Uganda Peoples Congress
Women in Uganda
The Uganda Case: Country Statement
- The Republic of Uganda is a landlocked country in the centre of Africa. It sits astride the equator and borders with the Sudan in the north, Kenya in the east, Tanzania and Rwanda in the South and Zaire in the west.
- Uganda is a high plateau land with an altitude of over 1,000 meters above sea level. Mount Elgon (4,300 meters) bound it in the east; in the west by Ruwenzori range (5,100 meters); and the Mufumbira Mountains (4,100 meters) in the southwest.
- Lake Victoria, the second largest fresh water mass in the world and the source of the River Nile, constitutes its southern border with Tanzania. The River Nile bisects Uganda almost in the middle and flows from the south through Lake Kyoga to Lake Albert/Mobutu and continues through the Sudan and Egypt into the Mediterranean Sea.
- The above physical features gives Uganda a mild pleasant climate with a mean temperature of 26-C. The mean annual rainfall ranges between 500 to 2,250 mls. Lakes swamps and rivers occupy 20% of Uganda. The rest is fertile farmland characterized by lush vegetation or open Savannah.
- Uganda is endowed with a wealth of natural resources and because of favorable climate and soil conditions, the country can generate enough food to feed itself and a surplus for export. In addition, a number of export crops such as coffee, cotton and tea are produced.
- Major tourist attractions include the source of the Nile; the countrys varied physical features and the countrys four national parks. The spectacular Murchison waterfalls where all the waters of the Nile converge into a gorge 4.5 meters wide and fall 70 meters downstream characterizes Kabalega. Kabalega also has abundant wild life, including the rare white rhino. Ruwenzori National Park has a rich bird life; a rare gazelle called the Uganda Kob and herds of hippopotamus. In Kidepo National Park, there are zebras, giraffes and ostriches. The newly established Lake Mburo National Park has large herds of elands, antelopes and different species of snake and lizards.
- In all the parks, there are elephants, lions, leopards, baboons and all other tropical animals. Gorillas can be found in the Mufumbira game reserve.
- The Republic of Uganda covers an area of 236,000 sq. kms and according to the 1980 Census, the population was given as 12.6 million. The women formed slightly over 50% of the population.
- A summary of the demographic characteristic of Uganda is as follows:-
Total Population 12.6 million
Rural population 11.3 million (90%)
Urban population 1.3 million (10%)
Male/Female Ratio 97:100
Average population density 66 per sq. km.
Life expectancy 50 years
Annual growth rate 2.8%
Population under 5 years 19%
Women within child-bearing
Age (15-49) 23%
Population over 52 years 11%
Literacy rate 48% (female 36%)
Crude birth rate 47 per 1000
Infant mortality rate 97 per 1000
- The most outstanding demographic characteristic of the Uganda population is the high infant mortality rate. The main cause is the destruction of the medical and social services during the 1970s with the result that diseases like measles, diarrhea diseases, malnutrition which were controlled in the 1960s have become rampant. Even diseases, which had been eradicated in the 1960s such as polio mallets, have re-appeared. The situation presents urgent challenges to development planning, covering the rehabilitation of medical and social services, as well as community education, with a view to revive vigorous primary health care activities.
REVIEW OF UGANDAS POPULATION ACTIVITIES
- Ugandas population activities consist primarily of Planned Parenthood, maternal and childcare, education (formal and informal) and collection of demographic data. Unfortunately for Uganda, much of the data for January 1980 census was lost and what remained cannot be representative of the whole country. Government is making arrangements to mount a demographic sample survey, if carefully carried out, would give a fair reflection of the whole countrys demographic picture. The objective is to use the results of the survey in the development plan programs until next census in 1990.
- Presently every effort is being made to rehabilitate and reconstruct the country so that normal development can once again be undertaken and enable the country to play her proper role in the international community. For nearly a decade (1971-1979) Uganda was under a military regime and the period was characterized by destruction of lives, economy and social services. The task of reconstruction is recognized as a task that is to be performed by every Ugandan at every level. It is with this realization that the Government has embarked on a major mobilization program of all able-bodied persons in the endeavor. Considering that women form more than 50 per cent of all population, the success of the reconstruction program so far means that the women of Uganda have positively taken up the challenge and are participating effectively in the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the country.
- The World Bank reported last year-1983 that Ugandas GDP grew on average by 5 per cent per annum during 1981 and 1982 and that this growth was probably sustained into 1983. The nature of the agricultural activities in Uganda is such that the women play the major role. Much of this growth can be attributed to the efforts of the women in the rehabilitation and reconstruction of the new Uganda.
- Organized Planned Parenthood activities in Uganda were started in the early 1950s. In 1957 the Family Planning Association of Uganda was established. Planned Parenthood activities suffered just like any other organization in the 1970s but its activities are being revived.
- In the 1960s, Uganda was one of the leading countries the world over in the Primary Health Care programs and activities. The programs involved basic health services such as health education, training of village health services such as health environmental sanitation, immunization, and provision of wholesome water supply and encouragement of prolonged breast feeding and nutrition education for mothers and school children. In all these, active community participation, record keeping and in-built evaluation system were the essential part of the program. The Kasangati Health Center near Kampala and attached to the Institute of Public Health, Makerere University Medical School, started this community health model in the 1950s. It was the work done at Kasangati and the implementation of the Government program of the 1960, which formed the basis for the ULMA-ATA declaration of 1978 on Primary Health Care. Government announced in 1983 the revival of the national plan of action on Primary Health Care and the implementation of the plan has begun.
- The women of Uganda have welcomed the National Plan on Primary Health Care. In October 1983, the President of the Republic of Uganda personally launched the Expanded Immunization Program and oral rehydration therapy, both of which are being implemented. In conjunction with the UNICEF, equipment necessary for the program has started arriving in the country and is being utilized. The Government program includes:
Rehabilitation of rural health centers and dispensaries, provision of essential drugs and basic equipment and revival of school health education scheme.
- The Governments Recovery Program include expansion and introduction of appropriate technologies which reduce the womens work load in the fields and at home so that they have more time for participation in Health Care activities and leisure.
- For the three years 1984-86 Government has formulated a plan for effective dissemination of information on health education, maternal and child health and Planned Parenthood. Under this plan, workshops are to be organized for the various categories of persons including Members of Parliament at national, regional and district levels. Physicians and other categories of health workers who are to execute the national plan have been identified and are undergoing the necessary orientation training.
- The Uganda Planned Parenthood Association held a five-day workshop in January 1984. High-ranking officials attended the Workshop from Government ministries, Makerere University Medical School, Church Organizations and other agencies. The participants discussed Ugandas demographic problems and made recommendation for encouraging the Planned Parenthood Association Movement and Service in Uganda.
- A training scheme for nurses and midwives in maternal and health clinics has started. It is planned that by August 1986, 60 hospitals will be providing Planned Parenthood services in addition to the existing net work of the 60 clinics being managed by the Uganda Parenthood Association. Training courses for tutors and heads of health training institutions were started in March 1984 and the training or other cadres is continuing. Family planning materials and related equipment worth 300,000 United States Dollars have been offered to and accepted by the Planned Parenthood Association of Uganda to equip all the Maternal and Child Health Clinics.
WOMENS PARTICIPATION IN POPULATION PROGRAMMES
- Uganda has no law prohibiting women from participating in any field of endeavor. The women have the same freedom as men to pursue any profession or employment. A woman and a man doing the same job are paid the same salary and are subject to the same terms and conditions of service. The Ugandan woman is free to marry a man of her choice.
- Despite the law being non-discriminatory, there are still some traditional and cultural inhibitions and taboos which work against women and hinder their effective participation in population programs. A typical example is here a father has a daughter and a son in school. Should that father face financial difficulties, he would sell his bull to maintain the son in school but would be most reluctant to do the same for the daughter even if the daughter is the more brilliant and promising of his two children. It is this kind of traditional mentality which accounts as the main factor for the lower literacy rate amongst the women of Uganda.
- There are extremely good schools for girls in Uganda. The numbers, however are no where near the number of boys schools. In the co-educational secondary schools the proportion of girls in such schools is low.
- The women of Uganda like the men-folk suffered greatly during the 1970s. There are in society today a large number of widows and orphans; primarily their widowed mothers are looking after the latter.
- Government has a program to assist the widows and orphans. This program includes the training of those widows who need practical skills to make themselves self-reliant and the payment of school fees for the orphans by Government.
- Uganda law provides that where a husband dies intestate, 75% of his property should go to his children, 15% to his wife, 1% to the official heir and 9% to the rest of his dependents. Where a husband dies leaving a will, the Uganda High Court accepts the provisions of the will subject to normal processes, which obtain in many countries.
- The inhibitions for effective participation in population programs which the women in Uganda face are not dictated by law, but by traditions. There are several women organizations in Uganda. The organized groups of women are regarded as crucial in spearheading the participation of women in population activities. Most of such groups are in urban centers and work has begun to reach the majority of women who live in the rural areas.
- The responsibility borne by the women of Uganda in the population programs and activities both in the urban and rural areas differ only in degree from the rest of Africa. The situation in Uganda is rapidly changing and giving more and more opportunities to women to participate effectively in public life. This is, however, a very optimistic statement. In order to encourage the process Government has announced the intention to bring before Parliament a Bill on Womens Charter, which is expected to lay emphasis on further legal protection of women against traditional and customary constraints.
- The Uganda Delegation wishes to thank the Directorate of the United Nations Fund for Population Activities for the assistance the Directorate is presently giving to Uganda. The UNFPA is currently funding certain projects in Uganda. It is our hope that the assistance will be expanded and we want to give the assurance that the women of Uganda are determined to play a very active role in all Population Problems and Activities.
12th September, 1984
International Conference Center, Kampala