“For me, a better democracy is a democracy where women do not only have the right to vote and elect but to be elected”, Michelle Bachelet – former President of Chile.
Uganda still faces inequitable participation of women in political leadership and decision making processes. According to a UNDP Report published in 2011, the Government is credited for promoting gender mainstreaming through affirmative action in political representation and setting women’s quotas in parliament and Local Councils. As a result of these efforts, the percentage of women councilors at all levels has exceeded the 30% statutory requirement (41.6% at district, 41.9% at municipal and 46.5% at sub county/division levels). Despite the increase in numbers, women’s influence in decision making processes remains minimal. Several factors have been cited for this occurrence including; the difficulty to balance their leadership and domestic responsibilities, low literacy levels, low self-esteem, lack of spousal support and limited financial resources among others.
With support from the Democratic Governance Facility (DGF), CEWIGO is implementing a three-year project aimed at creating an enabling environment for women and female youth to effectively participate in decision making processes and political leadership. As part of this project, sub-county/division based community dialogues on Women’s Civic Rights and Roles and Responsibilities of Leaders in promoting good service delivery in the districts of Bushenyi, Buhweju, Mbarara, Hoima, Masindi, Kapchorwa, Kween and Jinja were organized. The dialogues attracted 766 (366 men & 400 women) different local leaders and community representatives such as District and Sub county technocrats, Local Government Chairpersons, Women Councilors, Women council representatives, opinion leaders, police officers, spouses of women political leaders and youth representatives. Mr. Mwijukye Francis, the Member of Parliament for Buhweju County attended the dialogue conducted in Rwengwe sub-county in Buhweju district.
The participants were given a platform to not only air out their views but also make recommendations on how to address barriers to women’s political participation and how to improve service delivery. Additionally, music, dance and drama was used as a tool to convey the key messages on gender injustices at household and community levels for example denial of girl child education, domestic violence, adultery and child marriages.
“The gender inequality issues brought out in the play are very rampant in our sub county and we shall do our best to preach against them in church”, Rev. Francis Kitiyo-Parish Priest, Ngenge Sub county, Kween district.
Drama was lauded by the leaders and community members as an effective tool for awareness raising and mind-set change. “I appeal to CEWIGO to build the capacity of drama groups so that they can spread the message of gender equality to wider audiences. More dialogues of this kind should be organized especially at grass roots level”, Ryongu Fred, District Councilor representing Sipi Town Council, Kapchorwa district. CEWIGO was appreciated for training women councilors on their roles and responsibilities.
“I extend my appreciation to CEWIGO for their earlier engagements with women leaders in Jinja district. According to the feedback I received, the women councilors who participated in the training you organized for them learnt a lot and I believe they’re now carrying out their duties more efficiently”, Betty Mutesi-Assistant Town Clerk, Walukuba Masese division, Jinja Municipality.
Local leaders across the different districts pledged to use their platforms to address issues of GBV and improve service delivery. Some of the commitments included; following up and acting on the allegations of corruption, community sensitization on the dangers of GBV and existing services for survivors by LC Is and LC IIs and inclusion of identified community priorities in the District development plans and budgets by technocrats. We shall continue engaging with these communities and their leaders to ensure that the commitments made are implemented.
Written by Winnie Nabisinyo, M&E Officer