In a bid to further enhance the capacity of local governments in Uganda, the School of Women and Gender Studies, Makerere University carried out a comprehensive assessment of the postgraduate diploma in Gender and Local Economic Development (GLED) to review its relevance and establish strategies for improvement.
GLED is a one-year course offered at the School of Women and Gender Studies, in collaboration with the Ministry of Local Government; Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development and UN Women. The course focuses on introducing and activating Local Government capacity to work with relevant stakeholders on developing integrated and gender equitable Local Economic Development promotion strategies that are grounded in thorough understanding of the local economy to ensure the achievement of a coherent, sustainable and equitable development outcome that supports Uganda’s development vision. Since its inception in 2010, the course has attracted a total of 106 participants, with 58.3% male and 41.7% female and has recorded one of the highest completion rates in the University.
At a consultative workshop held at Metropole Hotel, Kampala on 16th September, 2016, stakeholders, including staff from the School of Women and Gender Studies, officials from the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, and representatives from Planning, Community Development and Production Units of district local governments discussed the key highlights from the assessment with a view of outlining strategies that will direct future delivery of the GLED course.
According to the assessment report presented by Dr Tabitha Mulyampiti and Dr Florence Kyoheirwe Muhanguzi, Senior Lecturers at the School of Women and Gender Studies, GLED participants attained skills and knowledge to conduct gender analysis, gender-sensitive planning, community mobilization and formulation of gender responsive management systems that enable effective utilization of resources at local level. The course was also noted to be highly relevant in the operations of local governance. At district level, the alumni were reportedly instrumental in facilitating the human resource functions, in particular provision of technical support on gender analysis and mainstreaming the District Development Plan. At community level, GLED alumni were associated with the creation of a foundation for steady improvement in livelihoods and gender relations among the poor and marginalized groups and at an individual level, the course was hailed for improving the participants’ career paths, with about 45.7% of the interviewed alumni having been promoted to senior positions at their workplace.
Participants at the workshop made a number of recommendations to improve the programme. These include reviewing the programme to introduce a special course unit on gender budgeting and equity, exploring linkages with other Universities to extend the programme closer to people, upgrading the programme to masters level, introduction of a refresher course for GLED resource persons/lectures, enrich course delivery through use of resource persons from partner institutions and including the course in the national assessment system so that its impact is assessed annually.
In her presentation on GLED and the Gender Policy Terrain in Uganda, Ms Jane Mpagi Sanyu, Director, Gender at the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, noted that the price of not addressing gender concerns is heavy and likely to slow economic development. She said GLED fits well in the national and international policies laid out to address gender parity and is instrumental in skilling officials involved in service delivery at community level. “Service delivery in Local Governments is increasingly becoming gender sensitive because of the skills offered through this programme,” she said.
In his remarks, the Principal of CHUSS, Prof. Edward K. Kirumira, applauded the School of Women and Gender Studies for the progress made in enhancing local government capacity through the GLED programme, noting that the image of the University is shaped by what its staff do in terms of service delivery to communities and advisory to government institutions.
The Dean of the School of Women and Gender Studies, Assoc. Prof. Josephine Ahikire, further emphasized the relevance of the programme to national development. She noted that the GLED course had been acknowledged as an approach able to solve local problems for sustainable development. “In many districts, gender responsive planning is taking root as a result of the programme,” she said.
She expressed gratitude to Ms Assumpta Tibamwenda, Technical Advisor at the Ministry of Local Government; Ms Jane Mpagi Sanyu, Director Gender at the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development and the UN Women Country Representative Hodan Addou for their efforts in introducing the course at Makerere University.
She also acknowledged the invaluable contributions made by the alumni of the GLED course, district local government officials and the staff of the School of Women and Gender Studies in compiling the report.
UN Women Country Representative Hodan Addou emphasized the significance of the GLED course in ensuring inclusive growth and thereby transforming the lives of Ugandans, particularly the poor and marginalized. “The establishment of this course which is a sub-component of the Local Economic Development Programme was a significant milestone that aimed at creating a pool of gender experts to facilitate and strengthen Local Government capacities for gender mainstreaming and realization of equity issues in the overall development process,” she noted.
The workshop was moderated by Dr Florence Kyoheirwe Muhanguzi, Dr Consolata Kabonesa and Dr May Ssengendo.