Poverty can be defined not only as the lack of incomes but also the lack of means to satisfy basic social needs as well as feeling powerless to break out of the cycle of poverty, insecurity of a person and property. Poverty has faces and is caused by factors including among others inadequacies in access to natural resources, human factors, financial assets, social capital and physical infrastructure
Uganda remains one of the poorest countries of the world. Poverty level was recorded at 31.1% in 2006according to the UNDP 2006, Uganda Human Development Report ranking. In terms of numbers, over 7 million people live in chronic poverty according to a research on chronic poverty. Poverty is also mainly a rural phenomenon with 48% of the rural population living below the absolute poverty line compared to 16% of the urban dwellers.
It is important to note that the greatest percentage of the rural population is composed of women. Women are said to be the poorest of the poor. This highlights the significance of addressing gender dimensions of poverty and the fact that poverty has increasingly become feminised. However, poverty cannot be universalised and has different dimensions. In Uganda the principle dimensions of poverty include gender, livelihood, location and seasonality.
Gender disparities exist in education, mortality rates, health and other social and economic indicators and are greatest within poorer income groups. Gender inequalities impose large costs on the well-being and health of the poor, diminishing productivity and the potential to reduce poverty and ensure economic growth. In most societies women have more limited opportunities to improve economic conditions and access services than men do. Usually women and girls bear the brunt of gender inequalities
In regard to division of labour, women provide 70% of agricultural labour force and are responsible for 80% of food production and all production processes and like else where in the world, women in Uganda have limited access to land and other resources, little control of the existing resources or of the income realised from the sale of these products including surplus from sale of food crops where labour input is highest. Women’s dependence reduces their contribution to the reduction of household poverty.
Women also lag behind in terms of education levels and participation in community development activities due to lack of mobilisation, time and failure to see the benefits of participation. Approaches to poverty therefore need to take into account the different needs of women and men and involve women as subjects in economic initiatives and in planning and implementation of development initiatives for drastic changes to be realised in poverty eradication.