Activists have noted that there is need to ensure total economic empowerment of women in the country as one of the ways to attain the desired development.
Speaking during a dialogue on women in the economy held at Hotel Africana in Kampala under the theme; ‘Break the bias, make women count’, Patricia Munabi, the Executive Director for Forum for Women in Democracy(FOWODE) said whereas there have been some gains for women throughout the years, there are still many challenges.
“There have been many gains especially in the political sphere including especially at the national level but when you go to lower levels, the numbers begin to dwindle. We can want to put women in the political space but unless they are economically empowered, they will not participate as much as you want them to,”Munabi said.
She explained that by economic empowerment, women can ably play a crucial role in shaping and contributing to the country’s development which is not the case now.
“We have found it more beneficial to have more strategic conversations on how women can benefit in the economy by venturing into new areas like public procurement where women have for a long time been left out.”
The FOWODE Executive Director noted the economy can benefit equitably for a sustainable future if women participate as men do in the country’s economics.
According to former Uganda Investment Authority Executive Director Dr. Maggie Kigozi many of the women are into agriculture but noted these are not economically empowered.
“Many of the women don’t have their own land to use for investment but also as a form of collateral to access credit facilities from banks. Many of them depend on their husbands’ land which limits their quest for economic empowerment,” she noted.
According to Dr.Kigozi, there are so many biases and cultures that she said are a stumbling block to the empowerment of women that she noted ought to be broken.
“Many of the women are illiterate and this is because in their families, focus is so much on the boy child. Many of the women lack knowledge on doing business in order to get economically empowered. Those who go to school drop out at the age of 14 due to pregnancies. We need to break such beliefs that are dragging women backwards.”
Advising women, the former UIA Executive Director urged women to think outside the box and start their own businesses , acquire knowledge about different ventures but also looking up to successful women for guidance on how to be self-sustaining.
Uganda Parliamentary Women Association(UWOPA) chairperson and former minister Sarah Opendi said there is need to empower women with knowledge in digital space since it is the new normal to ensure they effectively participate.
Opendi however expressed optimism that the introduction of the Parish Development Model program by government will see many women empowered financially unlike before with other programs.
“In the past, all the programs ended at district level and never trickled down to the parishes and villages and this meant women lost out. However, we hope the Parish Development Model is going to be a game changer in financial inclusion for women,”Opendi said.