We are delighted to publish this guest blog from our friends at Equality Now Uganda about their amazing work in tackling the scourge of inequality in their country.
There is immense harm in Uganda caused by inequality, including dispossession and associated anxiety, and this is the main reason why Equality Now Uganda came into being.
National investment preferences in key social sectors such as health, education and agriculture, habitually benefit the wealthy. If you are poor, your chances to access quality medical attention, to educate your children or thrive in the agricultural sector are much reduced.
Girls often drop out of school because they cannot afford sanitary pads during their periods, and a lack of education for girls contributes to high rates of early marriages. In fact, Uganda has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world, with 40 per cent of girls marrying before the age of 18, and 10 per cent marrying before age 15. The combination of these factors creates life-time gender inequality.
Unemployment rates are soaring but, in many cases, jobs (especially those in public offices and national institutions) are largely dominated by people from a particular region of the country. The job market is not based on merit. Youth are particularly affected by socio-economic and political inequalities in areas such as; education, employment, digital divide, land rights based on age, gender, ethnicity, income, social norms, political affiliation, and sexuality among others.
Uganda also has a regressive tax system that places the tax burden on the majority who are already poor. The numbers of rich people have swelled and inequalities between the rich and the poor have deepened because the working environment doesn’t allow the poor to run any venture successfully.
Land is a valuable resource, and is the main source of production, but inequality has made it a preserve of the wealthy and politically-connected individuals, thereby depriving poor people of their livelihoods. Additionally, there is a structural and historical injustice that deprives women of their land rights to the extent that they don’t have heritable rights. Though women can buy land, there are few who can afford it due to extreme poverty and this only serves to further entrench inequality.
Overall, the problems worsen when people are from a marginalised group such as those who struggle with disability, illiteracy and mental illness but also those who are albino and those who are elderly.
And that is the Ugandan story dating back a couple of decades now. However, we should all recognise the fact that our politicians - especially those in the ruling party from the top - won’t believe that there is any problem with the system. So, it’s on this basis that a group of activists formed Equality Now Uganda, an independent, not-for-profit, civil society organisation to respond to these outrageous inequalities. The organisation seeks to draw global attention to the scourge of inequality which has already inflicted terrible wounds on Uganda.
We cannot afford to let this unequal system continue ruining our lives, our children's lives and the future generations to come. Through Equality Now Uganda, the citizenry at local and national levels will be empowered to better understand their rights and roles in building an equal, inclusive society based on participatory processes. Through monitoring and documentation of all forms of inequality, conducting advocacy and policy engagements, and strategic litigation, the organisation seeks to make people learn how to speak and stand up for their equal rights, with a view to disrupting the status quo and advocating for an equal and peaceful Uganda.
The group undertakes to instigate real issues, coming up from the grassroots, after interacting with the people to inform debates and shape the policy-making for the betterment of all. However, we are very mindful of the uphill task ahead of us coupled with all sorts of challenges ranging from the structural working environment to scarce financial resources to run the projects in scattered areas of the country.
This article cannot finish without expression of our heartfelt gratitude to Dr Wanda Wyporska, the Executive Director at The Equality Trust and her team for extending us this opportunity to share our story. Together, we can smash inequality!
EQUALITY NOW UGANDA | DEO WALUSIMBI | Programs Manager
P. O. Box 28077 K'la Uganda
Telephone: +256 774 846 003 | +256 701 066 350
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | email@example.com
This is a guest blog and the views of the author are not necessarily those of The Equality Trust.