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Meeting Angella Santa, a woman councillor representing Adekokwok Sub County at Lira district council, Northern Uganda shows the level of transformative leadership initiates Action for Development (ACFODE) and Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung have implemented in Uganda. The former “full time house wife and Catechist” who turned political leader demonstrates the impact of ACFODE and KAS in consolidating democracy through improving the capacities of women to effectively engage in governance processes. “I am what I am because of ACFODE. ACFODE found me deep in the village as a housewife and a Catechist. I had never imagined that I would one time come out and talk and people look at me as a person” Says Santa
Santa and many other women leaders like her are products of the KAS supported ACFODE project on “Enhancing Effective Participation of Women in Politics and Decision Making”. The strategic objective of the project is to increase transformative representation of women in political and decision making positions for them to voice their concerns and monitor effective implementation of government programs and commitments. As part of project activities, ACFODE organized a mentoring workshop for women leaders of Pallisa District in Eastern Uganda. The activity also involved selected beneficiaries of the project from Lira district who shared their leadership experiences with counterparts in Pallisa. One of those is Angella Santa. While at the Country Inn in Palisa Town, Santa told a moving story of how she has beaten all odds to become a district councillor yet for her, this is not the end. Come the next election which is only 2-years away, Santa has vowed to represent the women of Lira District in the national parliament. “The time has come for women to lead, and for me, the sky is the limit” remarked Santa in a spectacular show of ambition as she addressed 30 women leaders from Pallisa district.
With Low levels of education, Santa’s hopes of becoming a leader at one time were far from feasible, as this presented the greatest challenge against her in the 2001 elections which she lost. “I committed all my efforts and meagre resources in campaigning to become a councillor in 2001 but my opponents found ease in campaigning against me over my level of education” remarked Santa. “At this time, I new that education was a pre-condition for me to access leadership and made a decision to go back to school in 2005”. Santa joined senior three at St. Catherine Secondary School and was studying with girls young enough to be her daughters. But the reason for going back to school remained a strong motivation for Santa to work hard which saw her pass with flying colours in the Uganda Certificate of Education Exams in 2006. She is now in senior six which she also hopes to pass and join university in 2009. Once Santa improved her education credentials, the 2006 elections where she also contested for the LC V councillorship became a “walk over” as she won with 99% of the total vote.
Santa credits her achievements to ACFODE’s training programmes that have been ongoing in Lira for several years with support from KAS. Has it not been for ACFODE, Santa says, “may be I would still be a catechist in church”. She noted that it is sensitizations by ACFODE that inspired her into leadership ambitions. She also contends that ACFODE’s programmes have changed attitudes of men to accept their wives to go back to school and even pay for their school fees. At the Pallisa workshop, ACFODE officials and women leaders expressed gratitude to KAS for financial support towards the leadership training and mentorship programmes.