detail - Foundation Office Uganda
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Uganda's affirmative action laws which cater for female representatives at all levels of governance have increased the number of female politicians in parliament and local councils significantly. Female politicians at the national level have embraced their newly acquired status and recognition to affirm their visibility on the frontline of political participation and engagement to push for gender sensitive legislation. Equally at the local councils, a few of the women councilors have tried to emphasize legislation on gender based violence (GBV) and delivery of services to key sectors that affect the advancement of women and girls through enactment of by-laws and gender responsive budget allocations where women and girls’ sectors of interest have been prioritized.
In spite of the registered achievements especially of increased numbers of women engaged in political decision making processes, a number of challenges still affect the effectiveness of female politicians such as institutional bias, stereotyping, poor internal democracy of the political parties, weak electoral laws, violence targeting women, high poverty levels amidst a highly monetized political setup, characterized by high levels of corruption and unethical practices, and lack of sufficient resources to run successful political campaigns, which hits women even harder as they have limited access to resources which are available. All these factors create more barriers for women to engage thus limiting or excluding them from effective political participation. Women are disproportionately more affected by all the above factors than their male counterparts due to the already existing imbalances within the patriarchal system which further expose the female political aspirants to all forms of exploitation and tokenism.
As Uganda prepares for the 2016 elections, the need for women to be active, knowledgeable, and capable players as a critical constituency that actively engages in all processes as voters, political aspirants and as a critical mass that can demand for gender accountability, is apparent against the above described background. Women’s engagement in the process is crucial, especially as a means of influencing the democratic processes in order to bridge gender disparities. Increased and effective participation of women in political spaces ensures that women’s interests and concerns are fairly represented in decision making. However there is need for continuous capacity building, mentorship and empowerment of women to effectively engage in the processes and deliver on their mandate of furthering the women’s agenda at both the national and local level political leadership structures. ACFODE has for over 30 years empowered women to effectively participate in electoral processes at both the local and national levels. Some of the challenges that have still remained are the low confidence levels of the women, limited support from their social structures, and limited knowledge and skills in political campaigns. Despite women engaging in the process as political aspirants, they hardly know their roles and what mandate they have towards their primary constituency – the women.
It is against this background that ACFODE in partnership with KAS plans to conduct trainings for aspiring women leaders. The trainings aim at giving the women aspiring for electable positions not only the skills and knowledge they require to succeed as they contest for different positions but also deliver on their mandate after the vote. As an outcome of the training, the participants should be able to position themselves for party support, know what effective campaigning means, and gain communication skills in order to be considered as a serious political actor. An important aspect as well is media engagement and how the participants can build rapport with the media with tips on what to do and say to further use the media as their selling tool and at the same time avoid bad publicity that may cost them crucial votes.