SEATINI Uganda Participates in a Virtual Regional Conference on the Implications of COVID-19 on Women’s Economic Empowerment in East Africa
SEATINI Uganda participated in a two day virtual regional conference on the implications of COVID 19 on Women’s Economic Empowerment in East African Community (EAC). The virtual conference, which was held from 8th to 9th September 2020 was organized by the Eastern African Sub Regional Support Initiative for Advancement of Women (EASSI).
Following the advent of COVID 19, EASSI launched a regional campaign in Eastern Africa to provide an equal voice for women in decision making in response to COVID-19 and the long-term impact planning in the post-COVID-19 recovery programs.
As part of this campaign, EASSI undertook research and conducted analysis of the impact of COVID-19 on selected economic sectors in the region including Agricultural Commodities (Food and horticulture) and Natural Resources; Trade and Survival of Small and Medium Enterprises; Foreign Direct Investments(FDI) and Remittances from Diaspora; Travel and Hospitality Industry; Rising Unemployment; and Budgetary implications, Financing and Taxation.
The purpose of this virtual conference was to share the findings of this analysis and thereby foster policy discourse, review and implementation.
The conference’s discussions centered around several issues including providing insights on the impact of COVID 19 on Women’s Economic Empowerment in the EAC; providing a platform for women affected directly by COVID-19 to share their lived experiences and the implications therein on Women Economic Empowerment (WEE) activism, policy and practice; enhancing public discourse on suitable policy and practice post COVID-19 recovery measures that foster Women’s Economic Empowerment as well as resilience in the face of similar catastrophes in the future.
Amb. Mariam Yassin Hagi Yussuf, the EASSI Board Chairperson while giving her opening remarks, noted that although women live in diverse settings, COVID 19 has equally affected them economically and socially. She also added that most Internally Displaced Persons especially women in refugee camps and humanitarian settings are more at risk of the negative economic impact of COVID-19 than others.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is causing declines in Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) flows and increase in capital flight since the developed and developing countries where FDIs originate have been hit hardest by the pandemic. The pandemic and the measures to contain its spread in the countries where migrants work have greatly affected remittance flows into Africa in general, and in the three East African Countries,” Ms. Jane Nalunga, the Executive Director, SEATINI Uganda said during her presentation.
She added that government needs to provide information and policy space to enable citizens and interested Civil Society Organizations to be part of the implementation of the Stimulus Packages.
Mr. Richard Okot Okello, Senior Commercial Officer, Ministry of Tourism, Trade and Industry pointed out that due to various COVID 19 preventive measures such as curfew, lock downs among others that restricted movement of people in Uganda and across the EAC borders, women traders suffered in terms of loss of incomes and livelihoods.
As part of her presentation, Ms. Jane Nalunga suggested some recommendations to mitigate the impact and aid women’s resilience as highlighted below;
Addressing the high cost of remittance transfer;
- Governments should put in place finance related regulatory frameworks that will reduce the cost of remit money;
- CSOs should put this issue of the cost of remit money on the advocacy agenda;
FDI and women’s Economic Empowerment;
- Governments should put in place trade and fiscal related regulatory frameworks that support women’s economic empowerment;
- CSOs especially women CSOs should engage government to ensure that the investment related policy frameworks promote and protect women’s rights to gainful employment, decent working condition and protect their land rights
Making the stimulus packages work for women’s Economic Empowerment;
- Governments of Kenya and Tanzania should provide information and policy space to enable citizens and interested CSOs to be part of the implementation of the stimulus package
- The CSOs, especially the women’s organizations should analyze and acquaint themselves with the provisions of the stimulus package and advocate for their review, where need be, and also closely monitor and engage their governments on their implementation in order to ensure they advance women’s economic empowerment
- CSOs should continue advocating for government to consider more social safety net measures for example income support to vulnerable households and the reallocation of the scarce resources to the social sectors especially health, education and water. This will necessitate more engagement by women COSs in the fiscal processes.
In her closing remarks, Hon. Sheila Kawamara, Executive Director, EASSI called upon EAC Partner States to develop and implement inclusive markets and also avail economic stimulus packages that particularly target women in the informal sector.