By: Ismael Kasooha
The Prime Minister Rt. Hon. Nabbanja Robinah has said that Economic empowerment is the foundation of independence and decision making.
“An economically empowered woman who has an income and has money in her pocket is able to make choices that enable her and her family to have self-esteem and dignity. So any interventions meant to empower women economically is the right way to go,” said Nabbanja.
Nabbanja made the remarks on Wednesday while speaking at the opening of the regional retreat for women leaders at Lake Victoria Hotel in Entebbe.
“Ladies and gentlemen, economic empowerment is also one of the ways of fighting gender based violence. Most women find themselves in abusive relationships simply because they are financially vulnerable. Others fear or fail to report abuse or sexual and other forms of violence because the perpetrators buy them off or intimidate them,” said Nabbanja.
The women leaders under their umbrella organization International Conference on Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) regional women leaders’ forum are meeting in Uganda to come up.
The women want to formulate a strategic plan to empower women in the 12 member states.
Nabbanja said that in Uganda, the Government has over the years implemented programs with a strong bias towards supporting women economic empowerment.
She said that one such program is the Parish Development Model, an initiative with several pillars aimed at ensuring that the 39 percent of our population who live from hand to mouth, majority of whom are women, are able to join the money economy.
Under this program, which goes to the Parish, the lowest level of organization, over 50 percent of the funds being given out are earmarked for women.
“We are taking this PDM as a game changer that will leave our people completely transformed,” said Nabbanja.
She said that the theme of this retreat of “Strengthening the Regional Women’s Forum Institutional capacity” is timely and relevant.
“Friends, as women leaders, we have a heavy responsibility to provide an example to the younger generation to show them that with determination and focus, nothing is impossible,” advised Nabbanja.
This retreat has come at a time when there is great need for Regional Integration and strengthening of women movement across the region.
“In Uganda, anything to do with women empowerment, is our priority. Our President, HE Yoweri Kaguta Museveni and the NRM Government have consistently supported and promoted the empowerment of women through institutional, policy, legal and political related measures,” added the Premier.
At the political level, Nabbanja informed the visiting women leaders that the leadership of President Yoweri Museveni pioneered affirmative action by introducing measures to encourage girls to go to school and providing additional points for female students to join university and other tertiary institutions.
“The understanding was that when you educate a woman, you will have educated the nation. That affirmative action has over the years led to increasing numbers of women in engineering, law, education, medicine, social sciences, and other disciplines,” said Nabbanja.
She reminded the leaders that as early as the 1990s, Uganda had the first female Vice President in Africa in the name of Dr. Specioza Wandera Kazibwe which was a major milestone in women empowerment.
“As we speak today, the Vice President is a woman, the Speaker of Parliament is a Woman, the Prime Minister is a woman, the two deputy Prime Ministers are women and the list goes on and on,” said Nabbanja.
She asked women leaders to always identify and propose policies that will pull our women out of poverty.
With these remarks, it is my pleasure to declare this retreat open.
Charles Mayuta, the coordinator for the women said that Uganda was chosen to host the retreat because of its achievements in women emancipation and empowerment.
“We selected Uganda to host this retreat because it is a champion of promoting women rights, peace and security,” said Mayuta.
She said that they are working with the government of Uganda to ensure that a strategic plan for women promotion is formulated because it has milestones that they can base on for benchmarking.
The retreat has attracted women leaders from several countries in the Great Lakes region such as Burundi, DR Congo, Kenya, Tanzania, Zambia, Rwanda among others.