Event Reports

Women’s Participation in Politics

Grass Roots Citizens Conversation in Apac District

ACFODE and KAS organized grass roots citizens conversations in three Ugandan districts as voter education ahead of the 2016 general elections. Between 9th and 10th September 2015, the conversations took place in Ibuje and Akokoro Sub-Counties in Apac, as well as in Butebo and Kasodo Sub-Counties in Pallisa.

The Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) in cooperation with Action for Development (ACFODE) invited more than 160 citizens, representatives and leaders of Ibuje and Akokoro Sub-County in Apac District to discuss about challenges of women’s participation in politics.

In the beginning the participants shared their experience about the participation of women in their community. It became apparent that women face a number of hurdles and challenges when running for a political office. One female participant reported on discrimination and the violation of the law which she was facing when contesting with another man for an internal party-flagbearer position on village level. She informed the group that the party gave the male candidate more financial support than her and even bought votes and let underage person vote to ensure that the man was going to win the election. Other participants shared similar experiences.

Following this, the participants identified the main hurdles, challenges, and stereotypes women are facing when running for political office and discussed possibilities to overcome such problems. The participants mainly agreed on giving legal protection to women who want to stand for a political position, ensuring better education for girls, and sensitising the community about the issue of women in political leadership by teachers, church leaders, and other stakeholders.

Some of the community members pointed out that people are confused about the internal party elections and the general elections 2016. The facilitator, Ms. Happy Ainomugisha, explained the differences between internal party elections and general elections of community representatives.

Ms. Ainomugisha led a discussion about why women are needed in political positions. The community members pointed out that women’s concerns should be addressed by women themselves because they know best what they need. Moreover the participants highlighted the strength of women’s accountability, transparency, and responsibility which would be an important contribution to good governance on all levels.

Following this first part of the dialogue, the discussion turned to the Women’s Manifesto 2016 to 2021. Ms. Ainomugisha highlighted the areas where women’s rights needed to be strengthened and women’s interests needed to be advocated for. The Manifesto focus on five key areas which are namely women’s health and national’s wealth, women’s land and property rights, women’s education, women’s economic empowerment and women in the political decision making process. Ms. Ainomugisha motivated the participants to use the Manifesto as political agenda to improve the situation of women in Uganda.

After lunch, the Electoral Supervisor of Ibuje Sub-County gave a presentation on the roadmap to the general elections 2016. He pointed out the challenges the Electoral Commission was facing. Among the problems is the communication gap between the Electoral Commission and the public. To overcome these challenges, the Electoral Supervisor asked the participants to be invited to community meetings to inform the people about the election process. Some participants asked how they are able to vote when they have not received their National ID yet. The Electoral Supervisor clarified that as long as people are registered they are allowed to vote. The National ID is not necessarily needed but simplifies the process on the polling day.

Thanks to the lively discussions, the high number of participants, and the engaged community members, the Grass Roots Citizens Conversation was successful. The community members were motivated to support women’s political participation and to promote women’s rights. Some of the concerns the community members mentioned were taken to the regional officer of ACFODE in Apac to follow them up.

The same conversation took place in Akokoro Sub-County one day later. An equally high number of participants discussed about women’s participation in politics.

Author: Nele Krüger, KAS Intern

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