As Uganda prepares for the 2016 General elections, ACFODE in partnership with KAS conducted grass root citizens’ conversation sessions in Lwamata and Kibiga sub counties in Kiboga district. The sessions were a platform to engage in meaningful discussion with members of the community on the participation of women in politics, including the opportunities available for women in politics, the hindrances they face and how they can be overcome, and to call upon the citizens of voting age to participate actively in the election process and support women in politics. The sessions also focused on the popularization of the Women’s Manifesto 2016-2021 and voter education.
The community was taken through the Women’s Manifesto, a compilation of the five major needs of women throughout the country that they would like the elected leaders to address for the advancement and wellbeing of women in society. The key issues are women’s health, land and property rights, education, economic empowerment, and participation in politics and decision making.
Some of the women’s specific demands include; 5% allocation of the total health budget to maternal health services at all health center IIIs and IVs in the country, designing specific policies and programme measures to protect widows from property and land grabbing, and increase in numbers of women in political leadership at all levels to at least 50% representation.
Ms. Helen Twongyeirwe facilitates the session on the Women’s Manifesto
During the discussion in Lwamata Sub County, it was clear that the men were not yet on board with the issue of land and property rights for women, arguing that traditionally women and girls were not supposed to own land and this was not about to change. Ms. Patricia Okurut, a widow from Kibiga Sub County, told participants that when he husband died, she was given two options, either to be inherited by her husbands’ brother or leave the land she had lived on for over 10 years. She chose to leave and was now struggling to provide for her seven children. She hoped that the leaders would do something to change this situation.
LC III Chairperson contributes to the discussion
Education and health also took center stage in the discussion, with many community members decrying the poor state of schools, which lacked the necessary facilities and teachers. They said the health centers were far away and even they could be accessed, and oftentimes with no drugs.
In response the facilitator, Ms Helen Twongyeirwe, a headteacher and ACFODE member said there was no better time than now (election time) to demand that people competing for elective positions pledge to change the situation. She urged the community members to vote for those individuals who had concrete plans to improve their standards of living and not those who tried to buy their vote.
Mr. Erasmus Kimbowa, the District Registrar addresses the citizens
Also present was Mr. Erasmus Kimbowa, the district registrar Kiboga district, he took the participants through the road map for the upcoming 2016 General elections and their role as citizens. He urged the women to step up and contest for the different positions and the youth to stay away from violence, vote buying and rigging. In his concluding remarks the LCIII chairperson thanked ACFODE for bringing civic education down to the sub counties, saying it was timely and informative. The citizens were finally encouraged not to leave what they had learned there but rather spread the gospel of gender equality to the rest of the community.
A cross section of participants during the event
Human Rights & Governance Department