PIC:The State of World Population 2017 report, found that no country was left untouched by sexism and discrimination. (Credit: Kennedy Oryema)
KAMPALA - Last year, the United Nations Population Fund, found that women around the world are earning 23% less than men in work places.
The State of World Population 2017 report, found that no country was left untouched by sexism and discrimination when it came to women in the workplace.
It revealed that women across the world in paid labour force find themselves earning a quarter less than men for the same different types of work.
The executive director Private Sector Foundation Uganda (PSFU), Gideon Badagawa stated that while the global pay disparity stands at 23%, in Africa it is at 30%.
In Uganda, the gender pay disparity is at 41% which is double that of the world and unacceptably high.
Changing the status quo
In a bid to champion gender equality at work, 27 more Ugandan companies have signed up for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); Gender Equality Seal Certification (GES).
This brings the number of Ugandan companies that have committed to ensuring both women and men are given equal opportunities at work, for as long as they have the same level of qualification to 40.
Badagawa at the commitment signing ceremony on Thursday in Kampala, said the 13 pioneer companies who signed up for GES in October 2016, registered a significant increase in productivity, profitability and partnerships with the markets they engage with.
The companies from manufacturing, ICT and service sectors included among other Nile Breweries, Standard Chartered Bank, and Delight Uganda Ltd.
The newly signed up companies on the other hand include the Association of Uganda tour operators and Crown Beverages.
Under the GES program, the companies have committed to place more women in decision making positions and eliminate gender-based pay gaps.
They have also signed up to recruit more women into various positions, to reduce inequalities created by sex-based discrimination.
Why the gender equality seal program is desirable
According to the 2016 Africa human development report released following a study conducted by TICAD and the Japanese government, Africa loses $ 95 billion of its GDP per year as a result of gender inequality.
Whereas in Uganda Sh67 million is lost per year also as a result of gender inequality but within the agriculture sector alone.
As a result of the huge loss indicated, the Private Sector Foundation of Uganda (PSFU) as of August 19, 2016 pledged to adopt the gender equality seal through advocacy but this pledge had to go to actual companies.
Badagawa says the number of companies has as of 2018 gone up as different studies, have indicated that companies that hire more women and treat them equally like the men at work place, have registered more productivity.
This is in addition to profitability and partnerships. The GES is also aimed at attaining the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) number five that is to empower women and attain gender equality at work.
Getting the gender equality seal
A company can either get a bronze, silver or gold seal as a mark of excellence that can be attached to its products, according to Badagawa.
But just like any quality mark, the gender seal is valid for a period of two years after which the company has to get a new one following the standards set out.
The United Nations (UN) Resident Coordinator in Uganda Rosa Malango says 2015 saw gender equality being recognized and affirmed as precondition for the realization of inclusive sustainable development in Uganda.
For UNDP the pursuit of gender equality at the workplace sets in motion employee performance schemes that reduce gender-gaps.
It says the process also triggers innovations for gender-appropriate product design and customer services; and enables networking with global companies that support the sustainable development goals.
And for the participating company to be awarded a gender seal to be used as a quality mark, UNDP bases on indicators (standards) it set out that ensure gender equality is met.
Lessons from South America
Designed and developed in 2009 by the UNDP, GES certification was pioneered in Costa Rica, Uruguay, Brazil plus Chile and is now expanding globally.
Since then, over 400 companies across eleven countries of Latin America have been certified.
Uganda in 2016 became the first country in Africa to have the private sector adopt the gender equality seal certification programme.
In Uganda it complements the gender and equity certificate that is used by government to assess the gender responsiveness of sector plans and budgets as provided for by the public finance management act 2014.
So any ministry that presented their budget to the equal opportunities commission of parliament had to ensure its gender responsive.
They in turn got the gender and equity certificate from the ministry of finance to institutionalize gender mainstreaming.
This includes a better work environment, greater productivity, efficiency, improved relationships among staff, employee commitment, and a reduction in absenteeism plus attraction of diversity of talent.
Lessons picked by Uganda
According to UNDP Uganda expressed interest in GES in 2014 and got its process and programs assessed both internally and externally.
It was among 18 countries considered in Africa for the second round of the gender seal equality programme (2015/16).
The first round was in 2012/2013 and in Africa Egypt and a few other African countries were considered.
All the programs were in the public sector but for UNDP that was not sufficient, hence engagement now of the private sector.
Worrying for Uganda was that out of 700 members of the private sector federation only 40 are women a figure they find so bad.
But over two years now UNDP is working with the private sector federation and are implementing the gender equality seal, working with companies in process of implementing the gender seal.
For UNDP, if GES certification succeeds, so will SDG number 5 and 11 other SGDs that have gender elements interconnected.
SDG number five aims at achieving gender equality and empowering all women and girls.
And the UN system views the certification scheme as one of the vehicles that will enable countries to deliver on the commitment.
Badagawa, says their members must not only sign up for the seal but also ensure that it's well-executed.
He says the seal is not only for big companies but also for the small and medium size companies as well as those in the informal sector.
Malango, who is also the UN resident coordinator says the gender equality seal now is one of the friendly business pathways for achieving the new global agenda 2030 and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).