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Unpaid care work keeping Ugandan women poor

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By EVELYN LIRRI
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Unpaid care and domestic workloads that are often unevenly distributed is keeping Ugandan women in perpetual poverty across several generations, a new report notes.

On average, women are spending up to eight hours daily on domestic and unpaid care work compared with just four hours that men spend, the findings of the joint report, published by Oxfam-Uganda and Uganda Women’s Network (Uwonet) show.

Unpaid care work includes domestic tasks as well as care for people at home or in the community.

While domestic, national and international laws and policies acknowledge the existence of unpaid care and domestic work, this has not translated into the effective recognition, reduction and redistribution of this kind of work.

Unpaid care work is recognised as a women’s rights, economic and equality issue under the United Nation’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

The Uwonet report, dubbed Gender Roles and the Care Economy in Ugandan Households: The case of Kaabong, Kabale and Kampala districts, shows that early socialisation and social norms have contributed to the uneven distribution of unpaid care and domestic work. This, it notes, has seen the biggest burden fall on women and girls.

According to the report, from childhood, girls spend about 4.8 hours a day on unpaid care and domestic work while boys spend 3.8 hours.

The care workload decreases for men as they get older, but increases for girls, leaving them with less time for leisure and school work.

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As a result, women on average spend 32 hours weekly on unpaid care work and 21 hours weekly on unpaid production for home consumption, while men spend 20 and 10 hours respectively.
This leaves women with little opportunity to earn money from their labour, which then keeps them in poverty.

For example, 58.5 per cent of men interviewed from Kaabong district in northeastern Uganda said they never, as children, saw their father or any man prepare food. In Kabale, the percentage was 52.1 while in the capital city Kampala, it was 31.8 per cent.

“Overall, only 55.8 per cent of men in rural areas and 41.4 per cent in urban areas ever saw a man in the house they grew up in prepare food,” the report notes.

Uwonet executive director Rita Aciro said the lack of attention to the distribution of the care work burden has negative implications for the economy and widens the economic gender gap.

Ibrahim Kasirye, a development economist at the Economic Policy Research Institute said thateconomically, women in Uganda earn less than their male counterparts, with about 50 per cent employed in the lowest paying sectors of domestic work, agriculture and quarrying.

“This is not only unfair to the individual women, but also reflects badly on Uganda as a country that does not recognise the contribution these women make to the economy,” said Dr Kasirye.

The report recommends investments in health, education and agriculture in order to reduce these gaps. It also urges the government to invest in technologies that can help reduce women’s workload such as access to clean water.

Florence Nakiwala, the State Minister for Youth Affairs, said the government is investing in the water and energy sectors to help reduce the amount of time women spend on fetching water and cooking.

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19-year-old boy charged with defiling girl three years younger

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[Courtesy]

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A 19-year-old teenager is in trouble with authorities for allegedly defiling a 16-year-old girl.
Tyson Ongaki has been charged before a Kisumu Chief Magistrate’s court and accused of intentionally defiling the minor on various dates. The crime was allegedly committed in Bomet.
The teenager who appeared before Chief Magistrate Peter Gesora however denied the offence and has been released on a Sh100,000 bond.
The court heard that after committing the offense on diverse dates between March 26, 2021 and May 14, 2021, the teenager moved to Kisumu.
He has also been charged with committing an indecent act with a minor.
An investigating officer handling the matter told the court that the suspect was arrested in Kisumu.
The magistrate directed that the matter be heard on June 15, 2021.

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KRA must ease tax filing to boost revenues

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Nikhil Hira Independent tax consultant and Director Bowmans Coulson Harney (law firm). [Courtesy]

Anyone who has been following Kenya’s budgets over the last few years will recall headlines each year saying that the country has set its largest-ever budget. 
The upcoming 2021/22 fiscal year is no exception, with Treasury Cabinet Secretary Ukur Yatani announcing a budget of Sh3.6 trillion – yes, the biggest ever! A little over Sh2 trillion will come from government revenues, with approximately Sh1.8 trillion of this from tax revenues. 
The balance will be borrowed – another common feature of the last few years. 
This year’s budget comes amidst an economic crisis brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, with the inherent assumption that the pandemic will come to an end before the start of the next financial year. 
Given surges in infections that are being seen globally, and indeed in Kenya, this assumption may well be the deal-breaker. 
The Ministry of Health has already said that Kenya may see another wave of infections in July, fuelled by the Indian variant. This could result in more lockdowns with the associated impact on the economy and indeed revenue collections. The lack of vaccines is an issue that the government must address as a matter of great urgency if the country is to get through the pandemic without further economic woes. 
While deficits in government budgets are not uncommon, Kenya seems to be annually widening the gap between expenditure and revenues. 
If one applies this model to their household budget, the upshot will almost certainly be bankruptcy. 

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What is actually required is curtailing recurring government expenditures, which is something that the government has acknowledged in the past with proposed austerity measures. 
The reality is that Kenya has not succeeded in doing this, and the pressure on revenue collection is exacerbated. 
When you add to the high level of wastage and corruption we are witnessing, the deficit will almost certainly continue to widen. 
The responsibility for tax collection and enforcement lies with the Kenya Revenue Authority better (KRA). 
There is no doubt that the authority has improved significantly in this task since it was set up in 1995. 
The taxman estimates that 4.4 million tax returns were filed by June 30 last year, up from 3.6 million in the previous year.  While this is a significant improvement, when compared to the country’s population, this number of returns seems unusually low. 
The increase in the number of tax returns, is to a large extent, due to the online reporting system, iTax, and a major push by KRA through taxpayer education.
There is no doubt that the online system has made filing tax returns significantly easier and gone are the large queues of people witnessed at Times Tower on deadline day. 
That said, there is still much to be done to make filing returns a seamless and painless exercise. 
System downtime during filing periods is something that all of us will have experienced, although, in typical Kenyan fashion, we inevitably wait until the last day to file our returns as we do with most things! 
The spreadsheet that one uses to file a return is by no means the simplest to use.  One key issue seems to be that taxpayers are not alerted to changes in the model until they try to upload a return. 
The spreadsheet does not allow one to make it more relevant to their sources of income – in essence, it is too rigid and inflexible. KRA should be able to rectify this without too much effort.
Last year was unusual in that different rates of tax were applicable in the first quarter as compared to the rest of the year.  This followed the Covid-19 relief measures that were introduced in April 2020. 
There was much debate about whether the changes were meant to apply for the whole year or whether some form of apportionment was needed. 
In the end, the decision was made for apportionment. One can argue about what the correct treatment should be, but the issue was how long it took for the decision to be made and, indeed, to amend the iTax system. 
The age-old notion has always been that the more complex and difficult it is to file a tax return, the more likely it will be that taxpayers simply won’t file their returns. While the issue with the system has been resolved, there is an inherent administrative issue here that must be addressed. 
KRA has to be significantly more proactive in dealing with changes in rates and law to ensure the least inconvenience to taxpayers. 
The writer, Nikhil Hira, is the Director of Bowmans Kenya.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s and not necessarily those of Bowmans Kenya  

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BBI ruling: Nakuru MCAs criticise judges

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The leadership of Nakuru County Assembly has faulted the five-judge bench for declaring Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) Bill illegal. Speaking at the assembly Monday, the ward reps said the verdict was contrary to the wishes of the residents.

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