Activists want women to be at the forefront of parish development model
Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | Economic justice activists fear that the anticipated intentions of the parochial-PDM development model will not be fully realized if women are not allowed equal or even greater participation in its implementation.
The program is a new strategy designed to improve household incomes and move Ugandans from a subsistence economy to a cash economy. It aims to organize and deliver public and private sector interventions for wealth creation and job creation at parish level as the lowest economic planning unit of the community.
The PDM program which is anchored on seven pillars of its implementation emphasizes agriculture, marketing and the value chain. When it was established, the government allocated 17 million shillings to each Parish Cooperative Society and pledged to disburse 100 million shillings in the next financial year to support members’ income-generating projects.
But Elliot Orizaarwa, executive director of the Women and Girls Development Association – WEGCDA, wants program implementers to boost women’s participation by deliberately prioritizing businesses that favor them, instead of being treated as secondary beneficiaries. The association seeks to break down barriers to women’s economic justice.
She fears that because the program is going to be run locally, it is likely to be very competitive and by default will benefit men more than their female counterparts, hence their marginalization.
To bridge the gap, Orizaarwa says they have considered engaging the architects and supervisors of the program at the various levels of implementation, to appreciate their concerns so that they can remove any bottlenecks that may be hindering Women’s. Ideally, she says, program implementers should consider operating within some of the different women’s formations that exist.
Joan Akikunda, Gender and Legal Officer at WEGCDA also recommends that program implementers give women equal access and participation in the economic decision-making process, as well as ensure that they remain free from any form of abuse that may result from their financial empowerment. .
She called on parish leaders and community development workers as key implementers to ensure that women receive timely and accurate information about the program, to enable them to follow closely and potentially benefit from it.
Florence Nakandi, program manager at the Community Transformation Foundation Network-COTFONE; a civil society organization operating in the greater Masaka sub-region, challenges the government to involve civil society actors who can represent or even empower women in decision-making.
“We would like women to be effectively involved in the process of selecting beneficiary companies, so that their preferences are taken into account,” she noted.