Kampala, Uganda | Julius Businge | Women of Uganda working in markets play an important role in moving the economy and catering for family basic needs.
This is one basis that people advocating for improved working conditions for women in markets are fronting.
Speaking at the 4th National Women Market Symposium held in Kampala on Nov.12, the UN Women Country Representative for Uganda, Maxime Houinato, said support towards women in markets should be geared towards improving quantity and quality, access to equipment and related technology.
Houinato said that in the current digital age, women should be urged not to buy internet enabled devices like smartphones for children, but instead should use such devices to access markets and grow sales.
He also said that women in markets should not be diverted from their businesses in times of political activities, and that they should be given leadership roles to make important decisions.
His comments came at a time politicians are engaging women in political activities as several of them [women] remain stuck in poverty and others facing harassment of all kinds.
Moureen Wagubi, the executive director for Institute for Socia Transformation (IST), the main organisers of the symposium called on Parliament to amend laws in line with reducing the cost of doing business digitally.
“Reduce tax on imports of smartphones,” she said, adding: “Reduce taxes on the internet.” Wagubi said most women face challenges regarding access to markets, record keeping, skills development, saving and more.
The institute is currently supporting women to access market through an internet application – Market Garden – where a total of about 300 women operating in Kampala markets are hooked on to it.
Going forward, Houinato said he would liaise with other UN agencies to support women in markets in accessing markets, enhancing skills in book/record keeping, financial management and more.
Johnson Abitekereza from the Ministry of Trade Industry and Cooperatives said government has come up with policies like Buy Uganda Build Uganda to aid women in achieving their business goals.
He advised them to consult and be innovative, form SACCOs as they eye government support.
The half-day symposium attracted approx.200 women from the various markets in Kampala and beyond.