Uganda aspires to become a middle income country by the year 2020. For this goal to be achieved, there needs to be job creation and sustainable development. This cannot be done without equitable distribution of resources among all of Uganda’s society. Several Members of Parliament (MPs) have vowed to query gender issues and gaps in sectors as they assess plans and budget proposals in their various committees of Parliament.
Each year, Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE) analyzes the National Budget Framework Paper (NBFP) to determine whether the concerns of women, poor and marginalized people are incorporated into the
budget priorities. FOWODE also makes suggestions on how the budget can be gender sensitive to ensure that women are not left behind, as has usually been the case. The NBFP is utilized by the government to implement its policies and provides links between the government’s overall policies and the annual budget. The three major objectives of the 2018/19 NBFP are to achieve the sustainable development goals, make Uganda a middle income country by 2020 and make Uganda’s economy competitive.
The NBFP for FY 2018/19 is currently under review by the sector committees of Parliament, which will present their recommendations to the Speaker by February 1st 2018. There are a number of sectors undergoing budget cuts in the 2018/19 NBFP. Such sectors include health, security, accountability and justice, law and order; sectors that have a major impact on women. It is against this background that FOWODE and Uganda Parliamentary Women’s Association (UWOPA) organized a half day round table lobby and advocacy meeting to present and discuss key issues and gaps that should be prioritized in the upcoming budget as well as gender and equity budgeting. The objectives of the meeting were to draw attention to critical gender and equity issues in the sectors of health, education, agriculture, trade, energy, natural resources and lobby parliamentarians to hold the respective Ministries, Departments and Agencies accountable for gender and equity commitments.
The facilitator for this meeting Margaret Kakande, gave a presentation on the challenges being faced during the budget review process as well as the issues that still need to be addressed. She expressed concern over the equity issues that remain unattended to and pointed out that despite many sectors achieving passing grades by the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), they still have many gaps.
Ms. Kakande highlighted some of the challenges facing the economy such as increased poverty levels, fewer skilled professionals, climate change that has led to food insecurity, population growth, sluggish economic growth, influx of refugees, low productivity and unemployment.
It was clear from Ms. Kakande’s presentation that all the sectors had several issues to address in order to be gender and equity responsive. In the education sector for instance, there is a lot of focus on Science and Technology. However, Science and Technology has very few females which means boys are the main focus and girls are essentially left out. In the health sector, maternal deaths are still relatively high and family services are not always available. In the agriculture sector, funds are usually returned to treasury.
Throughout this session, the MPs made a number of recommendations including:
With all these gaps and challenges identified, UWOPA Chairperson Honorable Monicah Amoding closed the meeting by vowing to continue working with the EOC to come up with specific solutions for the committees. She also thanked FOWODE for continuously making an impact on the budget process and for making gender issues a part of the discussion.