Feb2008 final

International Women’s Day 2008: How far are Ugandan Women and girls being invested in? The theme for 2008 International Women's Day is: ‘Investing in Women and Girls’. The celebration will have an intense focus on financing for gender equality at the country level. In Uganda, women comprise 24% of Parliament and 40% of Local Council leaders which is a considerable framework to promote women’s visibility and voice in decision making, rather than an end in itself. Although there is a Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development (MOGLSD) which among others caters for women issues, there are no commensurate financial resources to local women’s councils under its authority, which are supposed to assess women needs (PeaceWomen, 2005). In addition, patterns of gender inequality begin at school level when government funding for schools does not cover all the expenses – forcing rural schools to charge fees. This leads to ‘education preference’ being given to boys courtesy of some merciless culturally held norms
ad practices that disfavor girls (UNDP, MDG 2007 report). PeaceWomen (2005) also note that the primary education system is further burdened by lack of feeding programmes, overcrowded classes and schools that sometimes lack separate toilets for boys and girls. This makes life awkward for menstruating girls, unable to afford sanitary towels, and some can miss classes for up to 4 days on average. Other challenges to investing in women and girls in Uganda relate to the problematic issue of female genital mutilation where a separate legislation for its outlaw is needed; challenges facing girls and women in the war torn northern Uganda, lack of access to financial resources and land for women, and lack of specific laws governing domestic violence despite the three year debate on the Domestic relations Bill (that would address social and cultural injustices women face in marriage) without any conclusive outcome.