Advocates push for presidential approval of Employment Amendment Bill 2022

Women's rights advocates have urged the President to give approval to the Employment Amendment Bill 2022, a measure aimed at providing support to new mothers in fulfilling their maternity responsibilities.

They emphasise the Bill's significance in upholding a woman's right to breastfeed.

In May of this year, Parliament passed the 2022 Employment Amendment Bill, which grants recognition to casual labourers who have served continuously for six months as having a valid contract.

However, legislators rejected a proposal to extend maternity leave from 60 to 90 days.

Originally, the Bill's drafters suggested that if an employer hired a casual labourer for six consecutive months, the employer should offer a contract to the labourer if they wished to continue working and provide employment benefits.

Workers' representatives argue that this provision was designed to protect the rights of casual workers who often experience exploitation through receiving wages lower than agreed upon.

These statements were made alongside the government's launch of a campaign to promote gender equality in household chores and ensure a fair distribution of unpaid care work between spouses.

This initiative is a response to the United Nations General Assembly's resolution to commemorate the International Day of Care and Support, with the goal of addressing the burden of unpaid care and domestic work on women and girls.

In Uganda, the Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development officially launched the Day on Monday, recognising the value of care work and the essential role of care workers.

Sheila Ariiho, Senior Women in Development Officer from the Ministry of Gender, acknowledged the social and economic impact of unpaid care work on women and girls.

She emphasized that this work often goes unrecognized and limits women's opportunities for economic empowerment and overall well-being.

While the International Day of Care and Support will not be declared a public holiday, it will be observed nationally on October 29th each year, similar to other important days such as the 16 Days of Activism and Rural Women's Day.

Suzan Acen, the program coordinator women's rights and access to justiceĀ  at UWONET highlighted the progress made in recognizing the importance of unpaid care and domestic work.

She called for efforts to address unfair arrangements regarding paid and unpaid care work to create an environment that supports women's economic autonomy and the well-being of care workers and the communities they serve.

Regina Bafaki, Executive Director of Action for Development and UWONET Board Member, urged stakeholders to effectively communicate the campaign's message to different groups of people.

She emphasised that the discourse surrounding care work has shifted, leading to its recognition by the UN as the International Day of Care and Support.

Jane Ocaya-Irama, Women's Rights Advisor at OXFAM in Uganda, stressed the need to view care as a social good rather than a burden in order to achieve gender equality and women's empowerment.

She attributed gender inequality in leadership positions and economic empowerment in Uganda to cultural and religious norms that enforce an unequal distribution of unpaid care work.

Ocaya-Irama expressed optimism that empowering women economically will contribute to sustainable gender equality and economic development.

The United Nations recognizes the commemoration of the International Day of Care and Support as crucial in promoting the rights of caregivers and care recipients.

They acknowledge the increasing demand for care work due to global ageing trends and stress the importance of investing in a robust, gender-responsive, disability-inclusive, and age-sensitive care and support system.

According to a 2019 survey conducted by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS), men spend more time on productive work compared to women.

Additionally, women spend significantly more time on unpaid work.

Stakeholders are advocating for a fair distribution of unpaid care work between husbands and wives to enable women to participate more fully in the labour market.

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