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Archive for September, 2013

In my previous post I wrote about the research study that is being undertaken by Isis-WICCE to examine the effectiveness of female Members of Parliament and Councilors in influencing decisions for gender equality. In this post I am sharing key finding from the field in Agago and Pader districts, Northern Uganda with women councilors at the local government level.

The system of Local Government in Uganda is based on the District as a Unit under which there are lower Local Governments and Administrative Unit Councils. The  Elected Local Government Councils are made up of persons directly elected to represent electoral areas, persons with disabilities, the youth and women councillors. The Local Government Council is the highest political authority in its area of jurisdiction. The councils are corporate bodies having both legislative and executive powers. They have powers to make local laws and enforce implementation. The Local Governments in a District rural area are: the Sub-County and a Parish.

Given the patriarchal nature of our societies, women still find it very challenging to take up leadership positions. For example in Acholi culture, if a woman wants to contest for political leadership, she has to first ask for permission from her husband, If the husband accepts, the  husband has to consult the clan leaders for approval. The clan leaders will then task the man to tell them how he will manage the family when the wife is away. The clan leaders in most cases will label a woman a prostitute because they assume that she cannot manage to contain her sexual emotions when she is surrounded by men in council meetings. All this is meant to humilate and frustrate the  woman and her husband to give up the political leadership

Joyce Banda

Isnt this  patriarchy at play? Her Excellency Joyce Banda,president of Malawi kneeling to greet her fellow presidents

Source PAWA254

Despite all those challenges, women have braved and a handful have taken on political leadership but their level of participation and engagement is very low and has been reduced to the  ‘3s’ syndrome (Second, Support and Sign) motions  during the council meetings. This has also been attributed to their low level of education and limited knowledge since most of them are primary level graduates. They are easily manipulated, threatened and sexually harassed by the male councilors.

Women Leading to Change

On the other hand, women leaders at lower levels especially at Parish level, have demosntrated the potential and been made a difference in their communities. For example in Agago, three parishes which are chaired by women have been able to make bylaws to curb down child marriage, defilement and reduce maternal death. I a woman delivers at home, the husband is made to pay Ugshs. 250,000; an equivalent of US$100. If a man marries underage girl he pays a fine of Ug shs.100,000; and equivalent of US$40 and is subjected to a community service for a period of one month. A teacher who defiles will lose his job and cannot be employed anywhere in the district. I must say that this is what is called Feminist Leadership and it goes without saying that If the women ruled the world, it would be a better place for all.

The above example clearly shows that women have the potential and the capacity to  lead but Patriarchy which has entrenched our societies for ages cannot allow them to do so. Its high time we dismantle the powers of patriarchy and give women a chance to lead becasue they are better leaders.

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