Thursday, August 1, 2013

ACFODE Convenes Women Politicians in a National Experience Sharing Dialogue on Affirmative Action

ACFODE, under the project “Empowered to Act: Enhancing Women and Youth Effective Participation in Politics and Decision Making” partnered with Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) to conduct a one-day national Experience Sharing Dialogue for female leaders under the theme: “Is the time up for affirmative action for Ugandan women in politics?” (Reflecting and Strategizing for 2016) on 25th July 2013. The dialogue brought together 70 female councilors from Apac, Pader, Oyam, Lira, Pallisa, Kampala, Rukungiri, Kisoro, Kiboga and Kole, representatives from the academia, civil society, ACFODE members and relevant government ministries to reflect on affirmative action in Uganda, share experiences and develop strategies for enhancing women’s effective participation in the 2016 elections. 

The Woman MP for Apac district Hon. Ajok Lucy contributing 
to a discussion during the dialogue

Through interactive sessions covering public perceptions of affirmative action and the effective utilization of affirmative action, the dialogue provided a platform for women politicians to celebrate the positive impact of affirmative action in Uganda's politics. In a session facilitated by Hon. Emma Boona, the woman MP for Mbarara, the officials recognized the key role of affirmative action in creating a conducive environment for the enactment of several gender sensitive laws such as the Domestic violence Act, Trafficking in Person’s Act and Female Genital Mutilation Act. They also credited the increased advocacy for funding to pertinent sectors such as the health sector to the increased number of female politicians in power as a result of affirmative action. 

However, a number of challenges were noted in the process of implementing affirmative action, which were cited as critical matters of engagement with relevant stakeholders in order to map a way forward. Of note was the fact that despite possessing the minimum requirements for entry into parliament, many women politicians lack essential skills in effective lobbying and advocacy and are therefore largely unable to yield positive results after debating on pertinent women’s issues. In addition, the existing patriarchal societal values exhibited in parliament, which position women beneath men have slowed down the effectiveness of the women leaders' mandate.

As a result of elaborate discussions on the subject, the women leaders were able to utilize the dialogue space as an avenue to strategize on the next step for women politicians in preparation for the elections in 2016. One of the key principles identified was unity of women in leadership behind a common goal, an ideal which was supported as a major factor in empowering women leaders at both local and national levels to develop a strong, uncontestable agenda to front for the women's movement in the coming years. The Leaders also agreed to prioritize capacity enhancement for women in leadership in crucial areas such as advocacy, lobby, public speaking and research skills, among other skills.

ACFODE therefore calls upon all Ugandan citizens to support women in political leadership. We call upon all male members of parliament to support the advancement of and the debate of critical issues affecting women. We also call upon religious and cultural leaders to institute better mechanisms for promoting the dignity of women. We also call on Civil Society Organizations to build the capacities of women MPs and young aspiring women leaders in areas of lobbying, and research in order to strengthen their effectiveness. We call on all Ugandan citizens to support women in leadership.

Compiled by

Nancy Nandudu

Public Relations and Communications Department

Action For Development

ACFODE Engages Local Female Leaders for Quality Representation

Women Councillors from Namutumba District sharing the process of women 
leader's involvement in the management of the district

Irrefutably, women in Uganda today have become more visible in politics and governance largely due to the onset of affirmative action. However, this increased visibility that is manifest in the growing number of female leaders at both local and national level is yet to translate into effective representation in the different fora, which they represent. This can partly be attributed to the knowledge and skills gap existent among the women leaders, who are undoubtedly faced with several other challenges that negatively affect their productivity.

In this regard, ACFODE conducted training workshops for local women councillors from the districts of Pader, Dokolo and Namutumba in a bid to improve and enhance their leadership capabilities. The workshops, which were conducted under the project “Building and Amplifying Women’s Voices in Economic and Political Development” brought together 60 local female leaders from selected sub-counties in the three target districts from 22nd to 27th July 2013.

The women councillors were equipped with knowledge and skills in Lobbying and Advocacy, Budgeting, Caucusing and Monitoring and Evaluation. The forums provided a platform for experience sharing on the various processes of budgeting and monitoring of government programmes in their respective districts, and also enabled them to share best practices while undertaking lobby and advocacy initiatives.

The bulk of experiences shared from the three districts clearly highlighted flaws in the system of governance and capacity development, which if left unaddressed shall continue to hinder the effectiveness of women's political participation. Of note was the minimal involvement of the women leaders in all decision making processes, as well as limited skills among the leaders, for instance in management and lobbying.

By the end of the two days training, six (6) women caucuses had been formed, two (2) in each of the project districts of operation. The leaders pledged to use the caucuses as forums for raising, discussing and lobbying for key pressing community issues. One of the councillors from Namutumba district had this to say of the training “I now fully understand the budgeting process; formerly the technical wing hasn’t involved us women leaders in this process but with the knowledge I have gained about the budgeting process coupled with the skills in lobbying and advocacy, I can firmly say my representation is going to change.”

Compiled by:

Nancy Nandudu

Public Relations and Communications Officer

Action For Development (ACFODE)