offer free legal services to the girls in my home town (Manafwa) and also form a local organization to promote equal opportunities especially for girls. I am so grateful to FOWODE for the knowledge they gave me. It is priceless”.

2020 UACE RESULTS: GOVERMENT MUST SUPPORT GIRLS TO OFFER SCIENCES

By Elizabeth Ampairwe.

 

Results of the 2020 Uganda Advanced Certificate of Education (UACE) examinations released in August made for frustrating reading from the perspective of the advancement of the girl-child.

From the results, there were 56,440 male and 40,782 female candidates meaning that there was 15,658 more male than female candidates who sat the exams. This statistic is, in and of itself, a damning indictment on the struggle for the attainment of gender equality in the critical aspect of education.

What is particularly worrying is that the performance of girls in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) is still glaringly poor. Of the 2020 UACE candidates, only 26.7 percent females sat for Mathematics, 6.9 percent for Physics, 13.2 percent for Chemistry, and 12.3 percent for Biology.

Female candidates performed better than their male counterparts at the principal level pass (A-E) in Arts (Humanities), Mathematics, and Physics. Male candidates were better in Agriculture, Chemistry, Biology, Art, and General Paper.

Other subjects in which the percentage of female candidates who passed with As being higher than that of their male counterparts are History, Entrepreneurship, Education, Christian Religious Education, and Geography. These are all Humanities.

For us at the Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE), the failure of the government to put in place a conducive environment to enable the girl-child to progress in uptake of science courses is particularly concerning. It is in the nation’s best interest that there is gender equality in all areas of life.

Our vision is to have a country where there is equality of opportunity and participation for both boys and girls; an objective that cannot be achieved when the latter is being left behind in the uptake of science courses at “A” Level and University.

Uganda is a signatory to many global frameworks that emphasize equal access to quality education including; the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Sustainable Development Goals.

It is, therefore, disturbing that even with such binding conventions, the government has failed to put in place systems to support the education of the girl-child, especially in science courses.

What is clear is that gender stereotyping still permeates our education system where some subjects-especially science subjects, are considered masculine while Arts subjects are considered feminine.

Most importantly, the government and all other stakeholders should take a keen interest in the gender imbalance in science enrolment beyond the compulsory level because it can have negative implications for the quality of life of the girl-child and socio-economic transformation.

As a solution, the government should lower the admission points at which girls are enrolled for science courses compared to boys. Article 32 of the 1995 Constitution of Uganda provides that, “the state shall take affirmative action in favor of groups marginalized based on gender, age, disability or any other reason created by history, tradition or custom, to redress imbalances which exist against them.” It follows, therefore, that our constitutional dispensation, alive to the unique challenges girls face, places a duty on the state to put in place concrete measures to address the kind of challenges we see in the education sector as exemplified by the results.

The government must put in place interventions that empower the girl child to venture into the field of science. Girls must be motivated to have an interest in science courses right from the primary school level.

Government should explore the option of affirmative action for girls studying sciences at tertiary and lower institutions of learning. In addition to the 1.5 bonus points offered to girls joining public universities, the admission points for girls offering sciences at University should be lowered compared to that of boys.

Government has to ensure that the unique demands of girls are taken care of, for them to naturally take on science courses. The government should address concerns around a sexist curricula and syllabi, teaching material, and sexist language in tutoring.

There must be a deliberate effort by the government to banish long-standing gender stereotypes around science courses. Clearly, without girls attaining quality education in the field of sciences, attainment of the much-touted middle-income status will remain a pipe dream for our country.

The writer, Elizabeth Ampairwe is the Director of Programs at the Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE).

 

A version of this article was published by www.pmdaily.com on 31st  August 2021

2019/2020 HOUSEHOLD SURVEY: GOV'T MUST DOUBLE EFFORTS TO FIGHT POVERTY

By Elizabeth Ampairwe.

The Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) recently released the 2019/20 Uganda National Household Survey (UNHS), the seventh in a series of household surveys conducted by UBOS. We, at the Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE) whose work revolves around the pursuit of a fair and equitable society for both men and women, always look forward to these surveys because they are a useful source of socio-economic data; and such data is used in the generation of key indicators with particular focus on household welfare. As it is said, the devil is in the details.

Accordingly, we note that the findings in the 2019/2020 National Household Survey paint a bleak picture of a country that requires robust government interventions.

What has been clear since the 2020 onset of the COVID-19 pandemic is that household incomes have been severely hurt, anti-poverty gains achieved over the past 10 years have been erased while livelihoods have suffered a devastating blow.

Containment and mitigation measures meant to curb the spread of the deadly virus have exacerbated the situation.

From the findings of the National Household Survey, perhaps the most damning revelation is that the incidence of income poverty increased during Covid-19 from 19 % to 22%. The increase in poverty was more pronounced in rural areas especially in Karamoja, Acholi, Bukedi, and Busoga sub-region. The number of poor people increased from 8 million to 8.3 million.

More worrying is the fact that there is a poverty spillover from urban to rural areas because of declining remittances.

Put simply, because incomes for urban dwellers have been eaten into by the pandemic, they no longer can afford to remit money to their relatives in the villages-effectively locking them further in poverty.

Some studies have found out that such a type of spillover increases the national poverty rate by 1.4 and 1.3 percentage points in urban and rural areas, respectively – accounting for about one-third of the crisis’ total impact on poverty.

From the Household survey, it is rather concerning that sub-regions that have historically been affected by economic disparities are faring worse. The majority of the poor people are in Busoga (14%) followed by Bukedi (10.4%) and Acholi (10.3%) sub-region.

The Acholi sub-region suffered decades of the insurgency while Busoga has long been ravaged by famine and fluctuating sugar cane prices.

The National Household Survey is pretty much representative because it provides representative estimates for the country as a whole across the rural-urban and regional divide.

Poverty increased in Acholi from 33% in 2017 to 68% in 2020, Ankole from 7% to 12%, Karamoja from 60% to 66%, Kigezi from 12% to 28%, Tooro from 11% to 13% and North Buganda from 11% to 14%.

Other sub-groups were considered during data analysis and these included: Comparison of the situation before and during Covid-19 pandemic, Peace and Recovery Development Plan (PRDP) Districts, and Mountainous Districts.

Some other indicators show that things are not getting any better.
What is even more concerning is the gap between the women and men of this country. In literacy rates for persons aged 18 years and above, females still lag with 66% compared to males who are at 67%.

Overall, seven in every ten households in 2019/20 used firewood for cooking. Though unstated in the survey, most of the cooking using firewood is likely done by women with its attendant health dangers like indoor air pollution.

For instance, health insurance coverage is at 4%, down from 5% in 2019. To alleviate the effects of poverty, the government must put in place social safety nets to protect the poor and vulnerable from further sliding into destitution.

The intervention by the government led to the distribution of Shs. 100,000 to vulnerable persons in urban municipalities should be commended. However, that was a drop in the ocean.

At a macro-level, government needs to engage commercial banks to restructure loan payments and save stressed businesses and individuals from collapse.

These and more interventions are necessary to help the country’s populace overcome the challenges that abound and ensure long-term socio-economic stability.

Elizabeth Ampairwe is the Director of Programs at Forum for Women in Democracy.

A version of this article was published by www.pmdaily.com on 20th August 2021

CHANGING THE NARRATIVE BY ENGAGING MALE CHAMPIONS

By Justus Abitekaniza.

Gender balance in the decision-making processes is critical for gender and development. However, this can only be achieved if men work side by side with women to share the responsibility in breaking the harmful cultural norms and practices as well as the social structural barriers that hinder women’s equal and influential participation in entrepreneurship and politics.

FOWODE has continued to support proactive work by male champions as a necessary approach to put in place a favorable environment, with a leveled ground for women’s participation at all stages of decision making. These male champions have helped in enhancing the appreciation of more men within the communities about the importance of human rights in general and women’s rights in particular. In this way, they have built a cadre of gender-sensitive men who will contribute to the promotion and protection of human rights and continue to advance the gender agenda.

Kayodi Christopher has been a male champion for four years in Zirobwe Sub County in Luwero district. He has talked to over 200 men in the sub-county and modeled over 60 of them. Under the Women’s Economic and Political Empowerment project (WEPE), Kayodi was refreshed with new tactics through training on how best to model more men especially the youth.

Kaamu Kalanzi, 28, and Namubiru Sharifa, 25 are a happy couple that has been together for 3 years now. They are one of the young families that have been mentored by Kayodi Christopher. They confirm that they are benefiting from equal sharing of responsibilities and shared decision-making.

Kalanzi explains that they have both set up individual projects for growth but equally support each other. Sharifa, who runs and manages a poultry project is proud of her husband who, seemingly is different from other men. She adds that she has allowed her to have full control of the poultry project and this has enabled them to catch up with the demands of life.

“Many people admire us. We never fight. We share responsibilities according to who is available for what. When he is cooking, I fetch the water for the poultry and home use. We do not have a child yet but I hope he will be a good dad. Papa Kayodi has done us good” explained Sharifa.

The male champions have not only led to men’s enhanced knowledge and understanding of gender and women’s rights but have also created a change of attitudes and men’s behaviors towards gender issues.

“The constant engagements from Papa Kayodi Christopher- have opened my mind to realize that the old traditions and attitudes are no longer relevant and valid in modern days. The consequences are greater these days if you continue disrespecting women and keeping them behind. If she is engaged in constructive work, it’s the family as a whole that benefits” Kalanzi adds.