Providing women and girls with equal rights will fuel sustainable economies and benefit societies and humanity at large, the Minister for Gender, Labour and Social Development, Hon. Amongi Betty Ongom has observed.
She noted that equality is a fundamental human right and foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world.
The Minister made the remarks while delivering a statement on Monday at the 66th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women underway at the United Nations headquarters in New York.
The session that runs from 14th to 25th March 2022, is being held under the theme: Achieving gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls in the context of climate change, environmental and disaster risk reduction policies and programmes.
Amongi noted that the theme corresponds well with the Government of Uganda’s strong and progressive legal, policy and affirmative action framework and climate action initiatives for gender equality and a sustainable future.
She reiterated Uganda’s commitment to the implementation of international, regional and National frameworks to address gender equality and climate change.
“Uganda has developed Gender responsive policies and programmes for environmental conservation, protection and rehabilitation including, Uganda Vision 2040 which calls for development of appropriate adaptation and mitigation strategies on Climate Change to ensure that Uganda is sufficiently cushioned from any adverse impact.” She said adding: “Further, the Vision identifies sustainable land use and management as one of the fundamentals to be strengthened to harness the country’s abundant opportunities.”
She said Uganda was the first African country to develop the Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) Partnership Plan to pursue a low carbon development pathway and reduce the vulnerability of the population, environment, and economy to the impacts of climate change.
She also cited the ratification of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC 2016) which calls for respect of human rights and gender responsive climate change actions.
“The Enhanced Gender Action Plan sets out the five priority areas that aim to advance knowledge and understanding of gender responsive climate action and its coherent mainstreaming in the implementation of the UNFCCC.” She said.
In recognition of the importance of conserving Uganda’s rich and unique bio diversity, she added, Government signed and ratified the Convention on the Biological Diversity (CBD) in 1992 and 1993 respectively. The CBD calls for conservation of biological diversity, sustainable use of its components and the fair and equitable sharing of its benefits.
She enumerated that the Uganda National Irrigation Policy (2018) promotes balanced growth across regions and the establishment of large, medium and small irrigation schemes in different parts of the country, while the revised mining and mineral policy (2016) has a principle that recognizes gender labor and children rights.
The Minister observed that women in Uganda are contributing to climate actions including the restoration of the degraded natural forest cover through planting indigenous tree species.
Up to 2,233 hectares of the annual planned 3,000 hectares (74%) of degraded natural forests was restored through planting indigenous tree species and bamboo.
Women are also participating in the resource management committees. According to the Ministry of Water and Environment database 2020, 86% of water and sanitation management committees, 75% of the water user management committees and 49% of dams have women in key positions.
Women further have been at the forefront of adapting to the new conditions of climate in an effort of producing food in their households through adaption. The use of renewable energy in order to save the environment has increased; with statistics indicating that 15% of women have adopted sustainable energy while 85% are using biomass for cooking.
She was optimistic that through the newly launched the Parish Development Model more Ugandans will be supported to increase their demand for goods and services and mainstream gender and climate actions.
She observed that as climate change continues to have a greater impact on those who are more reliant on natural resources to support their livelihoods, we must harness opportunities for the women, girls and vulnerable groups to play a leadership role in the sustainable management of Uganda’s natural resources.
“We must prioritize the inclusive nature-based solutions in the achievement of Uganda’s Vision 2040, the 2030 Agenda and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals.”
A host of Members of Parliament including the Chairperson Uganda Women Parliamentary Association (UWOPA) who is also the Woman MP Tororo, Hon. Sarah Opendi, the MP Nakaseke South Constituency, Hon. Lutamaguzi Semakula and Civil Society representatives led by the Executive Director Uganda Women’s Network (UWONET) Rita Aciro are also attending the session.