by Kevin

Equal Opportunities Commission held a validation workshop to review the fourth Report on the State of Equal Opportunities in Uganda. The workshop was held at Silver Springs Hotel, Bugolobi on Thursday 7th September, 2017.

Participants included those from Ministries, Departments, Agencies, Civil Society and Development Agencies.

The workshop was opened by the Secretary to the Commission who was represented by Mr. Savio Kakooza. He welcomed the participants and expressed gratitude for their presence and valuable time. He explained the EOC mandate which is to give effect to the State’s Constitutional mandate to eliminate discrimination and inequalities against any individual or group of persons on grounds of sex, age, race, colour, ethnic origin, tribe, birth, creed or religion, and take affirmative action in favor of groups marginalized on the basis of gender, age, disability or any other reason created by history, tradition or custom for the purpose of redressing imbalances which exist against them.

He urged everyone to participate and hoped that their recommendations would provide valuable input for the report.

The key note address was given by Mrs. Sylvia Muwebwa Ntambi, Chairperson of the Equal Opportunities Commission who welcomed the participants and expressed her gratitude for their attendance. She hoped that discussions made at the validation workshop would contribute towards formulation of a final report with a clear indication on the state of equal opportunities in our country. She added that the report will work as a tool for duty bearers to redress societal imbalances as well as promote equal opportunities for all. As key stakeholders and resource persons, in the areas that constitute the focus of this Report, it is my strong conviction that the process we are undertaking today will greatly enrich the final product.”

The Chairperson advocated that significant progress has been made by the Government of the Republic of Uganda in redressing societal imbalances and promoting equal opportunities for all as evidenced by the status of participation of the marginalized groups in decision-making processes at national and lower levels, the enactment/passing of a number of all-inclusive legislations and policies, and the existence of various special programmes/affirmative action interventions that focus on improving the social wellbeing of the marginalized groups.

Participants at the validation workshop

Issues relating to the content of the report were presented by Mr. Daniel Mabirizi the Acting Head of Research, Monitoring and Evaluation.

The report comprises eight chapters and the contents include; (i) Overview on Marginalised Groups, (ii) Annual Performance and Achievements of EOC, (iii) Status of implementation of recommendations from the previous ARSEO FY2015/16, (iv) State of Compliance to Gender and Equity in planning and budgeting (v) State of Equal Opportunities in the health sector, (vi) State of Equal Opportunities in the social development sector (vii) State of physical accessibility in built up environments (vii) Recommendations and Conclusions.

Several speakers at the workshop noted that the Annual Report on the State of Equal Opportunities was timely and had greatly improved from previous reports. The issues given particular prominence where on the state of physical accessibility in built up environments, state of equal opportunities in the health sector and social development sector.

One speaker from Mayuge district expressed her fear about the drawing line on the allocated budgets for health facilities. “The budgeted framework papers form the basis for performance. The challenge in the budget execution is daunting but not insurmountable.”

Mr. Arnold Kwesiga expressed his concern about discrimination of PWD’s in health facilities. They lack privacy in hospital rooms, there are no sing language interpreters to assist them and are faced with poverty hence failure to pay medical bills. This leads to criminalization and later jail. He recommended that the National Health Insurance Scheme should first and foremost target the poor and not the employed. This should be treated as an emergency.

A number of speakers raised the issue of physical inaccessibility in schools, public toilets, public transport, markets and offices. Mr. Alex Ssebagala took into consideration all the issues raised in this regard and pledged to share the feedback with the Engineers and physical planners at Kampala City Council Authority.

Mr. Happy Tumwebaze from Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development responded to issues to do with Youth Livelihood programme, while Joshua Kyalimpa from Uganda Women Entrepreneurship programme (UWEP) responded to questions raised about loans given to empower women and their businesses.

Several interventions demonstrated that progress is being made in empowering marginalized groups like the older persons, youth and women. On a positive note speakers from Nakasongola and Apac explained the steps Social Assistance Grants for Empowerment (SAGE) has taken to enrich the marginalized people in their districts. A call was made for Government to create programmes to empower child headed families which is also becoming a challenge in rural areas.

A number of innovative recommendations were suggested and discussed at the validation workshop and EOC pledged to include them in the report which is to be launched on 19th September, 2017.

The meeting was closed by Member Patrobas Sirabo Wafula who expressed his appreciation for all the participants who spared time to attend the workshop.

Mrs. Sylvia Muwebwa Ntambi, Mr. Bernard Mujuni, Member Zamina Malole and Member Patrobas Wafula attending the validation workshop.

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