As 2016 draws closer, the women of Uganda with renewed determination are gathered here today to bring to the fore the critical issues affecting the women of this country. Our concerns and demands to the government, political parties and citizens of Uganda are;  

  1. Our disappointment with the 9th Parliament.

We the women of Uganda express our extreme disappointment with the 9th Parliament regarding their decision to pass the Constitutional Amendment Bill on August 11, 2015 omitting the views of women and the citizens of Uganda.

The proposals submitted by the women of Uganda to the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of the Parliament of Uganda were informed by a cross section of women and men’s voices from 112 districts of Uganda who converged in Kampala on December 4, 2014 after regional consultations to internalize, debate and propose areas for constitutional reforms from a gender and women’s rights perspective.

 

We had hoped that if the gaps in the Constitution were addressed, they would enhance an inclusive democratization process; the rule of law, and the respect of human rights and gender equality. Unfortunately millions of Ugandans looked on in utter disbelief as the women’s and citizens voices whom the MPs are mandated to represent were left out in the Bill that was passed by Parliament, and yet democracy is a government of the people by the people and for the people.

As we go to vote in the 2016 elections WDG calls upon citizens to analyze their aspiring representatives seriously so that they give their powers to leaders who will represent them in earnest.

  1. Call on women to  actively participate in the 2016 elections

Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948 states that "Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives…The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures."

 

i) The new process of voting in LC1 elections by lining up behind ones candidate of choice is in contravention of  Article 21 of the UDHR to which Uganda is a party. This also has implications on the participation of citizens particularly women because it can lead to violence due to lack of secrecy and difference in choice of candidate. WDG demands that the EC and other stakeholders including CSOs and media conduct an intensive voter education on freedom of choice during an election. WDG also calls upon spouses and partners to use persuasion to convince each other to their side instead of violence.

 

ii) Participation of citizens in the just concluded display of the voters register and its implication on the participation of citizens in the forth- coming election processes

The just concluded display of the voters register shows the need for women and men to actively participate in each electoral process. WDG sampled 15 polling stations in 15 districts in four regions of Uganda including West Nile region, Eastern region and Western region. The findings revealed that most citizens were more concerned about getting their national identification cards than checking the registers to find out if their particulars and photographs were correctly captured; less people were interested in working with the EC officials to identify the dead, non-citizens; under age, those who appear more than once for removal from the register. The citizens’ apathy and ignorance about the importance of their participation in each electoral process will negatively impact the holding of free and fair elections and the expression of their aspirations in the outcomes of the 2016 elections.

iii) The participation of women in the political party processes and primaries

Uganda is party to a number of conventions on gender equality and women’s participation including the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance. Article 29(3) of the charter states that state parties shall take all possible measures to encourage full participation of women in the electoral process and ensure gender parity and representation at all levels of democracy.

Article 33 (4) of the Constitution of Uganda provides that women shall have the right to equal treatment with men and that right shall include equal opportunities in political, economic and social activities.

The issue of inclusive and active participation of women in the different political parties remains problematic because most of the political parties still have less than 25 percent of their National Executive Committee positions occupied by women. To further illustrate the gender inequality in political parties of the six political parties currently represented in Parliament the figures from the Electoral Commission for 238 seats for directly elected MPs who were nominated to contest in the 2011 election are as follows:

Party

Female

Male

Conservative Party

1

6

Democratic Party

6

80

Forum for Democratic Change

4

184

Justice Forum

0

12

National Resistance Movement

9

228

Uganda People’s Congress

3

99

 

The figures at local council level with regard to nomination for the position of Chairperson and Directly elected councilor were even worse for women. Only DP and NRM presented female candidates for the position of district chairperson (1 and 3 respectively); with regard to the directly elected seat for district councilors DP presented 3 female candidates and 148 males; FDC presented 8 female candidates and 665 males, NRM presented 26 female candidates in comparison to 1,306 males and UPC presented 2 female candidates in comparison to 219 males.

 

Given the statics in the table above there is need for political parties to take deliberate action in ensuring that their policy and legal frameworks are in conformity with international, regional and national legal frameworks on women’s participation and gender equality in politics. In addition, political parties should enforce their legal and policy frameworks on women’s participation and gender equality to the letter. WDG and other CSOs will intensify civic education to women in particular on the implications of choosing parties that do not reflect the diversity of their membership and the population of Uganda. 51 percent of Uganda’s population is comprised of women.

 

WDG applauds the women who have with stood the challenges faced with standing for political positions and  calls upon citizens to support women running for direct seats and other elective positions by raising resources for them, voicing their issues, by media providing free platforms for women candidates and by citizens voting for women particularly those contesting for direct seats. WDG further calls upon citizens to vote for leaders who have a feasible plan on how they will use their leadership to address the issues citizens face bearing in mind their mandate in different elective positions.

 

  1. Call for Peace and Respect for rule of Law during and after the 2016 Elections

As the elections draw closer, there is a looming cloud of violence in Uganda characterised by the recruitment of our young boys and girls into militia groups such as the ones formed by Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago, Maj. Roland Kakooza Mutale and the recruitment of Crime Preventers. Citizens can attest to the mayhem caused by the “Kiboko” squad and similar groups in the past elections.

 

In the past election processes, citizens witnessed a series of disturbing events in which the State and its law enforcement agencies responded in a brutal and often excessive manner to various political actors including women. This brutality is unacceptable and counters citizens’ aspirations for respect for rule of law, peace, inclusion, and true democracy. These acts are unconstitutional and curtail freedoms of expression and assembly as guaranteed to all Ugandans in the 1995 Constitution of Uganda.

 

As women of Uganda, we call for an environment of peace, calm and freedom to campaign, articulate real concerns, and equal participation of women and men in the campaigns without fear, favor and prejudices.

We call upon the ministry of Internal Affairs to disband and enforce constitutional and other subsidiary legislative provisions against such clandestine groups.

 

d) WDG calls upon all citizens, political parties and stake holders to focus on an issue based electoral campaign process informed by the needs of the citizens for example the women’s manifesto which highlights the following five key areas;

  • Women’s health;
  • Women’s land and property rights;
  • Women and education;
  • Women’s economic empowerment; and
  • Women, politics and decision making.

 

CONCLUSION

2016 provides an opportunity for citizens to exercise their constitutional rights to be elected and to elect people centered representatives who will represent their aspirations in various elective positions.

For citizens to actively participate in the 2016 elections there must be law and order, respect for the rule of law, an inclusive democratization process and the respect for human rights and gender equality.

 

Democracy cannot truly deliver for all citizens if half of the population remains underrepresented in the political and development arena. For democratic governments to deliver to their constituents, they must be truly representative, gender responsive and recognize that women must be equal partners in the process of governance and development. (Beijing platform for Action para.18)

 

For and on behalf of women of Uganda, Action for Development (ACFODE), Center for Women in Governance (CEWIGO), Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE), Uganda Women’s Network (UWONET), and the Women’s Democracy Network-Uganda Chapter (WDN-U) pronounce themselves on the above issues.

 

 

UNITED WOMEN CAN!

 

FOR GOD AND MY COUNTRY 

© WDN Uganda Chapter 2014