Parliament Approves Bills for Rationalization of Gender and Special Interest Groups

Parliament approved five significant bills, transferring gender and special interest entities to the National Secretariat for Special Interest Groups within the Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development.

During a plenary session convened on Friday, 19 April 2024, under the leadership of Speaker Anita Among, the National Youth Council, National Women’s Council, National Council for Older Persons, National Council for Persons with Disabilities, and National Children’s Authority were all relocated to the Ministry of Gender as part of a restructuring initiative.

The National Youth Council (Amendment) 2024 bill, endorsed by Parliament, facilitates the integration of the National Youth Council’s secretariat functions into the Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development.

According to the report from the Committee on Gender, Labour, and Social Development, there’s concern that the bill doesn’t ensure the redeployment of highly experienced technical officers within the National Secretariat, potentially leading to the loss of skilled personnel.

Hon. David Kabanda (NRM, Kasambya County) urged the Gender Minister to reassure the nation and youth leaders that special interest groups would continue to receive independent funding or be adequately supported under a unified secretariat.

Hon. Jane Avur (NRM, Pakwach District Woman Representative) raised questions about how the secretariat would address the needs of vulnerable youths, especially those in fishing communities.

Speaker Among assured that youth interests are represented in Parliament through youth MPs, ensuring coverage of their constituencies. She also emphasized that the government would allocate funds to the Ministry of Gender, ensuring support for youths, persons with disabilities, women, older persons, and children.

Minister Betty Amongi reiterated that the councils remain unaffected, with their budgets approved within their respective councils and managed by department heads under the executive secretary.

Additionally, Parliament merged the National Children’s Authority’s functions into the Ministry responsible for children affairs and adopted the proposal to integrate the National Women’s Council’s secretariat functions into the Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development.

The Persons with Disabilities (Amendment) Bill 2024 and the National Council for Older Persons (Amendment) Bill 2024 were also passed, consolidating their management under the national secretariat of Special Interest Groups within the Ministry of Gender.