Governments and states are the primary duty bearers. The government of Uganda has ratified a number of human rights instruments that promote the participation of women and other marginalised groups in governance of their affairs. In all these commitments, the government of Uganda agreed to recognize the right of every person to take part in the government of his or her country (Article 21 UDHR) access of men and women to power, decision-making and leadership at all levels is a necessary precondition for the proper functioning of democracy.
Despite the government commitments to promoting good governance including the effective participation of women and other marginalised in decisions making, key political stakeholders including elected leaders, technical leaders and the general population are not adequately informed about the principles of democracy, the importance of having women as part of the governance structures, good governance and in particular their application under the new pluralistic system. There are also several challenges in ensuring that the interests of special groups such as the women, youth, children and persons within disabilities are properly aggregated and effectively responded to within the governance process.
In addition, leaders both political and technical at the local level are also not adequately informed about the principles of democracy, the importance of having women as part of the governance structures, their roles and responsibilities in the governance process as elected representatives of the people. This is partly due to the fact that very few local governments are able to conduct induction trainings for newly elected leaders. The leaders are hence not presented with adequate opportunities to learn and appreciate their democratic functions and this greatly affects their performance.
It is against this brief that ACFODE with support from Diakonia Uganda is implementing a three year project on “Strengthening Community Participation in Local Governance and Promotion of Women and Girls’ Rights in Lango Sub-region particularly the districts of Amolator and Oyam. ACFODE organised 2 days training workshops newly elected duty bearers (women and men) with a focus on improving local governance and service delivery.
The training aimed at equipping the leaders with information, skills and knowledge on the significance of; mainstreaming and paying consideration to gender in planning and implementation of policies and programmes including routine consultation of rights holders on pressing issues. Also ACFODE provided a platform for interaction, sharing of ideas and opinions among the duty bearers (political and technical leaders).
In Oyam district, the vice Chairperson Hon. Milly Molly appreciated the training citing that it is timely, since most of the leaders are new in political leadership. She urged participants to pay close attention to the content of the training as they are in preparation for budget conferences for the coming financial year.
Some of the topics included gender planning and mainstreaming, Duty bearers were called upon to adhere to key elements of gender mainstreaming. This stems from the local government budget conference to the implementation stage. The concerns of both women and men inform the integral part of the design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation of policies and programmes. This strategy is aimed at addressing the gender inequalities of both women and men.
In both districts, political leaders were advised to own a copy of the Ugandan constitution, the Local Government Act and Standard Rules of Procedure for them to deliberate lawfully in their council.
Commitments were made by both political and technical leaders to ensure that all the district budgets and plans are gender responsive, and pledge by police department to ensure that in their weekly community policing issues of teenage marriage, early pregnancies are highly prohibited.