“Women in Kiboga have long been sidelined, we hope to put an end to that come 2016…” these remarks were made at a training workshop for women aspiring for political office in 2016. The workshop is part of the activities under the “Empowered to Act: Enhancing Women and Youth Effective Participation in Politics and Decision Making” program implemented in partnership with Konrad Adenauer Stiftung.
The training aimed at not only giving the women aspiring for electable positions the skills and knowledge they require to succeed as they contest for different positions, but also equiping them with tact of delivering on their mandate after the vote. The sessions included the legal and human rights basis for women’s participation in politics, hurdles women face in running for political office, importance of women in political leadership and making the decision to stand with focus on winning political party support. Another key area addressed was; developing a message and a manifesto. All the above topics fed into building a selling candidate’s profile and sustaining the decision to run for political office for the women political aspirants.
Fig.1 An aspirant addressing participants.
From the participants’ expectations, it was clear that despite many of them being second time contestants in the political field, they still required skills in building their profiles as candidates and addressing challenges faced as women while vying for political representation.
Fig.2 Ms Renah Zamukunda an aspiring Woman MP for the Kiboga 2016 parliamentary seat participates in the discussion.
The training brought to light the fact that the legal provisions for women representatives were quite contentious with a revelation that in some cases the Electoral commission used its discretion (calculations) to identify how many women representatives should be elected in a given Sub-county or district. While this is towards meeting the 1/3 representation as stipulated by the EC Act, it disadvantages a few women councilors who represent bigger constituencies in terms of population and distance where sub-counties are merged to fit into the 1/3 representation but the facilitation is the same.
While facilitating at the event, Mr. Erasmus Kimbowa the District Returning Officer, urged the women leaders to use their positions to lobby and advocate for electoral reforms and to ensure fair representation in terms of scope and facilitation for the women leaders both in Parliament and Districts. The principal should be anchored on having facilitation commensurate to the electoral area of coverage.
Fig.3 Mr.Erasmus Kimbowa- the District Returning Officer facilitates during the workshop.
Going forward, participants agreed that hurdles faced by women aspiring for political leadership always come up for discussion during the election period and these underlying challenges may already have affected those other women that feel discouraged. As such, there should be a longer programme to prepare women to effectively engage in the political processes and provide them with an opportunity to deal with these challenges before the decision to run for office is made. This calls for identification of interests of political aspirants before the election period sets in and developing their skills and competence and build a buffer for these women and address challenges of having less qualified women to engage in politics.
Human Rights and Governance Dept.