On International Women’s Day 2023, the Inclusive Green Economy Network-East Africa (IGEN-EA) is calling on the Ugandan government to address barriers that are undermining women’s participation in the green economy.
IGEN-EA is a network of civil society and private sector players whose main objective is to promote inclusive and sustainable green economic growth that addresses climate change and human rights concerns in Uganda and East Africa. IGEN-EA focuses on promoting green economic activities such as clean energy, natural resources, organic agriculture and fisheries as well as tourism.
IGEN-EA members are especially asking the Ugandan parliament and ministries to ensure that 2023/2024 national budget drives women’s employment in the green economic sectors. IGEN-EA has made the above calls at a time when ministries are expected to submit ministerial policy statements for review by parliament. The statements, which are ordinarily submitted in April, accompany and justify the draft budget at the ministerial level.
Ms. Diana Nabiruma, the coordinator of IGEN-EA, says, “In February 2023, IGEN-EA organised engagements during which communities were sensitised on the budget estimates and allocations to various green economic sectors. The budget estimates are contained in the 2023/2024 National Budget Framework Paper.”
She adds, “The IGEN-EA members collected communities including women’s views on what the priorities for Uganda’s 2023/2024 national budget should be. We are calling on ministries and parliament to listen to these views, which are contained in this press statement.”
Ms. Ireen Twongirwe of Women for a Green Economy Movement (WoGEM), a member organisation of IGEN-EA, elaborates, “In the 2023/2024 budget proposals that were approved by parliament in February, you find that a lot of emphasis is being placed on grid electrification. The generation and transmission votes account for over 90% of the allocations made under the sustainable energy programme.”
She adds, “Yet despite trillions of shillings being invested in grid electrification, women’s energy needs remain unmet. Women continue to suffer while looking for firewood and buying expensive charcoal.”
Ms. Joan Atuha of the Guild Presidents Forum on Governance (GPFOG), a member organisation of IGEN-EA notes, “Renewable energy which has the potential to increase women’s employment in the clean energy sector while meeting women’s energy needs, was only allocated Shs. 5.46 billion. More budget allocations need to be made to renewable energy.”
It should be noted that less women are employed in the renewable energy sector with a 2022 study showing that of the nearly 30,000 jobs in the Distributed Renewables Energy (DRE) sector in Uganda, only 28% are occupied by women.
Mr. Rodney James Bukusuba of the Uganda National Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Alliance (UNREEEA), a member organisation of IGEN-EA, says, “It is hard for women to do jobs such as installation of solar systems. However, women can be trained to occupy different roles within the renewable energy space. These could include solar system sizing, monitoring, and maintenance. These jobs are less skewed towards strength and agility. The national budget, especially the allocations made to the sustainable energy and education programmes, should respond to these needs.”
sector including forestry, livestock and fishing accounts for 69.4% of the jobs in Uganda. More women and youth than men are employed in subsistence agriculture. Agriculture is also driving and is expected to continue driving economic growth with the National Development Plan III noting that the sector will contribute 7.2% to real GDP by 2024/2025.”
He however adds, “Despite the government committing under the Malabo declaration to allocate 10% of the national budget to the agricultural sector, government has never met this commitment. Since 2003 when the Malabo declaration was adopted, the agricultural sector has never received even 5% of the national budget. This under- funding affects women in the sector by hampering sustainable mechanisation and limiting access to farm implements as well as agroecological farm inputs. This must be remedied.”
Mr. Ben Ntale, a private sector player that belongs to IGEN-EA, says, “Women have broken barriers in tourism. They have taken up leadership positions and women compete favourably with men for jobs such as tour guiding. However, stereotyping and socio-cultural barriers are undermining women’s full participation in the tourism sector. At less than 1%, the national budget allocations made to the tourism sector also remain low.”
Ms. Janepher Baitwamasa adds, “Moreover, tourist attractions such as national parks, forests and others that employ women are being destroyed especially in the Albertine Graben”.
Ms. Helen Lubowa, the Executive Director of Uganda Community Tourism Association (UCOTA) asserts that “there is need to apportion a budget to empower more women at grassroots level to engage in tourism-related businesses such as community-based tourism and handicraft production among others. The funds can be apportioned under the Parish Development Model.”
IGEN-EA members are calling on the ministries of finance, energy and mineral development, water and environment and tourism to plan for the following in their 2023/2024 ministerial policy statements:
- Increase budget allocations to the renewable energy vote under the sustainable energy programme. The budget allocations should go towards funding women’s access to off-grid solar energy and clean cooking solutions among.
- In addition, provide funding to the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Development to ensure that the ministry undertakes stakeholder consultations including consultations with women to put in place Renewable Energy and Energy policies that meet the needs of women.
- Further, ensure that trainings for women on distributed renewable energy are funded to increase women participation in renewable energy.
- In addition, increase the agro-industrialisation budget to 10% of the national Priorities such as the provision of quality seeds, increasing funding to the Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) to ensure quality products on the market and others must be funded to address the challenges faced by women.
- Further, emphasis should be placed on measures by the Ministry of Lands that are aimed at strengthening land security, especially for women, to support agricultural.
- Finally, stop all activities that are driving deforestation and forest degradation in the Albertine Graben to promote tourism and other green economic