A new film called Prickly Roses has today premiered and is now available in the cinema near you.
Today, 13th February, 2020, the film which has Sarafina Muhawenimana, Hellen Lukoma and Eleanor Nabwiso premiered today at Century Cinemax, Acacia Mall.
What you need to know about ‘Prickly Roses’
The practice of giving flowers is now part of our culture. We receive flowers on Valentine’s Day, when we are celebrating a promotion, or when we are in a hospital bed to cheer us up. The blues, reds, whites and pinks in a bouquet of flowers not only communicates love, joy and affection but also screams appreciation, sympathy and sometimes apologies. It is the most elegant manner of communicating feelings. However, the striking beauty of flowers and the powerful emotions they evoke very rarely set us on a path of thinking about what effort is put into their growing, nurturing and packaging. Or who does all the work.
The floriculture sector in Ugandan employs up to 60-75% women who do the work of weeding, harvesting, packing and labelling flowers. Most of the flowers are grown for export marking the sector as a strong foreign exchange earner and creator of jobs. Monthly salaries for permanent workers range between UGX 90000 (25 USD) to UGX 300,000 (82 USD) for an average 50 hour work week. This remuneration remains insufficient to cater to the workers’ basic needs leaving them quite vulnerable. Although the industry has made significant progress in ensuring security and safety in the workplace, a number of employers have been found to be in violation with some workers having little or no protective gear. The issue of sexual harassment also remains pervasive as especially at the point of entry into employment.
In spite of their significant contribution to the economy and the obstacles they face, the stories and experiences of the women holding up this industry remain largely unknown.
Akina Mama wa Afrika (AMwA) in partnership with Nabwiso Films under the auspices of the Women@Work Campaign supported by Hivos East Africa will premiere a film titled “Prickly Roses” which dramatizes the lives of women working on flower farms in Uganda. The premiere will take place on the 13th February 2020 in Kampala- Uganda. The film looks to raise public awareness about the working conditions of women working on flower farms with the larger goal of igniting discourse and actions around improving these conditions. The film is also intended to be an advocacy tool in catalyzing the conclusion of the ongoing review of legal and policy frameworks such as the Employment Act, 2016; the Sexual Offences Bill, 2015; and the Minimum Wage Bill 2015 which will serve to strengthen protections that workers are entitled to. Lastly, the film will serve as a clarion call for the ratification of the ILO Convention 190 on Violence and Harassment in the world of work.
Women undertaking unskilled, low paid and flexible jobs barely ever benefit, no matter how well the economy is doing. Low wages and sexual harassment are an insistent problem for these women, especially in horticulture. According to Oxfam’s inequality report “Time to Care”, for many women, the gender pay gap is bigger than the contents of a pay pocket. It is hours of unpaid labor that are taken as a given before they have addressed income and livelihood. The economic system that values the wealth of the privileged few mostly men, more than the billions of hours of the most essential work, the unpaid and underpaid care work done primarily by women and girls around the world. Women continue to support the market economy with cheap labor working amidst deplorable work conditions.
Uganda presently has no minimum wage. A gap the 2015 Minimum Wage Bill aims to fill by setting up a minimum wage determination mechanism across different sectors of the economy, this is considered a solid ground upon which salary rise will be advocated for the underpaid women. The President however declined to assent to the Bill stating that the current law is sufficient for the sector. If passed, the law will help minimize injustice and exploitation of workers for it provides for an employee employer led minimum wage determination and application.
Sexual harassment at work can have very serious consequences both for the harassed individuals as well as for other working women who experience it. The current law on sexual harassment however remains incognizant of the abuse and exploitation of workers in the informal economy that employs majority of the women working on flower farms since most are employed as casual laborers. With the recently adopted ILO convention, this is bound to change. The framework is forward looking and groundbreaking in its provisions as it makes clear what obligations governments and employers have to keep employees safe from violence and harassment, while also expanding the definition of violence and harassment to be as comprehensive as possible, and also widening the scope of what the world of work constitutes.
To use the creative arts to influence change in policy and practice around working conditions of women towards the realization of decent work, especially in low cadre jobs.
To raise public awareness about the lived realities of women working on flower farms in Uganda and galvanize them to speak out and support.
To situate the gendered impacts poor working conditions on women.
To catalyze advocacy for the ratification, adoption and implementation of the ILO C190, as well as review and passage of other legal and policy instruments that
ensure decent work for women.
An informed and galvanized public speaking out and taking action for the improvement of working conditions of women working on flower farms and in low cadre jobs.
Actionable commitments from the government
About the Women@Work Campaign
The Women@Work Campaign is an initiative by Hivos that seeks to propel decent working conditions for women who earn their living in global production chains most notably flowers, fruits and vegetables grown for export. Since 2012, Women@Work has established itself as East Africa’s largest structured dialogue and advocacy platform on women’s labor rights. With ever-growing credibility, it works with business, governments and civil society actors to enforce change for women employees regarding decent wages, participation in decision making, leadership at management level and in trade unions, as well as safety and security in the workplace without sexual harassment.
AMwA contributes to the Women@Work Campaign through the women’s leadership project where we seek to address both structural and practical needs that hinder women’s ascension to positions of leadership by raising the consciousness of women workers, managers, partners and other stakeholders on gender issues. The project is implemented in partnership with Uganda Workers’ Education Association (UWEA) in Uganda and The African Women’s Development.