Uganda has a strong legislative and policy framework that supports gender equality and women’s empowerment, including legislation on free access to primary and secondary education for boys and girls.
When it became clear that the policy framework for gender equality had not been satisfactorily implemented in the country, a strategic and innovative incentive mechanism was developed through the Ministry of Local Government – which has direct outreach to the population. The Local Government Development Programme (LGDP) was mobilised for this purpose, funded through direct budget support from the World Bank, Austria, Denmark, Belgium and the Netherlands. In order to access grants from the LDGP, local governments needed to meet basic criteria on gender equality.
Annual performance of local governments was assessed against 10 indicators, then evaluated and scored. Two of the indicators related to gender equality: to have a plan for gender mainstreaming, and to have a specific budget tied to this plan. This assessment provided the basis for funding decisions and disbursement of grants. Local governments that scored high in terms of gender equality qualified for an increase of grants of up to 20%, while the allocation of those that failed to meet agreed criteria, including on gender equality, would be reduced by 20%. To support this system, training and awareness-raising on gender equality were made available in some districts.
This initiative to incentivise performance on gender equality helped make women’s voices heard in national and sub-national planning processes. However, there was a tendency to focus on practical needs at local level, such as women’s access to water and health services, rather than on economic empowerment or on transforming power relations between women and men. Implementation and enforcement of the initiative also proved challenging at times.
As Uganda begins a new era of development planning through the formulation of the National Development Plan (2010-2015), there is an opportunity to build on the best practices of gender responsive planning at local government level and thereby achieve greater effectiveness in service delivery at the national level.
This case study was featured in Issues Brief 5 on Managing for Development Results (MfDR), published by the OECD DAC Network on Gender Equality in 2009.