As Uganda prepares to join the rest of the world to commemorate Women’s Day on March 8th, Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) has organized a special Women’s Conference for Women to discuss issues that affect women in businesses in Uganda.
The conference, which was attended by hundreds of women was held under the theme, “Celebrating 25 years of constitutional scores in gender equality and women empowerment.”
It was meant to celebrate the role that women play in the development of the economy, discuss opportunities, challenges and share working solutions to challenges that face women in their everyday running of their businesses
In her opening remarks, the Executive Director URA, Doris Akol noted that although Uganda’s new constitution gave women rights and liberties to participate equally in social and economic running of the country, there are some factors that are hindering women from achieving their full potential including cultural norms and the competitive nature of women
“Achieving gender equality in relation to the social development goals requires empowering women and girls and ensuring their full and active participation of all women to take up their social, political and economic roles in decision making. This year’s theme is ‘equal world is an enabled world’ which emphasizes the need for a different approach towards achieving equal opportunities for women,” she said
“Women are culturally conditioned to believe we are supposed to be dependents and always being in the background so we unconsciously gave up our rights in decision making. We as women must break the cultural barriers by raising and grooming both our male and female children in the same manner, giving them roles and opportunities and making them understand that each of them can achieve anything as long as they put their minds too,” she said
Akol further urged the women to learn to work together and uplift each other and desist from pulling their fellow women down.
“While our male counterparts meet to network, pull each other up; when women get together, they want to compete against each other. We should be consolidating each other to achieve things that we wouldn’t achieve otherwise as individuals. Be secure enough and praise each other,” she added.
She also urged women to involve their children in their businesses to ensure continuity but also do businesses formally to avoid falling victims of the law.
The Commissioner Gender and Women affairs, Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development, Angella Nakafeero noted that Women are powerful enough to transform any economy, but that they are pulled back by unfavorable cultural beliefs and norms.
“We are unconsciously practicing patriarchy which emphasizes male dominance and superiority complex. There is systematic discrimination right away from childhood through gendered roles where we give the family rearing roles to our female children while we give the financial and decision making roles to the male children. If we are to transform our societies, we must do away with the social discriminatory roles starting with our own children,” she said.
The KACITA Vice Chairlady Hope Katwiine urged the women to form cooperation and do businesses as a group instead of doing them as individuals to be able to access government and financial funding.
Damali Ssali, the Country Manager TradeMark East Africa, that has been at the forefront of enabling women in cross border trade urged women to focus on improving the standards of their products if they are to compete favourably on the international market.
She urged them to form groups and also seek certification from Uganda National Bureau of Standards (UNBS) to be able to enjoy the wider Market.
Prudence Ukkonika, the proprietor of Bella wine said that as women importers and exporters, they used to face many challenges at the borders that included spending days at the borders with no proper hotels, or toilets, however those conditions have been improved.
“It is easy for a man to sleep in a truck which is not the case for us women because of security reasons. We also need proper rest rooms which were originally not provided. However, we raised our concerns and the government responded. The situation has improved very much,” she said.