Inspire girls and women to take up leadership positions

Date: Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Dr. Maxime Houinato, UN Women Country Representative (Blue suit), having a discussion with PSFU Executive Director, Mr. Gideon Badagawa, Ms. Anna Mutavati from UN Women and Mr. Riccardo Ridolfi of Equatorial power. Photo:UN Women/Aidah Nanyonjo

Dr. Maxime Houinato, UN Women Country Representative (Blue suit), having a discussion with PSFU Executive Director, Mr. Gideon Badagawa, Ms. Anna Mutavati from UN Women and Mr. Riccardo Ridolfi of Equatorial power. Photo:UN Women/Aidah Nanyonjo

“We have to inspire young girls and women to take up their positions in terms of how they harness their potential for economic empowerment,” Mr. Gideon Badagawa, the Executive Director for the Private Sector Foundation Uganda said this during a Breakfast meeting organized by UN Women for Uganda’s top business leaders and Chief Executive Officers. The event was held at Sheraton Hotel.

Badagawa said that, women must be supported to claim their space whether in leadership or decision making. He pledged continued effort towards girl child education, saying that it is through education that girls can be economically empowered.  “We must advocate for their education if want them to be what we want them to be,” he said.

The breakfast meeting intended to discuss ways to achieve Gender Inclusive Business in Uganda; To reinforce the UN’s engagement with the private sector and business leaders to step up innovative actions to advance Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Uganda; To collect recommendations from private sector partners, on the best and most efficient ways to improve Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment in Uganda. 

Dr. Maxime Houinato asked the private sector to go beyond the corporate social responsibility and integrate women into the core business, either as suppliers, distributors or employees.

“It’s not about the numbers of female employees working there, but the entire value chain of the business in terms of Governance, Suppliers, Logistics and the people you are being employed,” Dr Maxime said

He noted that companies need to be sensitised on the importance of integrating gender in the entire value chain of their operations.  Such companies/businesses that will incorporate women in their value chain will be supported to get more customers. They will also sign a commitment and will be tracked and recognised so that the public gets to know about them.

“Women’s economic power as consumers is higher than their demographic power /size. When women go for shopping, they will be selecting products produced by gender sensitive companies.  That’s why we want to promote and add some components to the gender seal to make it accountable so that women will control how companies are doing and contributing to gender into their business model,” Dr. Maxime added.

Dr. Gudula Naiga Basaza, a board member with Private Sector Foundation said that women will be trained and mentored in order not to compromise with quality within the companies they will be posted.

“They should not be given jobs just because they are women. They should be adding value to companies. We need to prepare them for such opportunities,” she added.

Participants called for the establishment of a database of women entrepreneurs as well as those who can ably represent women on different executive boards.       

“Every time, you are contacted to submit a name of a lady to sit on the Executive board, you start scratching your head.  There is no database where you can find them by just a click away. We need a database,” said Ms. Lydia Ochieng from   the Uganda Women Entrepreneurs Association Limited.

Dr. Maggie Kigozi, the President of Business Professional Women noted that the private sector was still doing badly in terms of women representation on the executive boards.

“Government is trying, but the Private sector is doing badly in terms of women sitting on the executive boards. It’s either 1 or two women out of seven Board members. We need to address this,” Dr. Kigozi said.

Other issues raised include, gender pay gap, making women resilient entrepreneurs, empowering grassroot women and women friendly services at work place such as setting up child care centres at work places.

A task force between the UN and the private sector was constituted to follow up on proposed actions and come up with a time frame of implementation. The members of the task force should include:  UN Women, UNDP, Business Professional Women (BPW), Private Sector Foundation (PSFU) and Equal Opportunities Commission.