BETTY AMONGIN’ WINS’ AS LANGO WOMEN DEMAND UWEP REVIVAL
By Mulengera Reporters
During the Lira City belated International Women’s Day celebrations held over the weekend, Women leaders from Lango sub region thanked President Yoweri Museveni for elevating and retaining their daughter Jane Ruth Aceng to the position of full Cabinet Minister but also demanded for more.
One of the demands related to the need to revive the UWEP initiative which was being implemented through the Ministry of Gender Labor and Social Development. Funded to the tune of roughly Shs35bn every Financial Year, Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Program (UWEP) had impacted on many grass root women groups through accessing them to easy startup capital which they would borrow under very friendly and flexible terms including interest being low and relatively longer repayment period.
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However, this was recently scrapped as the Museveni government endeavored to raise the hundreds of billions it required to roll out the Parish Development Model which Gen Museveni considers to be the magic wand that will kick poverty out of the Ugandan households.
During the Lira City celebrations, which delayed because Aceng was taking her time to mourn fallen Speaker Jacob Oulanyah, Lira City Deputy Mayor Rebecca Alwedo Ogole (speaking on behalf of fellow grassroots and community-based women leaders) implored President Museveni to use his clout to have UWEP revived. Rebecca Alwedo, who is also a leading Women rights activist operating under Lira Women Rights Coalition, explained that UWEP merited to be retained because it had performed better than all its counterpart programs or interventions such as the Youth Livelihood Program into which the GoU used to inject much more.
Saying she doesn’t precisely know about the experience of other parts of Uganda, Alwedo said that in Lango sub region UWEP had done so well: positively impacting on a lot of women who interacted with it. Taking her own Lira City as an example, the Deputy Mayor said the area women hadn’t only demonstrably benefited but had also used UWEP to demonstrate a lot of financial discipline by paying back the borrowed money under UWEP ahead of the designated time.
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That whereas the deadline for paying back the total of Shs380m which had been lent to them so far was 2024, Lira City women groups had paid back up to 278m as of April this year. Alwedo said that, much as PDM is a good program, inclusive of everybody, Women deserved something unique via UWEP because of the unique challenges they face including 15% of them being involved in unpaid labor offered at household level.
She said that UWEP had been the best way to lure many rural women into the money economy and doubted that PDM will equally cater for them. She asserted that women still require such affirmative action programs even when 35% of the positions they currently occupy in Parliament is considered to be such great improvement.
The cheerfulness with which the large crowd received Alwedo‘s UWEP-related submission pointed to the fact that the Gender Minister Betty Amongin, who has been very defensive of the program’s retention, hasn’t been giving her personal views but those of the ordinary women at the community/grassroots level. As we recently reported, those contradicting Among at the Cabinet level have been led by non-other than the Prime Minister Robinah Nabanja.
Alwedo, who actually represents women with disabilities (PWDs) in the Lira City Council as a Counselor and all female PWDs of Northern Uganda in NRM‘s NEC, thanked the ruling NRM for programs like SAGE under which elderly senior citizens get some monthly payments or grants from their government. She saluted SAGE, which is also rolled out through the Gender Ministry network, for increasing cash flow among the elderly in Lira City Council who use the monthly grants to prefictably contribute towards the payment of school fees for their school-going children. She suggested that the age at which one becomes eligible to benefit under SAGE be lowered from 74 to 65 years to benefit more senior citizens of Uganda.
While thanking Aceng for inviting Speaker Anita Among to be the chief guest (though she sent Minister Gorette Kitutu to represent her), the Lira City Deputy Mayor also called on Parliament to support efforts by Lira City authorities to streamline tourism activities so as to broaden revenue sources to deliver services to the people. She said Parliament should push government to fund the Lira City Council’s plans and determination to leverage on the rich Lango language and cultural heritage to streamline tourism activities.
She also demanded for the construction of a modern remand home for Lira City which she said is still grappling with the negative consequences of the LRA’s madness, which lasted for 22 years, because it created over 2,000 street children, orphans and deviants. The Deputy Mayor said some of these have remained street children until the time of getting married to fellow street children.
That some of these street children have produced their own children under the same street life. She asserted that the establishment of a modern remang home would strengthen the Lira City Council’s efforts to restore such children to moral functionality. She also called on President Museveni to support efforts to operationalize an Industrial Park for Lira City since the suitable location was long identified. She said that such an Industrial Park would avail area women with employment opportunities so that they are able to earn some money to sustain decent livelihood. (For comments on this story, call, text or whatsapp us on 0705579994, 0779411734, 0200900416 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org).