Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Economic justice activists are worried that the anticipated intentions of the Parish Development Model-PDM may not be fully realized if women are not allowed equal or even higher stakes in its implementation.
The program is a new strategy designed to improve household incomes and lift Ugandans out of the subsistence economy to the money economy. It targets organizing and delivering public and private sector interventions for wealth creation and employment generation at parish levels as the lowest economic planning unit of the community.
The PDM program which is anchored on seven pillars of its implementation is putting much focus on agriculture, marketing, and the value addition chain. At its inception, the government allocated 17 million Shillings to each parish cooperative society and committed to disburse100 million Shillings in the next financial year to support members’ income-generating projects.
But Elliot Orizaarwa, the Executive Director at the Women and Girl Child Development Association- WEGCDA, wants the program implementers to heighten women’s participation by deliberately giving priority to enterprises that favour them, other than being treated as secondary beneficiaries. The association seeks to break the barriers to women’s economic justice.
She is afraid that because the program is going to be managed at the grassroots level, it is likely to be highly competitive and by default, it will advantage the men more than their female counterparts hence their marginalization.
To close the gap, Orizaarwa says that they considered engaging the program architects and supervisors at the different levels of implementation, to appreciate their worries such that they can remove all bottlenecks that may work against women. Ideally, according to her, it is proper that the program implementers consider operating within some of the existing different women formations.
Joan Akikunda, the Gender and Legal Officer at WEGCDA also recommends that the program implementers give women equal access and participation in the economic decision-making process, as well as ensure that they remain safe from any form of abuse that may result from their financial empowerment.
She appealed to the Parish Chiefs and Community Development Officers as key implementers to ensure that women are provided with timely and accurate information about the program, to enable them closely follow and eventually benefit from it.
Florence Nakandi, the Programs Officer at Community Transformation Foundation Network-COTFONE; a civil society organization operating in the greater Masaka sub-region, challenges the government to bring on board civil society actors who can ably represent or even empower women to speak up during the decision-making process.
“We would wish to see women effectively participating in the benefiting enterprises’ selection process, such that their preferences are catered for,” she noted.