Uganda’s economy is picking up again after being hampered by Covid – but would do much better if women were given a greater role, according to a report.
The Uganda Economic Update (UEU), released last week, says it is essential for both the short and long term future of the country that gender inequalities are addressed.
“Uganda’s economic recovery will be faster, stronger, and more sustainable if it brings more women into the centre of profitable economic activity,” said Jennifer Solotaroff, Senior Social Development Specialist, and co-author of the UEU.
“Not investing in women deprives households and the economy of the contributions they would make and slows its transition out of agriculture.”
The report urges Uganda to keep girls in school; invest in interventions to ease women’s unpaid care work responsibilities; create more time for women’s wage employment or entrepreneurship; pass and enforce laws protecting gender-equal rights for heirs and descendants to inherit land and other family assets; improve financial literacy among women, increase women’s access to formal financial services; meet women’s demand for more credit by passing laws prohibiting gender discrimination in access to credit; and promote alternative methods to establish women’s creditworthiness.
The benefits of investing in women’s marketable job skills and entrepreneurship will spread to the whole of Ugandan society, it said.
According to the report, Uganda can expect a growth of close to four per cent next ear and 5.5 per cent in 2023.
The predictions are down on what was forecast six months ago due to the continuing affects of the pandemic.
The UEU says the country is likely to experience a “stop/start” recovery under a greater percentage of the population are vaccinated against Covid.
“To ensure an inclusive economic recovery, faster deployment and widespread coverage of the vaccine is critical,” said Mukami Kariuki, World Bank Country Manager for Uganda.
“It is encouraging to note that in January 2022, schools will be opened; and support to micro, small and medium enterprises has been prioritized to stimulate job creation.
“Staying the course will require sustained prudent and transparent fiscal and debt management.”
The update notes that there has been a rise in poverty and household vulnerabilities, widening of inequalities, and a significant threat looms to human capital development, especially in the education sector where schools have been fully or partially closed for a large part of the past two years.
“Even with higher growth prospects, per capita GDP will remain well below the target of the Third National Development Plan, meaning Uganda will now take longer to become a lower-middle-income country,” said Richard Walker, Senior Economist, and co-author of the UEU report.
“Significant uncertainty remains on the evolution of Covid-19; weather shocks are a perennial threat; while lower revenues, spending pressures and adjustments to the government’s debt profile could jeopardize Uganda’s hard-earned macroeconomic stability.”
On the upside, commodity prices have recovered, digital technologies and the digital economy continue to support new ways of operating and doing business, and the potential for Ugandan women to drive the recovery is enormous, but only if they have fair and equal opportunities to reach their full potential.
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