Women play a vital role in the survival and progress of our livelihoods; they are after all, major players in household food and nutrition security.
Globally, statistics show that women contribute 66% of the world’s work, produce 50% of the food available and yet earn only 10% of the agricultural income and own just 1% of property (UNDP, 2011). In Uganda, the picture is no different with four out of every five women in the country employed in agriculture. These facts go to show that women hold an important role in the production that fuels our economic growth and wellbeing. Although there have been advancements in women’s emancipation in recent years, there are still many existing barricades that impede women’s resilience to shocks of exclusion, poverty and traumatic stressors of hunger and malnutrition and in turn threaten our survival and progress.
In the national context, the social protection agenda is grounded in a governmental policy arena. In providing social protection, governments develop policies and programmes to address economic, environmental and social vulnerabilities to food insecurity and poverty. This in turn promotes the human rights of the marginalized groups and individuals. The core responsibility of any government should be to protect the people it governs against hardships through sustainable and well implemented socio-economic policies and programmes.
Earlier this year, a study was commissioned by FRA in partnership with War on Want, Northern Ireland and Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung to establish who bears the greatest brunt of women’s exclusion in agriculture. Findings from this study that was carried out in Ngora and Amuria districts revealed a great number of gaps that increase women’s vulnerability to shocks of poverty, hunger and malnutrition. The most outstanding among these was the gap in Uganda’s commitments to promote social protection, particularly poor implementation of policies.
It is agreed that Uganda has an elaborate national and international legal, policy and institutional framework to protect and support women’s rights, prohibit discrimination and address their exclusion from development interventions. The development plans in the Amuria and Ngora districts recognize the challenges women face, and different by-laws have been put in place to mitigate these challenges.
However, the major challenge that continues to burden women is the weaknesses in the implementation of these laws and policies. Given our competing agendas, what are our roles as rights holders, CSOs and development partners in the demand, design, implementation and delivery of social protection interventions? One way to realize social protection is through cooperating for development through an approach of mutual accountability. The principle behind this approach is that it promotes an equal partnership between duty bearers and rights holders. This approach can be a key means of ensuring compliance to different social protection policies and programmes.
Over the years, FRA and her partners have observed that social accountability is largely approached in the context of mobilizing citizens to demand accountability as rights holders. However, few efforts have been undertaken that allow citizens to appreciate the roles and responsibilities they hold with duty bearers. The roles and responsibilities held by rights holders and duty bearers alike constitute a social contract.
Future actions and interventions at various levels by CSOs and other development partners should thus be centered on strengthening this contract, providing platforms for mutual accountability and enhancing the capacity of rights holders to police and demand for accountability of government social protection commitments.