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At a dialogue held in Kampala on 20th March 2019, the European Union and Ugandan civil society organisations (CSOs) stressed that while there had been progress in recent years, much more needs to be done to realise gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls in Uganda.
Over fifty participants from civil society, the EU Delegation, EU Member States and UN agencies in Uganda actively engaged in the dialogue, which focussed on how social protection, public services and sustainable infrastructure can empower women and girls and reduce gender imbalances in Uganda.
Participants agreed that the problem of gender inequality is an inherently political one and that improved coordination between development actors was needed if progress is to be made. At a technical level, the provision of affordable child care, proper sanitation in schools and clean cooking stoves were identified as some of the viable solutions that can directly improve the lives of women and girls.
EU Ambassador to Uganda H.E. Attilio Pacifici highlighted the EU's existing support to women's empowerment in the agricultural sector through the Development Initiative for Northern Uganda (DINU) and forthcoming support for anti-gender-based violence projects through the European Instrument for Democracy and Human Rights (EIDHR). Ambassador Pacifici also informed participants of the Euro 20 million EU-UN Spotlight initiative to eliminate violence against women and girls which will start to be implemented in Uganda as soon as Government endorsement will have been received.
In his remarks, the Executive Director of the Uganda National NGO Forum, Mr. Richard Ssewakiryanga emphasised the importance of recognising the power dynamics that still impede progress on achieving true equality for women in Uganda.
The dialogue also benefitted from three expert presentations on social protection, public services and sustainable infrastructure.
Ms. Sheila Kaawamara-Mishambi, the Executive Director of the Initiative for the Advancement of Women (EASSI), tackled the topic of sustainable development and highlighted the consequences of a lack of social protection for women, including increased rates of early child marriage and the need for women to rely economically on their men, even when they are in abusive relationships.
The link between access to public services and gender equality was explored by Ms. Isabella, Akiteng, Head of Programmes at Femme Forte, who raised the issue of public services, such as health and education, being delivered by private companies in Uganda. Finally, Mr. Julius Mukunda, the Executive Director of the Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG), tackled the issue of sustainable infrastructure, highlighting how, when poorly designed, road construction projects have led to an increase in rates of sexual abuse, HIV/AIDS infections and teenage pregnancy.
In conclusion, participants at the dialogue agreed that all partners in development need to work much more closely together in a spirit of trust, if these issues are to be effectively addressed. Participants also called for increased budget allocations to social sectors in Uganda.
The EU Delegation will continue is close engagement with civil society in the coming months, and will seek to take forward some of the ideas that emerged in this dialogue through its development cooperation and technical and political engagement with the Government of Uganda.
See in full:
/file/hodspeech-structureddialogue20march2019version19march2019pdf_enSpeech by Ambassador Attilio Pacifici.pdf