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    "Engendering" Uganda's National Export Strategy


    International Trade Forum - Issue 3-4/2008

    Note: Boundaries, names and designations used do not imply endorsement or acceptance by the International Trade Centre.

    Uganda is changing its policies and planning to bring women closer to the heart of export strategy.

    While women own about 40% of private businesses in Uganda and some 30% of women in business are exporting, women's role in socio-economic development is still seen to be peripheral.

    Uganda has enjoyed strong annual growth in exports in recent years and has made progress in diversifying its export base. However, much needs to be done if it is to realize by 2012 its National Export Strategy (NES) targets of increasing annual revenue to $5 billion per year (from around $1.8 billion), achieving a 16% contribution to gross domestic product and raising the per capita export ratio to $200 (from $82).

    Uganda's gender policy was revised in 2007, so it was deemed an opportune time to undertake the "engendering of the NES." A multi-stakeholder team was established under the coordination of the Uganda Export Promotion Board, comprising representatives of priority sectors, key ministries (Ministry of Tourism, Trade and Industry; Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development; and Ministry of Education), civil society organizations for women (such as the Centre for Economic Empowerment of Women in Africa and the Uganda Women Entrepreneurs Association Limited) and private sector organizations (the Federation of Uganda Employers and the Private Sector Foundation of Uganda), as well as academics from Makerere University (Kampala).

    A simple vision was articulated: "a dynamic and competitive export sector with more participation of women". The benefits of addressing gender consideration were seen as fundamental to ensuring adequate buy-in of the stakeholders. It was also stressed that there should be a balance of men and women in the stakeholder team.

    The team decided to focus on four key sectors identified in the NES (coffee, commercial crafts, tourism and dairy). These sectors were chosen according to five main criteria: contribution and relevance to national socio-economic goals; growth in international markets; areas where women have demonstrated high potential for entrepreneurship and investment but their capacity is hampered by factors such as finance, information and skills; areas with high potential of value addition and capacity for growth and sustainability; and areas where production resources (competitive advantage) are readily available but not equitably shared by men, women and vulnerable groups.


    Uganda: Strategies to put women entrepreneurs on the map

    1. Mainstream the Ugandan Gender Policy into the export sector
    2. Review and modernize the Land Act to reflect current thinking
    3. Effect cultural change and attitude towards women and property ownership rights
    4. Enhance rural women's capacity to increase volumes of production with better quality and prices
    5. Develop a system of gender equity measurement and representation
    6. Streamline the commercial environment
    7. Ensure women have adequate information in business registration, licensing and commercial justice
    8. Develop and strengthen clusters for sectors that present high potential for women to export
    9. Enhance the managerial competitive capability of both women and men in export markets
    10. Improve the technical competencies along the production value chain
    11. Build entrepreneurial competencies among existing, potential and aspiring women exporters
    12. Build capacity through training of more women and men in export quality management
    13. Have an active data bank on global product requirements
    14. Widely disseminate market information to grass-roots producers
    15. Widen instruments for collateral to access financing
    16. Create long-term export financing accessible to women
    17. Increase trade finance outreach
    18. Enhance capacity of women to formulate bankable project proposals.