|The National Gender Policy (Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development - Uganda, 1997, 23 p.)|
1.1 The aim of this policy is to guide and direct at all levels, the planning, resource allocation and implementation of development programmes with a gender perspective.
The emphasis on gender is based on the recognition of "gender" as a development concept in identifying and understanding the social roles and relations of women and men of all ages, and how these impact on development. Sustainable development necessitates maximum and equal participation of both gender in economic, political, civil and social-cultural development.
1.2 Uganda is a patriarchal society where men are the dominant players in decision making, although women shoulder most reproductive, productive and community management responsibilities, many of which are not remunerated or reflected in national statistics.
The lower status of women, in comparison to men is due to gender imbalances that arise from the unequal opportunities and access to and control over productive resources and benefits.
1.3 Statistics show that although women in Uganda constitute 70% to 80% of the agricultural labour force, only 7% own land and only 30% have access to and control over proceeds. Women's productivity is further hampered by inadequate access to credit and general lack of skills and appropriate technology due to high level of illiteracy, poverty and inadequate flow of and access to information. Few women get loans from the traditional financial institutions because they do not have collateral. A survey on women's participation in the Rural Farmers Scheme of Uganda Commercial Bank (1992) revealed that of the 27,233 women who applied for assistance as individuals, only 5,117 were assisted; of the women who applied in groups totalling 1,616, only 335 women groups were assisted; and of mixed groups consisting 50% women, the bank assisted only 727 groups out of 2,116 which applied.
1.4 In the education sector, gender imbalances are evident in the literacy rates as well as in access to education. The Population and Housing census (1991) shows that 61.3% of females are illiterate as compared to 38.7% males. This shows that women comprise of the greatest proportion of the illiterate population. According to the Education Review Commission report, primary level enrolment is almost 80% for both sexes, but female participation progressively wastes away leaving approximately 22.8% to enter University and other tertiary institutions.
Female entrance to Makerere University has only been boosted through affirmative action, that gives an additional 1.5 point bonus to the total score of female entrants. This has enabled more females to enter the University, currently recorded at 33% of the total enrolment.
1.5 Gender imbalances are equally evident in the health sector. Uganda's health indicators reveal that the health status of the population, particularly that of women and children is poor. This is partly attributed to the long standing wars which resulted in the destruction of infrastructure, and the deterioration of the health care system.
According to the Population and Housing census (1991), the life expectancy stands at 50.5 and 45.7 for women and men respectively. The Demographic Health Survey (1995) puts the fertility rate at 6.9% and the Maternal Mortality Rate at 506 per 100,000 live births. Infant Mortality is estimated at 97 deaths per 1,000 live births. In addition, the HIV/AIDS pandemic has compounded the situation as the number one killer among the adult population (15 - 45 years) according to the Uganda AIDS Commission (1993) report.
1.6 According to the Uganda Manpower Survey of 1988, women make up about 20% of formal sector employment and are mainly concentrated in lower paid jobs. Women in the skilled workers category, comprise only 26% of the total number of women in the formal sector.
To date, decision making is still predominantly a male domain. At ministerial level, 6 ministers out of a total of 54 Ministers arc women giving a percentage of 11.1%. In the Civil Service, at Permanent Secretary level, women make up only 19.4% of the total number in this cadre while out of 39 Chief Administrative Officers (CAO's) 5 are women. There are 51 women representatives in Parliament constituting, 18.5% while in the Constituent Assembly, the body that formulated the recent constitution had 51 women (17.8%) out of the total of 286 delegates.
1.7 Measures have been taken to promote the participation of women in decision making positions. The mandatory position for women in the local governance structure has improved women's participation in the Local Councils. The 1995 Constitution provides for 1/3 (a third) of these positions to be filled by women. In addition, women have been empowered to contest for other posts at this level.
The National Gender Policy shall form a legal framework and mandate for every stakeholder to address the gender imbalances within their respective sectors.