By Watchdog reporter
Makerere female dons have urged the Government to prioritise women issues as the Uganda aspires to become a middle income country.
Ahead of the International Women’s Day this Wednesday, the dons advised government to put more emphasis on issues affecting women especially education, health and leadership.
Uganda has an ambitious plan of attaining middle income status by 2020.
Associate Prof Consolata Kabonesa, at makerere University’s School of Women and Gender studies as well as Sida Gender Mainstreaming Project coordinator, says women play a vital role in all the country’s major sectors such as education, health, agriculture, business as well as leadership.
She said the government cannot talk of achieving total emancipation unless women are economically empowered.
“Despite some efforts to promote women empowerment, women today still suffer discrimination in some sectors and leadership positions while others are harassed at their places of work,” she says.
Prof Kabonesa decried women who still die while giving birth.
She called upon government to equip hospitals with equipment and medicine to avoid excuses from medical workers.
“A number of women are dying daily countrywide in hospitals. Government needs to put more money in hospitals and the health sector at large so that medicine and other materials needed are put in hospitals. This will enable health practitioners to be able to do their jobs, save the life of women and unborn,” she adds.
Dr Evelyn Lutwama, a lecturer at the school of women and gender studies said issues the government should pay more attention to include participation of women in leadership. She says there should be structures by government to encourage more women to join politics.
Despite the free primary and secondary education, Dr Lutwama says girl child education is still a challenge.
According to her, the retention level for girls in schools is very low because of sexual harassment and poor sanitation in some schools.
Dr Florence Ebila, another lecturer of women and gender studies, says women leadership need to be enhanced in order to promote gender issues.
“Currently, we need more women who can articulate women related issues because they will be role models to those coming up and government should strive to end gender based violence,” she says.
Women make a very big contribution to agriculture not only in labour but also production of food and cash crops. To Dr Ebila, the burden carried by women is not rewarded; they are still subsistence producers and have not captured the benefits of value addition.
She says women need to be empowered to add value to what is produced and eliminate the middlemen to get more profits from their produces.
“Government should extend agriculture credit to women, we have embraced irrigation as the way to go but not many women will afford the irrigation equipment. Government should find a way of helping such women who have dedicated their time to agriculture,” she adds.
Gender identity week
As part of the activities to commemorate International Women’s Day, Makerere University has organised a week filled with activities to celebrate the day.
Dubbed the Gender Identity Week, the university’s school of women and gender studies, have lined up prominent women leaders in the country such as Miria Matembe to dialogue on a number of issues affecting women.
Among topics up for discussion include women in leadership, family planning, ICT and gender, sexualisation of the body, sexually abused women on kyeyo, social media and gender based violence among others.