On the 30th of October 2014, ACFODE held a Breakfast Meeting at Sheraton Hotel to present an issue paper on Equal Opportunities for Women: a case of Women’s Participation in Politics and Public Administration.
The meeting was attended by policy makers, women public administrators, CSO representatives, the Media, Women Parliamentarians, representatives from the academia and other stakeholders who actively engaged in all the deliberations. While giving her opening remarks, Ms. Regina Bafaki, ACFODE’s Executive Director observed that the event seemed to have come at the right time, since the Gender Gap Index Report 2014 had been recently attested, with Uganda taking a steep fall from rank position 46 in the previous year, to 88 out of 142 countries in 2014.
“Personally, I feel deflated by this. Hence, I call upon all of you to make recommendations that will see us coming out of this deep hole,” she resonated.
After Bafaki’s remarks, Ms. Perry Aritua – an ACFODE Member and Executive Director of Women Democracy Network (WDN) made a presentation on the issue paper. According to the findings highlighted in the paper, 32% and 28% of Ministerial and State Ministerial positions are held by Ugandan women respectively. While 34.4% of the Members of Parliament are females, the proportions are much lower among Local Council V and III Chairpersons (2.6% and 1.6% respectively). According to the Payroll Monitoring Unit in the Ministry of Public Service, 22% of positions at senior management level and 16% at middle management level are occupied by women who make 33% of all public servants. For instance, only 8% of Chief Administrative Officers (CAOs) across the country are females.
This is caused by a number of challenges such as persistent stereotypes that perceive leadership a reserve for men; and bribery and commercialization of elections and politics. Women are also challenged by their other gender roles, which arise from their biological functions. These among others have deterred women’s active participation in politics and public administration.
Ms. Perry Aritua presenting the Issue Paper
During a plenary session at the Breakfast meeting, these very issues were reechoed.
It was noted by the women parliamentarians who were present that the monetization and commercialization of politics has hindered many women leaders to engage fully and contribute substantially in the different sectors. And since most women struggle financially, this makes it hard for them to compete favorably. Hence, a request was made to key stakeholders such as government, political parties, and development partners to put in place a special fund meant to support aspiring women leaders financially.
Other issues that came up during the plenary include:
- Passing of the Local Council Elections Bill to enable the appointment of local councils during the upcoming elections was mentioned. In addition, participants demanded for a quota system that fronts a 50% women representation during these elections.
- The need to actively engage, and involve men in key positions as champions of gender equality was stressed. “Women cannot do this on their own. They need to bring influential men on board,” emphasized one of the participants.
- Scale up execution of the National Women’s Fund – it was suggested that government, and particularly the Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development needs to expedite the process of putting up a functional women’s fund that will enable Ugandan women to have easy access to finances.
- Civil and political education – a call was made for the inclusion of a subject matter on civic and political education in primary and secondary schools respectively. “An empowered citizenry is aware of their rights and responsibilities and are thus able to proactively engage with their leaders on issues that affect them and their communities. We need for our children, the leaders of tomorrow to be empowered in such a way.”
- Donor support for women’s rights and empowerment – participants insisted that the donor community needs to increase funding for women issues of concern. “The funds allocated to promoting women’s rights and empowerment are meager if compared to other sectors. The donor community needs to revisit this,” noted Dr. Tabitha Mulyampiti.
Hon. Victoria Ssekitoleko sharing her views during the plenary session
By and large the event was a great success as it provided a podium to build synergies among the women leaders. There was also a renewed commitment and strengthened collaboration amongst the different participants and the sectors they represented to push forward the women’s agenda. The women were also able to share their personal experiences as a way of challenging and inspiring each other; by discussing the pertinent issues that impede their effective participation of in public administration and political sectors. In relation to this, they proposed strategies to mitigate such challenges. By the end of the event, they had gotten inspired to play an active and visible role in advocacy, community transformation and program implementation within their localities.
ACFODE’s Executive Director Ms. Regina Bafaki shares a light moment with participants after the meeting