MPs champion advocacy for Gender-Responsive Public Procurement

Members of Parliament have taken to the floor to call government’s attention to gender-
responsive public procurement in Uganda. Hon. Shartsi Musherure, MP for Mawogola North in
Sembabule championed the advocacy and passionately asked the Minister of Finance to share
with Parliament why the regulations for reservation for special groups in public procurement are
not in use. This was highlighted as a matter of national importance on the floor of Parliament on
July 11, 2023.

This advocacy followed an engagement with the 14MPs hosted by Africa Freedom of
Information Centre (AFIC) on July 10th, 2023 at Golf Course Hotel, in Kampala. AFIC
presented to MPs its recent research findings, which found that just 1% of Women-Led
Businesses participate in Public Procurement yet government was spending over 60% of it
budget in public procurement.

The findings were even more startling for MPs because they learnt that the women lacked capital to invest into the public procurement business yet a number of programmes were in place to support women participation in the money economy including UWEP. it was contended that with the new women programme of GRoW within the Ministry of Gender, women should be given opportunity to attain some funding for their participation in public procurement.

Hon Rita Atukwasa who chaired the engagement put it to the colleagues that the issue of women
in public procurement was a serious matter and virgin in that it is not mentioned anywhere in the
corridors of Parliament. She urged her colleagues to unite and be champions in advocacy for the
matter both in parliament and outside. MPs in response offered to take the matter further to and
address the emerging issues to their Finance committee chairperson and members while others
offered to engage the Gender Committee on the same matter. They called for more information
to be shared amongst the team, Parliament and women in business as a whole.

On his part, the Executive Director of AFIC welcomed the idea that MPs would take on most of
the issues raised in the report and challenged them to take interest in the regulations and guidelines. These would be crucial to increase women participation in public procurement. He also tasked them to interest themselves in issues of delayed payments, disaggregated data, corruption and sexualization of contracts.

The Finance Committee members present in the meeting expressed interest in the report conclusions and pledged to not just pass legislation but also follow up with monitoring and oversee the committees that fall under them. MPs also agreed to work with the Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development on the GROW program.

As a result of the engagement, an action paper was agreed upon and a group of champions was immediately formed between AFIC and the MPs to coordinate and share knowledge on the advocacy of women-led enterprises in public procurement. The group would provide a platform for all parties to share opportunities that are helpful and beneficial to all. This is the second group of this nature involving the MPs as champions of women in public procurement after the first one formed in Tanzania. Champion MPs in Tanzania are 21 and took the discussion to the parliamentary floor asking the minster to produce a report on the performance of the reservation quota provided in their legal framework and how women had benefited.