This particular chapter looks at the Background to the study, the problem statement, the purpose of the study, the study objectives and research questions. It also elaborates the significance of the study, and the scope of the study 1.1 Background of the study
The 1995 Beijing Declaration, the 2000 Millennium Declaration and the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) Gender and Development Plan of Action (2002 - 07) have all endorsed comprehensive plans of action to improve the conditions, rights of women and their communities, combat poverty, hunger and ensure the inclusion of women in all efforts at ensuring sustainable development, (Chen et al., 2005). World Bank Group (1999) noted that in the last decade, Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) have gained increased attention among scholars and practitioners of development. They have become increasingly important agents of the development process in the countries of the South, in all of their main areas of work such as humanitarian relief, long-term development, policy formation and political advocacy (Attack 1999). On the other hand, there is a current view that NGOs constitute a viable alternative to government as channels of development assistance, particularly in developing countries. Some of the NGOs’ functions and advantages, according to Streeten (1997) are (1) they are good at reaching and mobilizing the poor and remote communities; (2) they have helped to empower poor people to gain control of their lives, and they work with and strengthen local institutions; (3) they carry out projects at lower costs and more efficiently than the government agencies and (4) they have promoted sustainable development. According to Friedman (1992), promoting empowerment is of particular interest to some NGOs working with poor women. Although four decades of development (1950-90) yielded important benefits to women, significant gender gaps still remain. Improvements in women's well-being are reflected in the behaviour of four key indicators between 1970 and 1990, and this includes; (1) life expectancy among women increased significantly in all regions; (2) girls' enrolment in primary school increased in most regions; (3) total fertility rates declined; and (4) women's access to contraception increased. On the other hand, worldwide, twice as many women as men are still illiterate. Economic Commission for Africa, (2005), states that the promotion of women’s empowerment in Africa in areas such as education, politics and economics has been slow and much remains to be done. The African Development Forum (ADF) (2008) stated that empowering women to participate in the information sector would bring about benefits such as increased creativity, expertise and competitiveness in the technology sector and thus assist the information economy thereby leading to economic growth. The governments in African countries cannot do this enormous task alone, this is the reason Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) in Africa have stood up to the responsibility of empowering women in different areas. In fact the Economic Commission for Africa (2005) commended the efforts of the NGOs in the development and adoption of the Protocol to the African Charter of Human and Peoples Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa.
Women’s economic subordination in Uganda as a whole and in semi-rural areas in particular is believed to have begun with the coming of colonial rule through the introduction of cash crops, hut tax and formal education. The colonial rulers wanted cash crops to be grown with the cheap labour of male natives. They imposed a hut tax, payable in cash, on every adult male. This forced men to seek employment in the white plantations whereas the women were left behind to take care of the homes. Although men were forced to go and work in white plantations, this enabled them to obtain cash, which gave them economic power over their wives, (Rutabajuka, 1994)....
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