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We Will Not Leave You Walk Alone: Gender Committee Pledges To Help Actors Push For Social Protection System

UPFSP’s interface with the Committee on Gender, Labour and Social Development. on Tuesday 21st Sept 2021

“As a Committee, we will be ready to work with the Forum to ensure that all Ugandans are safeguarded against vulnerabilities. There should be inclusiveness and harmonisation of the different social protection interventions,” said Flavia Kabahenda Rwabuhoro, the Committee Chairperson.

This was during the Forum’s first interface with the Committee, under whose mandate social protection falls, in the 11th Parliament on Tuesday 21st September 2021. The Committee of Gender, Labour and Social Development is one of the critical avenues for the advancement of social protection in terms of legislation and resource allocation.

Parliament’s Committee on Gender, Labour and Social Development has pledged to work with the Uganda Parliamentary Forum on Social Protection (UPFSP) to ensure that the national vision for a comprehensive social protection system is achieved.  

According to Kabahenda, there is a need to scale up synergies in the social protection interventions and ensure that these reach the last beneficiary such as children. The Social Protection Bill therefore as highlighted by the Forum would go a long way in addressing this.

Members of the Committee raised concerns on the adequacy and consistency of the Senior Citizens Grant (Uganda’s major direct cash transfer programme targeting older persons aged 80 years and above). They argued that a number of their eligible constituents remain excluded from the programme due to the non-registration or lack of national IDs.

“The Senior Citizens Grant may be of small value, however, we need to ensure that even that is consistently paid out to beneficiaries. We also need to collectively demand that the age of eligibility is reduced from the current 80 years,” said Rosemary Fortunate Nantongo, Shadow Gender Minister.

In the face of the coronavirus pandemic, Hon. Hillary Innocent Kiyaga, the representative for Mawokota North highlighted the plight of the different players in the creative economy such as artists whose livelihood has been curtailed due to the restrictions to control the spread of COVID-19.  

According to the Chairperson of the Forum, Jacob Richards Opolot, the current age of eligibility of 80 years was on a commitment by government that this will be lowered progressively until we get to the recommended 65years as per international standards on old age.  He argued that with the national roll-out achieved, it is time to start discussions on the consistency and value of the grant.  

In her submission, International Labour Organisation’s Mwenya Kapasa also noted that as an organisation, they are working to promote a systems approach to social protection. A system that will create a basis on which all the different interventions can rely.

“System building cannot happen overnight. However, it is important to start somewhere and the Senior Citizens Grant is a basis to push for other contingencies,” she argued adding that there is a need to present a business case for social protection so that there is an appreciation that social protection is not a consumptive expenditure but rather an investment.

While making a presentation to members on behalf of the Forum, the Coordinator, Patrick Katabaazi Kiconco highlighted the priority advocacy areas in the 11th Parliament that shall include; To ensure that the age of eligibility is revised downwards to 65years; comprehensive implementation of the Social Protection Policy and obtain long term financing for Social Protection in the National Budget.

Other issues are; equip members of the Forum with knowledge and information to technically scrutinize and review various laws and policies around SP; share evidence on the rationale and benefits of Social Protection in an attempt to lobby the highest levels of Government and Diplomatic Call and facilitate drafting of a Private Members Bill in respect to ring-fencing resources for Social Protection

The other stakeholders who attended the meeting included among others, Robert Musoke, the Social Policy Officer and Daphine Akampurira, the coordinator of the Uganda Social Protection Platform.

The Committee welcomed the request for a closer working relationship and pledged to be available on any engagements and opportunities for capacity building aimed at promoting social protection in the country.

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