Parliament Passes Bills for Rationalisation of Gender and Special Interest Groups

Parliament passed five key bills, moving gender and special interest entities to the National Secretariat for Special Interest Groups under the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development.

Parliament Passes Bills for Rationalisation of Gender and Special Interest Groups
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Parliament passed five key bills, moving gender and special interest entities to the National Secretariat for Special Interest Groups under the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development.

In a plenary session held on Friday, 19 April, 2024 chaired by Speaker Anita Among, the National Youth Council, National Women's Council, the National Council for Older Persons, National Council for Persons with Disabilities, and National Children's Authority were all moved to the Ministry of Gender in a rationalisation move.

Parliament passed the National Youth Council (Amendment) 2024, enabling the mainstreaming of the functions of the secretariat of the National Youth Council into the Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development.

According to the report of the Committee on Gender, Labour, and Social Development, the country may lose highly experienced technical officers because the bill does not guarantee their redeployment in the National Secretariat.

"Government should give priority to technical experts and the highly skilled while staffing the National Secretariat so that the Government does not lose on the return on investments, " the report read in part.

Hon. David Kabanda (NRM, Kasambya County) tasked the Minister for Gender to give assurance to the country and to the youth leaders that the special interest groups will still be funded independently or they were going to be under one secretariat.

Hon. Jane Avur (NRM, Pakwach District Woman Representative) questioned how the secretariat will pay special attention to vulnerable youths including the fishing communities.

Speaker Among stated that youths are represented in Parliament through the youth MPs who will ensure that their constituencies are covered.

Among also stated that the government will appropriate money to the Ministry of Gender, and money will go to the youths, persons with disabilities, women, older persons, and children, adding that if it means ring-fencing, Parliament will do that.

The Minister for Gender, Labour, and Social Development, Hon. Betty Amongi reaffirmed that the councils have not been affected.

"Under the executive secretary are the departments headed by a programme manager in charge of youth, women, persons with disabilities, older persons, and children. The act permits each of these councils to approve their budgets, so they will approve their budget in their councils and give it to their programme manager, and they will still have a subvention," she stated.

Parliament also rationalised the National Children's Authority and mainstreamed its functions into the ministry responsible for children affairs, which is the Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development.

This was through the approval of the Children (Amendment) Bill 2024, which sought to dissolve the National Children's Authority.

Although the report of the Committee on Gender called for an independent body to work for children affairs, the House resolved to take the entity to the Ministry of Gender.

"The committee strongly argues that children being of tender age and highly vulnerable to exploitation, their issues should be given urgent and special attention," the report read in part.

Parliament also adopted the proposal to mainstream the functions of the secretariat of the National Women's Council into the Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development by passing the National Women's Council (Amendment) Bill 2024.

The committee, however, expressed reservations about this due to the fact that women, being a marginalised group in society, are highly vulnerable to mistreatment and exploitation.

Parliament also passed the Persons with Disabilities (Amendment) Bill 2024 sending it under one secretariat of the Special Interest Groups. Additionally, Parliament also passed the National Council for Older Persons (Amendment) Bill 2024, sending its management to the national secretariat of the Special Interest Groups under the Ministry of Gender.

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