The Uganda Women Network (UWONET) has said that the recently introduced taxes on mobile money have further undermined women economic empowerment by kicking the majority of them out of employment.
Rita Aciro, the Executive Director of UWONET while addressing the media at Hotel Africana in Kampala to unveil the 4th National Women’s Week said mobile banking was improving the lives of low-income, unbanked women by expanding their access to financial services and increasing their level of control over their finances but the new tax is threatening all these achievements.
“Women are the most affected by chronic poverty in Uganda. They are the most involved in ungainful employment, are affected by higher unemployment rates as compared to their male counterparts.
“They are highly likely to engage in vulnerable employment and longer school to work transitions and above all, they experience an unacceptably high wage gap of that stands at 41%,” said Aciro.
The 4th National Women’s Week, which was convened from 17th and running up to 26th October, runs under the goal of “A vibrant and influential women’s movement advocating for gender equality and equity”. Its theme is “Crossing Barriers, Building Bridges: Unleashing Collective Power.”
It also targets at highlighting the persistent gender issues and demands as documented in the Women’s Manifesto 2016 – 2021.
Aciro noted insecurity of land tenure associated with land grabbing and gender-specific issues including discriminatory socio-cultural practices such as inheritance and property ownership further constrain women’s economic empowerment.
“Although women form the bulk of the agricultural labour force, only 25.5% control the land they cultivate and only 7% of the registered land is owned by women.
“Lack of sufficient land rights affects women’s ability to move beyond subsistence agriculture and access to credit,” said Aciro.
On Education, Tezira Jamwa, the Chairperson of UWONET said while UPE and USE have significantly improved access to education, dropout rates of girls from school are on the rise due to teenage pregnancies (34%), poverty (28%), child marriages and sexual harassment.
According to the National Strategic Plan on Violence against Children in Schools (2015 – 2020), 77.7% of primary schools girls, and 82% of the secondary school students have experienced sexual abuse while at school.
8% of girls have been subjected to defilement, 24% are spoken to in a sexual way, 18% receive marriage proposals, 25% are touched in a sexual manner, while 29% are made to watch sexual scenes (pornography).