In preparation for 2016 elections, Action for development together with British Council and with support from European Union, conducted leadership development follow up trainings in Lango Region that is Apac, Oyam, Nebbi and Pader. The trainings ran from 10th to 11th February 2015 and over one hundred thirty (130) women councilors from the four districts were equipped with political leadership, advocacy and lobbying skills.
The one day refresher training provided an opportunity for women leaders to learn how to remain politically relevant and create change in their communities.
A cross section of the participants during the leadership follow up meeting in Oyam district
Participants appreciated the refresher training noting that it was timely since 2016 is drawing closer and they are in the process of preparing for elections. They however pointed out cross cutting challenges they face during campaigns among these;
Cultural beliefs: society does not consider women as political leaders and instead they are meant to be confined to homes to help out with domestic chores and take care of the children. Yet when given opportunity, they can perform better than the men.
Gender roles: This was identified as one of the biggest hindering factors for women vying for political offices; they restrict women because they are supposed to take care of the home chores while men are left to go for campaigns.
Inferiority complex: Women political aspirants have an inferiority complex and fear to run against their male counterparts. This is coupled with the ‘Pull her down attitudes’; by fellow women who try to sabotage those vying for political office.
Marital Status: Unmarried women are normally criticized by the electorate thinking they are incapable and are tagged as prostitutes.
Education levels; Women have low education levels and are limited to certain political positions as the bigger positions cannot be held by them as they do not qualify due to lack of academic credentials.
Party dynamics: Political parties have attitudes that men can deliver the political seat better than women hence women are discriminated against when it comes to choosing party flag bearers. The party structures think men are more appealing to the electorate compared to the women.
Overcoming these obstacles:
Despite the various challenges women face in the campaign race, they were informed that amidst the challenges, there are women who have managed to make it to the top. Therefore they were encouraged to face any sort of obstacles, use them as a stepping stone and utilize the acquired knowledge before and when they assume office.
Information being key in the political arena, women councilors were encouraged to always thirst for the latest information so as to be informed of the different happenings in the world if they are to compete favorably in this harsh political environment.
Women councilors strategizing on how to change their community
In addition, they were encouraged to be pro-active and have personal initiative to see to it that they have personal practical development plans. They ought to network more especially with the women who have made it to the top, learn from them as well as read about these women who have excelled in political areas and other aspects of their lives so they can follow their footsteps.
It is high time women in the rural and urban areas stood up and became more aggressive, assertive and determined to grow and become better leaders. They should equally work harder and go back for higher education so that they are more qualified for top political positions but also ably compete with their male counterparts.
Action for Development in partnership with British Council under the project “Action for strengthening institutions and communities in promoting women’s rights” are committed to seeing women rise and becoming the leaders this nation needs not because they would be doing the electorate a favor but because it is their right and are mandated to participate in leadership.
Human Rights & Governance Department