Women MPs ask govt to protect girls working abroad

Some Ugandans wait to be cleared at Entebbe International Airport before they take a flight from Uganda to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for work. A 2022 report by the Africa Institute for Strategy and Policy (AISP)—an Africa safe migration index—indicates that more than 195,000 Ugandan migrant workers are currently in Saudi Arabia. PHOTO | FILE

Women leaders have raised alarm over the continued abuse of girls working abroad and asked the government to regulate labour companies.

While meeting women MPs on the Parliamentary Committee of Gender, officials from the Equal Opportunity Commission (EOC) said they sought to exchange ideas on how to regulate exportation of labour, especially for girls.

“We want to make the working conditions of Ugandans abroad better because it may not be very easy to stop them from going abroad but we want  favourable working condition so that they can earn an income and prosper,” Ms Safiya Nalule,  the EOC chairperson, she said yesterday.

Ms Nalule called for a stakeholders meeting with the Gender ministry and exportation companies to create guidelines to ensure favourable working conditions. 

“We need to start with strengthening the monitoring and supervision of activities of recruitment agencies through regular and on spot inspections,” she said.

Ms Nalule added that the ministry should be fully resourced to implement  laws governing the recruitment of migrant workers.

“The regulations state that it is the policy of the administration to uphold the dignity and fundamental human rights of Ugandan migrant workers and promote employment and equality for all,” she said.

Ms Nalule added that labour recruitment agencies should be required to submit measures that ensure the protection of rights of Ugandans.

The chairperson of the Parliamentary Committee on Gender, Ms  Flavia Kabahenda Rwabuhoro, said they have embarked on creating strict regulations to protect Ugandans working abroad. 

“We have a lot of questions on several cases we have been receiving. That’s why we have started engaging stakeholders to  help us with information  on how best we can sanitise the industry,” said

Mr Martin Wandera, the director of Labour, Employment and Occupational Safety and Health, said one of the objectives of the Labour externalisation Regulation, 2005, is to secure the best possible terms and conditions of employment for Ugandans who want to work abroad .

“We are making a clear follow up and if there is any errant company which fails to implement the existing regulations,  it   must be answerable to the complaints,” he said. 

The Parliamentary Committee on Gender has been receiving complaints on mistreatment of Ugandans abroad but the one of Ms Annet Nakagulire has forced the lawmakers to start investigations.

Her family petitioned the committee  after she was confined at the Ugandan embassy in Saudi Arabia since June 26 following the expiry of her ticket. 

Nakagulire was reportedly engaged in a scuffle with her employees. Authorities briefly detained her and arranged her deportation but she ended up at the embassy.

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