click to close this section! Women in Uganda Some Recent Speeches of the: First Lady of Uganda, Mama Miria Obote CONTENTS Preface International Women’s Day State House, Entebbe - 8 March 1984 Women in Population Programs. A country statement at a meeting of The UN Fund for Population Activities UN, New York - May 1984 Reaching the Rural Women. International Conference Center, Kampala - 12 September 1984 World Food Day Masaka - 16 October 1984 PREFACE The United Nations Decade for Women comes to close this year. This July Africa is home at Nairobi to the 1985 World Conference to Review and Appraise the Achievements of the UN Decade for Women. The Nairobi Conference will hopefully receive the World Survey on the Role of Women in Development that the UN is compiling. It is appropriate that the World Conference is preceded by the Non-aligned Movement Conference on Women and Development in New Delhi as this April. Women in the Third World have a larger leap to make to claim their rightful place in the Sun so as to effectively contribute to world peace and development. Uganda has now joined the mainstream of the worldwide movement for the equal participation of women with men in all development efforts and policy making. The awakening in Uganda is inspired by the First Lady Mama Miria Obote, a loving and devoted wife and mother; a person of dignity, compassion and understanding. I am privileged to bring to you some recent speeches of Mama Miria in the cause of Women. The Women of Uganda have great hopes in these initiatives not only for themselves but also for womenfolk everywhere, especially for our long-suffering sisters in Namibia, South Africa and other subjugated lands. (Mrs.) Darshi Singh Uganda House New Delhi International Women’s Day 8th March 1985. INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY 8 March, 1984 State House Entebbe Your Excellency, The President of the Republic of Uganda Cabinet Ministers Your Excellencies The Hon. Madam, Chairperson, National Council of Women Invited Guests My fellow Women It gives me great pleasure to welcome you all to this most important occasion. I am particularly happy that for the first time in the history of this country, Uganda has joined hands with the International Community in observing this occasion. This is also the most representative gathering of women in this country, since liberation and, indeed, in the history of Uganda. As a woman, I share the same concerns and problems that any woman faces in this country and the world over. As you are aware, today we are here to celebrate the International Women’s Day. Some of you may well ask what is the International Women’s Day? It is therefore fitting to remind us that the IWD is a day born of the struggles by women to be taken as equal partners in all aspects of development. It started in 1907 by the International Congress, which took place at Stuttgart in Germany acknowledging that women had not been given a fair deal and therefore urged each country which participated in the Congress to intensify their work to support women’s struggle for Socio-economic, Socio-Cultural, and political equality. In 1910 North American Countries recognized Women’s Day. In 1911 Germany and Austria recognized March 11th as International Women’s Day. Since then many Countries around the world have recognized IWD. In 1913 International Women’s day was fixed for March 8th but for several years many countries celebrated Women’s Day on different dates. In 1975, the United Nations, of which Uganda is a very active member, declared the International Women’s Year. The UN further declared 1975-1985 to be a Decade for women. It was also recognized that March 8th be a day on which all the member nations should recognize and honour women. Beyond this, it is also a day on which people all over the world stop to reflect on how far society has tapped the potential of woman in development. Before today, Uganda had not done anything to recognize and honour woman on this day, because of the recent historical problems of this country. We are therefore grateful that IWD is today given that recognition. Under the circumstances it is fitting that the first celebration of International Women’s Day, in Uganda, should begin at the State House. While it is appreciated that the women of Uganda did not have to struggle to vote and to get equal pay for equal work, it is also a fact that there is still a lot Ugandan women have to achieve. It is statistically acknowledged that there are more women in Uganda than men. The question then is why is it that women are not adequately represented at various government levels and other bodies? There is no negative aspect of the History of our country, which has not touched women intimately. The women of this country supported their men in the struggle for Independence. During the reign of terror, it was the women who were the comfort and backbone of the homes when men were imprisoned and murdered. Many women lost their husbands, sons, brothers and relatives. Some even lost their lives. Ugandan women participated at various levels in the Liberation of our Country from the murderous regime of the seventies. The Ugandan rural woman plays a most significant part in the economy of Uganda. She is the major producer of both food and cash crops. She is a food processor; she is a wife, mother, nurse, and comforter. She works more than fifteen hours each day. Yet if she wanted to improve her farm or business, she would have no access to a bank loan. This is because she is uneducated; and the land she farms belongs to the husband. Yet the bank insists on some form of Security before it can give her a loan. She is often not recognized by the field-worker as a vital recipient of modern farming methods. If the field officer meets her at all, in most cases he or she will talk to her about home economics only. Let it be understood that the demand for more attention being given to women’s issues is not out of selfishness on our part but rather out of an urgent need to achieve equality that our Country can leap ahead in development with two healthy legs rather than limp with one good male leg and one bad female leg. We believe that no meaningful development can be achieved without recognition, encouragement, and participation of more than half of the population. One does not require many examples to show what we are trying to point out. There are no women in the Cabinet. There is only one woman Member of Parliament. The number of women on Boards of various parastatal and other bodies in minimal. There are no women judges. At Makerere University, there is only one woman professor. There is only one woman Permanent Secretary and three Under Secretaries. It is no wonder that the women of Uganda feel they have not been appreciated or taken seriously enough. The Ugandan Community should try to address itself specifically to women as an important part of the population, especially during this time of rehabilitation and reconstruction of the country. The women of this country recognize and appreciate the efforts Government is putting in trying to raise the status of women through the Ministry of Culture and Community Development. We recommend the work the Ministry is doing through the National Council of Women. This working relationship has enabled the National Council of Women to set up a number of development projects particularly for rural areas. Good as it is, and although much has been achieved in this way, it may be in order for me to say that there are bottlenecks still slowing down the efforts of the society in trying to exploit more fully the potentials of women of this country. May I therefore say here that the consensus opinion of the womenfolk is that Government creates a separate Ministry to deal exclusively with women’s affairs. The experience of Zimbabwe, a sister African country and many others, is a case in point. This would initiate improved and more realistic focus on women’s activities with an assured budget to enable implementation of programs and adequate liaison with women organizations and groups. It would create a national Machinery that would reach even the remotest rural woman who is not normally represented on National Planning Boards and whose economic contribution remains unacknowledged. We are happy to note that the Government has always provided equal opportunities for both boys and girls in the field of education. However, we are disappointed by the high rate of school dropouts among girls. This is due to the cultural attitudes, which force parents to withdraw girls from school when there is no money for fees. In the rural areas, a father would sell a bull to get a boy back to school but would rarely do so for a girl. We suggest that to remedy the situation, plans should commence towards the introduction of free primary school education for all. We recommend the establishment of village polytechnics and other vocational training Institutions. We also support the revival of an all out adult literacy campaign by the Ministry of Culture and Community Development to stamp out illiteracy of which the majority of victims are women, particularly in the rural areas. We welcome the immunization program that the Government has introduced with International assistance. However, we know that many people still die from lack of medical facilities. Mothers die in childbirth due to lack of proper care. There is need for maternity hospitals, and the upgrading of the nursing profession to ensure greater efficiency. Better working conditions and higher pay would revive the morale of the nursing personnel and reduce incidences of negligence and unprofessional behaviour. My fellow women, I would like us to address our minds to the family as a central unit in any society. There is no doubt that there has been a weakening in the ties that used to bind families together. There is a moral degeneration in our society, which has culminated into "Bayayeism" and loose morals which have pervaded every fibre of our nation. The holding of the family together is a joint responsibility of both parents - the man and the woman. To abscond from that responsibility is to contribute to the degeneration of our society. We all know, "Charity begins at home". Children are the responsibility of both parents and the family is the most important unit in the life of a child. It is up to the parents to bring up their children in an atmosphere of love and emotional security and this requires love, integrity, honesty and the presence of both parents if they are alive. It is said that: If there is righteousness in the heart; there will be beauty in character; If there is beauty in character; there will be harmony in the family home; If there is harmony in the home; there will be order in the Nation; When there is order in the Nation, there will be peace in the World. Every parent is aware of how difficult it is to bring up children in these turbulent times, but we must neither despair nor be complacent, because at all times we must have hope and think of the future generations. The step taken by Government to assist widows and orphans is greatly appreciated. However, there is still need for Government, for religious institutions and other bodies to mount a campaign to protect even further the widows and orphans of this country. We know of incidents where relatives have turned widows out of their homes and on occasions deprived them access to their children. We know that there is a law of succession, which entitles a widow to stay in her house after her husband’s death, but this law is either not known or not complied with. The following four points among others also require serious attention and action by Government: Firstly, establishment of Day Care Centres at places of Work is vital. Families, especially those of the working class, are experiencing problems in catering for the care of children of pre-nursery going age, and this has resulted into accidents in the home and improper up-bringing of our children. While there is positive action on the part of the NCW to establish Day Care Centres in every urban setting, this effort however is limited by lack of funds. Secondly, while we are aware that maternity leave arrangements is extended to all women public employees, we are informed that in the teaching profession, unmarried women teachers are still denied this arrangement. We consider this rather unfortunate policy which calls for redress. Further more, women would appreciate longer maternity leave than the paid 45 days. Women are aware that maternity leave arrangement is made based on the consideration that the mother requires sufficient rest and also that the child at this delicate stage requires total care. Thirdly, on the political field, we call upon all able-bodied women to opt for leadership position in politics and even to opt for candidature at general Election. Here we would like to call upon political Parties to sponsor women candidates so that in this way we tap more women contributions in decision-making circles and at other levels. Fourthly, the World Conference on Women is designed to mark the end of the Women Decade in 1985. It is during this Conference that meaningful stock-taking and in particular, resolutions and programming that will lead to total elimination of all discriminations against women will take place. Women of Uganda therefore should send a big contingent of delegates to attend the Conference to accord them the opportunity of sharing ideas and experiences with their counterparts in other countries. As we recognize the efforts of all the women of the world in the struggle for social justice and equality, we must resolve that this day in Uganda be a day on which the Uganda women’s solidarity is born. Let us go out of here with a determination to have a united voice to articulate our aspirations for the good of our country regardless of our political, tribal or religious beliefs. We resolve henceforth to be a part of the International Women’s Movement. We need to put Uganda securely on the map of the World. In conclusion, I would like to thank the National Council of Women’s Caretaker Committee for the commendable work they are doing to foster the cause of women in this country. My special gratitude also goes to the Organizing Committee of the Council, which worked tirelessly to make this day a success. We would like the Government to declare this day a National Day to be celebrated the same way that Youth Day and Labour Day are celebrated in Uganda. Last but not least we would like to thank His Excellency the President and all the men who have joined us today plus those who are not able to be with us for their support. We therefore request the men to continue supporting us, and to regard us as true partners in development, not only to day, but tomorrow and day after tomorrow and next week, next month, next year and the years to come. I say all this for God and my Country. May 1984 United Nations New York click to close this section!
click to close this section Women in Uganda World Food Day: The Role of Women in Agriculture 7th March, 1985 City Hall Kampala Honorable Ministers, Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen: I have noted with pleasure that the theme of the "World Food Day" this year is "The role of Women in Agriculture". I am happy that, through the efforts of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the important role of Women in Agriculture has been the subject of international conferences. I am also happy that many African governments, including the Government of Uganda, have responded positively and have participated in global and regional meetings where the role of women in agriculture has been discussed. These conferences and meetings serve to increase the consciousness of all the people, not only on the role of Women in Agriculture and Food production, but also on the important position of women in the solution of all national and international problems of development. What is now emerging is the truth that although women play vital roles in a wide range of fields of development, women do not enjoy easy access to development, women do not enjoy easy access to development facilities. Nowhere is this more significant than in the field of agriculture and food production. Whereas it is acknowledged that women contribute more effort in the production of food and other crops, very few women have been trained in Agriculture and Food Technology; and very few women own the means of agricultural production and processing. The imbalance in the opportunities and skills available to women, compared with men, must be seen as one of the basic deficiencies giving rise to the global food problem today. The role of women in agriculture should therefore be properly perceived and appropriate international, national and social measures should be taken to avail skills and opportunities to women so that they make much more effective contribution to the relief and elimination of the global food problem. The most important position of women in relation to food and agriculture derives from their role as mothers. When a baby is born, mother is the natural source of food; because there is no better balanced diet for the baby than breast milk. Thus everybody is conditioned, right from infancy, to believe that it is the responsibility of women to provide food for their children. In almost all-Ugandan societies it is also commonly held that the role of the wife is to provide for her household. It is the wife who knows how much food there is left in the granary and which bunch of banana is ready for harvest. A wife with no garden, or no granary, has no security in the home. In the traditional peasant agriculture system in Africa the women, on account of her twin roles as mother and wife, was the prime mover of the domestic food economy. The twin roles have not changed with the times and are unlikely to change. Traditional peasant agriculture, however, is giving way to new forms of agricultural production. These changes are bringing more and more into prominence the role of the women as the backbone of an economy such as that of Uganda. Ours is still a rural economy, of which agriculture is the leading sector. The leading person in that sector is the woman. She is the backbone of that economy. Without her labour and numerical strength, the level of our agricultural production would be lower than what has been recorded. Besides providing labour, the woman also plays a supervisory role in cases where the husband can afford to hire extra labour. Thus throughout the year women in Uganda are fully engaged in the various stages of agricultural production; tilling the land, planting, weeding, harvesting, processing, storage. The role of women in marketing it is mainly the women who are to be found retailing maize and cassava flour, beans, groundnuts and other produce. The unmistakably significant role that women play in agricultural production, processing and marketing of crops, as well as in the preparation of food, poses a challenge to those who are involved in planning for the development of the agricultural sector of our economy. It is important, therefore, that policies for increased agricultural production should be formulated with special bias towards the training of women in agriculture. It is also essential, for the improvement of the social status of the women, that new initiatives be taken by Government and Parliament to reward women handsomely for the work they do to increase the national wealth. Today, a married woman will work as much as her husband in the production of food or export crops. Some of the food crop is sold in the local market. The cash income, which comes to the family out of this combined work by the man and his wife, goes almost wholly to the man. The woman may be rewarded with one busuti, one new kikoi, one handkerchief, one pair of shoes or a necklace. The man will take the rest of the income, besides what may go into the housekeeping and the welfare of the children. Even where he is capable of banking part of that money, the account is always in the name of the man alone. He is free to drink part of this income practically every day, but the woman, unhappily, never gets a little of the income for an occasional drink with fellow women. This is not a good set-up to encourage this great producer of wealth - the backbone of the economy - known as woman. I call upon Government and Parliament to remove the irony in our situation where there are very few women associated with agricultural projects, when the woman is the backbone of our agriculture and the leading implementers of the agricultural projects. Almost all-agricultural extension workers are men. Almost all the co-operative extension workers are men. Almost all-veterinary extension workers are men. Almost all trade development officers are men. In addition, women in Uganda hardly find the opportunity to attend agricultural, co-operatives and marketing extension meetings and conferences. All these meetings are attended and dominated by men. The time has come when we in Uganda should seriously address ourselves to improving the agricultural and food processing methods of the women. Today, the technique which are used by women in the rural areas of Uganda, in tilling the land, planting and weeding, threshing, winnowing and storage of agricultural produce, are the same as they have been for time immemorial. They are traditional methods. With increasing population and demand for food, these traditional methods of production and processing of crops are no longer adequate. There can be no doubt, therefore, that one of the priority issues for agricultural development in Uganda today is the introduction and training of women and men in modern agricultural and food technology. We need to re-examine our agricultural extension services and methods and to single out women as the important target recipients of these services. Our District Farm Institutes should provide special courses and programs designed for women, so that they may be exposed to better agricultural and food technology. Special effort should be made to develop women’s producer co-operatives, so those women may be enabled to grow crops on a larger scale. Special training programs should be designed for women to learn how to operate and maintain farm machinery, apply fertilizers and operate mills. Before I conclude, I wish to extend gratitude to all the women of Uganda who are engaged in agricultural production. It is their work that has built this country. I want to say to them that the work they do is beginning to be recognized and that it is only a matter of time before their sweat and toil shall also be justly rewarded. I pay special homage to the women of Masaka District and, of course, the men. Whatever may have been the reason for the Minister of Agriculture and Forestry to select Masaka for this year’s celebrations, the true reason must be recognition of the hard working women and men of Masaka. I thank you all for the various activities you have done and particularly for the Agricultural show you have staged and the Cultural Show, which everyone has enjoyed today. Lastly, I appeal to all concerned to recognize that in order to enhance productivity in agriculture; special attention should be given to improving skills of women in Uganda. I thank the Honorable Minister of Agriculture & Forestry for inviting me to be the Guest of Honor at the functions marking "World Food Day" this year. I am happy that the Day is being celebrated in all parts of Uganda. To my fellow women, I would like to say that, since we play such an important role in all aspects of food production and processing in this country, we should take "World Food Day" to be yet another "Women’s Day". click to close this section
The Republic of Uganda is a landlocked country in the centre of Africa. It sits astride the equator and borders with the Sudan in the north, Kenya in the east, Tanzania and Rwanda in the South and Zaire in the west.
Uganda is a high plateau land with an altitude of over 1,000 meters above sea level. Mount Elgon (4,300 meters) bound it in the east; in the west by Ruwenzori range (5,100 meters); and the Mufumbira Mountains (4,100 meters) in the southwest.
Lake Victoria, the second largest fresh water mass in the world and the source of the River Nile, constitutes its southern border with Tanzania. The River Nile bisects Uganda almost in the middle and flows from the south through Lake Kyoga to Lake Albert/Mobutu and continues through the Sudan and Egypt into the Mediterranean Sea.
The above physical features gives Uganda a mild pleasant climate with a mean temperature of 26-C. The mean annual rainfall ranges between 500 to 2,250 mls. Lakes swamps and rivers occupy 20% of Uganda. The rest is fertile farmland characterized by lush vegetation or open Savannah.
Uganda is endowed with a wealth of natural resources and because of favorable climate and soil conditions, the country can generate enough food to feed itself and a surplus for export. In addition, a number of export crops such as coffee, cotton and tea are produced.
Major tourist attractions include the source of the Nile; the country’s varied physical features and the country’s four national parks. The spectacular Murchison waterfalls where all the waters of the Nile converge into a gorge 4.5 meters wide and fall 70 meters downstream characterizes Kabalega. Kabalega also has abundant wild life, including the rare white rhino. Ruwenzori National Park has a rich bird life; a rare gazelle called the Uganda Kob and herds of hippopotamus. In Kidepo National Park, there are zebras, giraffes and ostriches. The newly established Lake Mburo National Park has large herds of elands, antelopes and different species of snake and lizards.
In all the parks, there are elephants, lions, leopards, baboons and all other tropical animals. Gorillas can be found in the Mufumbira game reserve.
The Republic of Uganda covers an area of 236,000 sq. kms and according to the 1980 Census, the population was given as 12.6 million. The women formed slightly over 50% of the population.
A summary of the demographic characteristic of Uganda is as follows:- Total Population 12.6 million Rural population 11.3 million (90%) Urban population 1.3 million (10%) Male/Female Ratio 97:100 Average population density 66 per sq. km. Life expectancy 50 years Annual growth rate 2.8% Population under 5 years 19% Women within child-bearing Age (15-49) 23% Population over 52 years 11% Literacy rate 48% (female 36%) Crude birth rate 47 per 1000 Infant mortality rate 97 per 1000
The most outstanding demographic characteristic of the Uganda population is the high infant mortality rate. The main cause is the destruction of the medical and social services during the 1970’s with the result that diseases like measles, diarrhea diseases, malnutrition which were controlled in the 1960’s have become rampant. Even diseases, which had been eradicated in the 1960’s such as polio mallets, have re-appeared. The situation presents urgent challenges to development planning, covering the rehabilitation of medical and social services, as well as community education, with a view to revive vigorous primary health care activities.
REVIEW OF UGANDA’S POPULATION ACTIVITIES
Uganda’s population activities consist primarily of Planned Parenthood, maternal and childcare, education (formal and informal) and collection of demographic data. Unfortunately for Uganda, much of the data for January 1980 census was lost and what remained cannot be representative of the whole country. Government is making arrangements to mount a demographic sample survey, if carefully carried out, would give a fair reflection of the whole country’s demographic picture. The objective is to use the results of the survey in the development plan programs until next census in 1990.
Presently every effort is being made to rehabilitate and reconstruct the country so that normal development can once again be undertaken and enable the country to play her proper role in the international community. For nearly a decade (1971-1979) Uganda was under a military regime and the period was characterized by destruction of lives, economy and social services. The task of reconstruction is recognized as a task that is to be performed by every Ugandan at every level. It is with this realization that the Government has embarked on a major mobilization program of all able-bodied persons in the endeavor. Considering that women form more than 50 per cent of all population, the success of the reconstruction program so far means that the women of Uganda have positively taken up the challenge and are participating effectively in the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the country.
The World Bank reported last year-1983 that Uganda’s GDP grew on average by 5 per cent per annum during 1981 and 1982 and that this growth was probably sustained into 1983. The nature of the agricultural activities in Uganda is such that the women play the major role. Much of this growth can be attributed to the efforts of the women in the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the new Uganda.
Organized Planned Parenthood activities in Uganda were started in the early 1950’s. In 1957 the Family Planning Association of Uganda was established. Planned Parenthood activities suffered just like any other organization in the 1970’s but its activities are being revived.
In the 1960’s, Uganda was one of the leading countries the world over in the Primary Health Care programs and activities. The programs involved basic health services such as health education, training of village health services such as health environmental sanitation, immunization, and provision of wholesome water supply and encouragement of prolonged breast feeding and nutrition education for mothers and school children. In all these, active community participation, record keeping and in-built evaluation system were the essential part of the program. The Kasangati Health Center near Kampala and attached to the Institute of Public Health, Makerere University Medical School, started this community health model in the 1950’s. It was the work done at Kasangati and the implementation of the Government program of the 1960, which formed the basis for the ULMA-ATA declaration of 1978 on Primary Health Care. Government announced in 1983 the revival of the national plan of action on Primary Health Care and the implementation of the plan has begun.
The women of Uganda have welcomed the National Plan on Primary Health Care. In October 1983, the President of the Republic of Uganda personally launched the Expanded Immunization Program and oral rehydration therapy, both of which are being implemented. In conjunction with the UNICEF, equipment necessary for the program has started arriving in the country and is being utilized. The Government program includes: Rehabilitation of rural health centers and dispensaries, provision of essential drugs and basic equipment and revival of school health education scheme.
The Government’s Recovery Program include expansion and introduction of appropriate technologies which reduce the women’s work load in the fields and at home so that they have more time for participation in Health Care activities and leisure.
For the three years 1984-86 Government has formulated a plan for effective dissemination of information on health education, maternal and child health and Planned Parenthood. Under this plan, workshops are to be organized for the various categories of persons including Members of Parliament at national, regional and district levels. Physicians and other categories of health workers who are to execute the national plan have been identified and are undergoing the necessary orientation training.
The Uganda Planned Parenthood Association held a five-day workshop in January 1984. High-ranking officials attended the Workshop from Government ministries, Makerere University Medical School, Church Organizations and other agencies. The participants discussed Uganda’s demographic problems and made recommendation for encouraging the Planned Parenthood Association Movement and Service in Uganda.
A training scheme for nurses and midwives in maternal and health clinics has started. It is planned that by August 1986, 60 hospitals will be providing Planned Parenthood services in addition to the existing net work of the 60 clinics being managed by the Uganda Parenthood Association. Training courses for tutors and heads of health training institutions were started in March 1984 and the training or other cadres is continuing. Family planning materials and related equipment worth 300,000 United States Dollars have been offered to and accepted by the Planned Parenthood Association of Uganda to equip all the Maternal and Child Health Clinics.
WOMEN’S PARTICIPATION IN POPULATION PROGRAMMES
Uganda has no law prohibiting women from participating in any field of endeavor. The women have the same freedom as men to pursue any profession or employment. A woman and a man doing the same job are paid the same salary and are subject to the same terms and conditions of service. The Ugandan woman is free to marry a man of her choice.
Despite the law being non-discriminatory, there are still some traditional and cultural inhibitions and taboos which work against women and hinder their effective participation in population programs. A typical example is here a father has a daughter and a son in school. Should that father face financial difficulties, he would sell his bull to maintain the son in school but would be most reluctant to do the same for the daughter even if the daughter is the more brilliant and promising of his two children. It is this kind of traditional mentality which accounts as the main factor for the lower literacy rate amongst the women of Uganda.
There are extremely good schools for girls in Uganda. The numbers, however are no where near the number of boys’ schools. In the co-educational secondary schools the proportion of girls in such schools is low.
The women of Uganda like the men-folk suffered greatly during the 1970’s. There are in society today a large number of widows and orphans; primarily their widowed mothers are looking after the latter.
Government has a program to assist the widows and orphans. This program includes the training of those widows who need practical skills to make themselves self-reliant and the payment of school fees for the orphans by Government.
Uganda law provides that where a husband dies intestate, 75% of his property should go to his children, 15% to his wife, 1% to the official heir and 9% to the rest of his dependents. Where a husband dies leaving a will, the Uganda High Court accepts the provisions of the will subject to normal processes, which obtain in many countries.
The inhibitions for effective participation in population programs which the women in Uganda face are not dictated by law, but by traditions. There are several women organizations in Uganda. The organized groups of women are regarded as crucial in spearheading the participation of women in population activities. Most of such groups are in urban centers and work has begun to reach the majority of women who live in the rural areas.
The responsibility borne by the women of Uganda in the population programs and activities both in the urban and rural areas differ only in degree from the rest of Africa. The situation in Uganda is rapidly changing and giving more and more opportunities to women to participate effectively in public life. This is, however, a very optimistic statement. In order to encourage the process Government has announced the intention to bring before Parliament a Bill on Women’s Charter, which is expected to lay emphasis on further legal protection of women against traditional and customary constraints.
The Uganda Delegation wishes to thank the Directorate of the United Nations Fund for Population Activities for the assistance the Directorate is presently giving to Uganda. The UNFPA is currently funding certain projects in Uganda. It is our hope that the assistance will be expanded and we want to give the assurance that the women of Uganda are determined to play a very active role in all Population Problems and Activities.
click to close this section Women in Uganda REACHING THE RURAL WOMAN Ladies and gentlemen: I am pleased to have been invited to open this national Workshop.
I note with satisfaction that since the 8th March this year, when the women of Uganda celebrated the International Women’s Day at state House, Entebbe, they have placed what I would describe as the "Women’s Agenda" as one of the major themes in order to increase the national capacity towards recovery, stability and unity. This workshop is another milestone towards greater appreciation by men and women and the development of higher level of consciousness of the social problems relating to the status of women, as well as the improvement of their welfare and contribution to National Development. We must see the Workshop in terms of the global movement which aims at the realization of acceptance of women as equal members of any society. I am glad to see among us at this workshop, distinguished women from outside Uganda who have come to contribute to this Important Workshop on "Reaching the Rural Woman". I welcome with much pleasure Dr. Gachukia, Professor of Literature at the University of Nairobi in Kenya, and Mrs. Meghji from the Regional Co-operative Alliance in Moshi, Tanzania. I want to assure these two distinguished ladies, as I hope they already know, that the essential position and experience of women in Uganda is virtually the same as in our sister States of Kenya and Tanzania. We are privileged to have both of you. Mrs. Gachukia and Mrs. Meghji, and we want you to know that we appreciate your contributions to the cause of women in East Africa. I note most specially, the presence here this morning of Dr. Mary Racelis, the regional Director for Eastern and Southern Africa of the UNICEF. We are grateful to you, madam, for accepting to deliver the "keynote" address to the participant in this National Workshop. Please accept, also, our appreciation of the role played by UNICEF in this country over the years, and for assistance in the organization of this particular workshop. Ladies and gentlemen, the theme of this Workshop - "Reaching the Rural Women" - is a very challenging one for the participants and the women as a whole. It is also challenging to the men. The theme of the workshop raises very serious questions. One would ordinarily say that the rural woman at least in Uganda, is not very far away from ones-self. In fact she has connections with everybody, everywhere. The overwhelming majority of the people of Uganda, especially the women, lives and works in the rural areas. The process of urbanization in Uganda is very recent and has been relatively slow. Although it is commonly quoted that about ten percent of the people of Uganda live in towns, most of these town people are not truly urbanized. The people of Uganda have not only rural homes, but also rural roots. In that context, talking about the ‘rural women’ in Uganda is the same as talking virtually about any Ugandan woman. The rural woman is not a peripheral character in Uganda. On the contrary, she is very central to national life and the well being of the entire people of Uganda. The realization of this pivotal position of the rural woman is the cornerstone through which a nation such as Uganda can be built and move forward. To say that the wealth of Uganda is based on rural production is to state the obvious. What is not commonly highlighted or even acknowledged is the substantial contribution by women labour to the production of that wealth. There can be no doubt that in order to increase our national wealth; one of the major targets should be to improve upon the productive capacity of the rural woman. This implies in the first instance that more and better training facilities should be made available to the rural woman. The rural woman is not only a producer of a substantial portion of the national wealth of Uganda; she is also the custodian of our national culture. She is the mother, the nurse and the major teacher of our children. The theme, "Reaching the Rural Woman", should not therefore be seen simply as a matter for mere discussion. While academics may speculate and theorize in terms of "social roles" and "group dynamics", we have to see this theme in terms of movement. The question in this workshop is who is or should be trying to "reach" the rural woman, and why? I find no difficulty in seeing the broad reason why the rural woman should be reached. To increase her capacity to create wealth is to increase the wealth of the entire nation. To increase her standard of education is to ensure the health of her children and that of the whole nation. I need not enumerate all the advantages of enriching the rural woman in a positive manner in the interests of nation building. The question still remains, who should reach her? To answer that question we should recognize that a rural woman is a peasant woman with a wealth of experience in practical life. It must not be forgotten that she, too, has her own ideas as to how things in her homestead should be done and managed; and on those she is not ignorant at all. It must also not be overlooked that she has definite ideas about those who do not live in rural areas. There is no dispute that the rural woman’s standard of living needs to be improved. She is ready to receive new knowledge, but she must be approached with understanding and respect. I believe that the rural woman in Uganda is very easily accessible. She is not a unique or eccentric character. She is very a hardworking woman, and she is eager to improve her lot. Her view of the world is based on practical experience. It would be inadvisable to attempt to change her life-pattern without her full involvement in the change. It would follow, therefore, that the rural woman should be involved in the processes of further social and economic progress. I would suggest the establishment of institutional machinery through which the voice of the rural woman can be heard effectively. Allow me the opportunity to thank all those who have made it possible for this Workshop to take place. I wish you the best in your deliberations. I declare the workshop - "Reaching the Rural Woman" - open. 16th October, 1984 Masaka, Uganda click to close this section