The Executive Director of Financial Deepening Uganda (FSDU), Jacqueline Muna Musiitwa has called for more gender equality in the financial sector.
In her keynote address at the “Ring the bell for gender equality” held Tuesday at Protea Hotel, Musiitwa started off her speech by congratulating everyone “because this event is the first of its kind for the stock exchange and the financial sector as a whole”.
“In celebrating International Women’s day and ringing the bell for gender equality, we are celebrating women in our workplaces and in society as well as reaffirming the values of a more inclusive workplace and nation as a whole where all genders have access to the same opportunities.
“Gender equality remains a fundamental human right. In Principle 15 of the National Objectives and Directive Principles of State Policy of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, the state is mandated to recognise the significant role that women play in society.”
Article 33 also emphasizes the rights of women to include full and equal dignity with men, as well as the duty of the State to provide the facilities and opportunities necessary to enhance the welfare of women to enable them to realise their full potential and advancement.
“Particularly, that right shall include equal opportunities in political, economic and social activities as well as the right to affirmative action for the purpose of redressing the imbalances created by history, tradition or custom. There have been other efforts on the national level to deal with matters of women in the workplace which have culminated into the enactment of the Employment (Sexual Harassment Regulations) of 2012. The government also domesticated the Global Gender Budgeting Initiative and the Gender and Macro-Economic Policy Management Initiative (GEPMI).”
To date, gender and equity budgeting is a mandate of the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, Ministry of Local Government and the Equal Opportunities Commission.
Through a partnership with the Private Sector Foundation (PSFU), Uganda became the first country in Africa to endorse the Gender Equality Seal for private enterprises.
In addition, in October 2017, the the Bank of Uganda and the Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development formulated the National Financial Inclusion Strategy 2017-2022 with emphasis on five pillars which are; Reduce financial exclusion and barriers to access financial services, Develop the credit infrastructure, build the digital infrastructure, deepen and broaden formal savings, investment and insurance usage, and protect and empower individuals with enhanced financial capability.
The NFIS articulates a vision for Uganda by 2022 in which all Ugandans have access to, and use, a broad range of quality and affordable financial services.
In particular, the NFIS admits that if large increases in financial inclusion are to be made, the demographic and geographic make-up of the country suggests there should be a focus on particular groups of people especially women.
“The statistics in Uganda however speak volumes. On the legislative front, we have made progress. But it is not enough. We still have to grapple with social norms and cultural practices that reinforce the subordinate status of women and downplay their contribution to the general pool of growth.
“Females make up 51% of the population. 35% of seats in Parliament are held by women. The gender wage gap in the private sector stands at 39%. In Uganda, women are less likely to own a mobile phone, be active users of mobile money (38% of men use mobile money versus 25% of women), have an account at a financial institution, save or borrow money and understand financial services. And yet, women form the bulk of savings groups also known as “nigiina”, SACCOs and investment clubs. The financial sector is largely a male dominated world. There are currently only two female CEOs of a financial institution in Uganda and the trends do not seem to promise much.”
Furthermore, despite women having generally been empowered, a few occupy top executive positions compared to men.
“In the banking sector for instance, men mostly occupy top executive positions leaving women to occupy the Non-executive roles. In Uganda, out of the 24 commercial banks available, women head only 3 banks; Finance Bank Trust Ltd, Pride Microfinance Ltd and Citibank Ltd. Out of the 24 licensed commercial banks in Uganda, there are 105 male board members and 34 female board members, which makes an average of 25.5% female to 74.5% male representation.”
The conference was organized by Capital Markets Authority (CMA) and the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE). The other guest speakers included; Paul Nabwiso the CEO of USE, Keith Kalyegira the CEO of CMA and Stefan Handoyo – East Africa Corporate Governance Program/IFC.
Among the panelists included; Robert Kabushenga – CEO Vision Group, Angella Kiryabwire Kanyima – Director, Legal and Board Affairs CMA, Miriam Musaali Ekirapa – CEO Alexander Forbes Uganda and Rose Lumumba – East Africa Corporate Governance Program, IFC.