A recent survey by different organizations has revealed that it will take between 140 to 300 years to achieve gender equality in the world, while the UN Women-commissioned report recently revealed 200 years.
This is based on the current level of efforts towards gender parity as well as the challenges that are limiting the progress, hence the need to boost the effort.
This has advised the partnership between UN Women (United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women) and Stanbic Ban Uganda worth 15 million dollars (About 56.4 billion shillings) to help lift Ugandan women to economic empowerment.
Dr. Paulina Chiwangu, UN Women's Country Representative in Uganda, says when women lag behind, it is not only the women who suffer, but the effect is on the whole population or the economy.
She says, for example, that the attainment of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals heavily depends on the success of SDG 5 about Gender Equality.
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The three-year partnership will, among others, build the capacity of female entrepreneurs in financial and business management, value chain marketing, access to cross-border markets, and improving their access to affordable credit.
UN Women, a UN agency working for gender equality and the empowerment of women has a worldwide mandate of ensuring that every woman and girl lives up to her full potential.
Dr. Chiwangu said it is important to promote the active participation of individuals and groups outside the public sector, such as civil society and the private sector, in the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women.
The agency has been running programs in Uganda, especially in the north through women's groups.
This partnership will help them expand their operations to reach more than 100,000 women, including women refugees, according to her.
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Stanbic Bank through its specialized women's banking unit, Stanbic for Her, will implement the partnership that seeks to advance women-led enterprises in Uganda, with the aim of ultimately contributing to achieving the desired global gender parity in business.
The partnership aims to contribute to efforts to remove critical barriers such as difficulty in accessing affordable credit by providing critical skills and confidence to engage with financial institutions.
Muchae Gladys, the Stanbic Bank Uganda Country Head for Credit said that ‘Stanbic for Her' was motivated by the vision to offer financial and non-financial services to unlock the full potential of women-led enterprises.
She hopes that UN Women will explore several possibilities under financial inclusion and access to banking services, to make the funds for women's groups, through their various Village Savings and Loans Association, safe, and help women in overcoming the post-COVID-19 effects.
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Anne Juuko, Stanbic Chief Executive Officer, said the low access to finance still remains a major hindrance to the growth of women-led enterprises, especially the hardship in meeting the collateral requirements at commercial banks.
This means that most women entrepreneurs usually have to start from scratch to build their businesses, hence the decision to collaborate in building their capacity to run and grow their small businesses.
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Stanbic for Her, which was started in the midst of the pandemic has reached at least 10,000 women and lent out 56 billion shillings to date.
However, the general problem is, that many people start businesses and most fail before five years. Juuko says that one of the ways to overcome this is to first train the borrowers on business and financial literacy before giving them the money.