More funding is being directed to gender and equity programmes in Uganda, but where exactly is the money going?
Our new assessment of national funding for women’s economic empowerment (WEE) in Uganda has highlighted an increase in resources allocated to gender and equity programmes over the last five years (2015/16 – 2020/21). However, allocations for WEE remain generally low, the released funds are often less than what has been approved, and the utilised funds less than what has been released. The study, conducted by the Civil Society Budget Advocacy Group (CSBAG) and commissioned by Publish What You Fund, also found that a lack of disaggregated data means that the support targeted at women and girls is likely to be lower than the estimates suggest.
Women’s economic empowerment is central to realising women’s rights and gender equality. The study aimed at improving understanding of how the Government of Uganda is supporting WEE, as well as women’s financial inclusion and women’s empowerment collectives. It focused on sectors that take a lead in targeting WEE and have programmes which explicitly target women and girls, including the social development sector, agriculture, education, health, water and environment, and energy.
Key findings of the study ‘Assessing National Funding for Women’s Economic Empowerment in Uganda’ include:
- In the financial year 2016/17, UGX 4.4 trillion was allocated towards interventions that address gender and equity (representing 24% of total allocations to the selected sectors). This increased to UGX 9.9 trillion in 2019/20, for 18 programmes (representing 44% of total allocations to the selected sectors). It is critical to note that most funding is aggregated, which may overestimate the funds that directly target women.
- The number of women enterprise groups funded by the Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Programme (UWEP) increased from 2,334 projects in 2016/17 to 4,041 in 2020/21. UGX 20.2 billion (73%) has been repaid, of which UGX 10.7 billion has gone back into funding new groups.
The Government of Uganda has increasingly recognised the need to economically empower women, including realising their rights, economic growth, reducing poverty, promoting health care, and attaining quality education and welfare. For example, the study highlights that the requirement to conduct gender and equity responsive planning and budgeting has helped to increase allocations and expenditures to women’s economic empowerment. However, national and local government agencies do not disaggregate some of the expenditures, which hinders the tracking of funds that specifically target women’s economic empowerment.
The study makes a number of specific recommendations to enhance gender responsive transparency and accountability, including more sex-disaggregated budget and expenditure data, better tracking systems for committed funds, more accessible information on aid funds and more dissemination of performance reports in user-friendly formats.
Sophie Nampewo of CSBAG, co-author of the report said:
“We would like to see more transparency in government funding, to ultimately allow Ugandan citizens and other stakeholders to better understand what is being done to support these areas and to track the government’s progress towards its ambitious Vision 2040.”
Leah Eryenyu, member of the project advisory committee for Uganda, said:
“While some findings in the report paint a grim picture of funding for women’s economic empowerment, there is evidence of increasing support towards resourcing for gender equality which is encouraging. But we also know that this only provides a partial picture of which women are actually being reached and with what support. Policymakers, donors, and gender advocates need more detailed information to know how to best allocate funds and address funding gaps. The urgency of understanding funding to women’s economic empowerment is intensified by the COVID-19 pandemic and its economic fallout which has threatened, and in some cases reversed, progress on gender
equality and women’s economic empowerment.”
 The selected sectors were health, education, social development, agriculture, water and environment, and energy.