The run up to the 2016 General Elections presents a unique opportunity for women in Uganda to reflect and position themselves for the different opportunities within their political parties and the overall political structures of their country. In order to speak with a unified and strong voice towards, during, and after the elections, women’s issues in the country need to be discussed broadly and the different views and opinions have to be streamlined. Through that, the 2016 elections will not only be a step towards strengthening democracy in Uganda, but ideally also strengthen the standing of women in society, politics, and economy.
In light of the above context, ACFODE in partnership with KAS organized a 1 day national convention to provide an opportunity for women in politics to reflect on the current political climate in Uganda in regard to gender equality and on challenges encountered by women in engendering politics in Uganda, share strategies of how to make women relevant in their respective political parties towards the 2016 elections, reflect and discuss key issues that will contribute to the women’s manifesto for the 2016 elections, which will be used as a bargaining tool for the political aspirants, and discuss how the media can influence the political structures and practices towards realising gender mainstreaming on all levels.
The convention attracted women legislators from the districts of Kampala, Pader, Namutumba, Dokolo, Pallisa, Kiboga, Kisoro Rukungiri, Apac, Kole and Oyam. The councilors agreed on five pertinent issues that should be part in the women’s Manifesto these included; Access to Education, Health, Effective Political Representation, Violence against women and girls and Secure Access to Productive resources.
Speaking at the conference, lawyer and Human rights activist Mr. Nicholas Opiyo advised the participants on harnessing the media to further the women’s agenda. “Women need to make relevant/contentious points and the media will always cover you. Make the women’s agenda relevant. Know who to speak to; you need to interest the content manager-gatekeeper of the media houses.”
Lawyer and Human Rights Advocate Nicholas Opiyo makes his presentation.
In regard to the perceived decline of the women’s movement, Mr. Nicolas Opiyo said we had ‘NGOlised’ the women’s movement and that we needed to go back and take lessons from people led movements as opposed to NGOs. “…it is not about donors, work plans, proposals and log frames; we need to find power in individual women.” Throughout history this has been the case. We need to go back to people based movements that require and facilitate change.
Figure 2: Lawyer and Human Rights Advocate Nicholas Opiyo makes his presentation.
Participants agreed that there should be a gender audit of political parties as a requirement for their operation. Parties should be tasked to show that that they have gender considerations. Not just in party structures and constitutions but in actual numbers. Those without gender considerations should be de-registered.
As a way forward the legislators agreed that the issues discussed should not stop here, the legislators should hold community dialogues with the electorate to educate them about and garner support for the National Women’s Manifesto; additionally even though this was a convention for women, that involvement of men should not be ignored. Men are key allies and women cannot work effectively without them. Women leaders were urged to create women’s cells and involve and mentor young women in these processes; as they are the next generation of leaders and the women’s movement.
A legislator from Dokolo District contributes to the Discussion
Human rights & Governance Department