Uganda shows way in giving importance to women in politics

Ruth-Nankabirwa

KUALA LUMPUR: Uganda is showing the world that it is giving importance to women in politics.

Women now make up 35% of the total number of MPs in Uganda — which exceeds the global average of 23%.

Uganda’s government chief whip Ruth Nankabirwa said Uganda’s constitution states that there must be at least 30% of women in Parliament.

“There are also interest groups represented in Parliament, such as youth, people with disability and workers.

“For each of these groups, there must be a female representative.

“You have to make strategic interventions, as nobody will hand it to you on a silver platter.”

Nankabirwa was speaking at a question-and-answer session at the International Conference on Women in Politics 2017 at the Putra World Trade Centre today.

Nankabirwa was asked by a participant on Uganda’s strategy to increase women’s participation in politics.

Prime Minister Najib Razak earlier spoke about reserving 30% of places in the Senate to women. He recently said the government would “name and shame” public-listed companies that have no female board members from next year.

Present at the conference were National Council of Women’s Organisations (NCWO) president Sharifah Hapsah Syed Hasan Shahabudin, United Nations women regional director for Asia and the Pacific Dr Miwa Kato, Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Azizah Mohd Dun, Kyrgyzstan Forum of Women’s NGOs president Dr Nurgul Djanaeva, and the Governor of Ramallah and Al-Bireh in Palestine Dr Laila Ghannam.

Nankabirwa said Uganda practises an affirmative action policy to groom more confident and articulate women into politics.

It was introduced by President Yoweri Museveni’s administration in 1986 and has seen a number of women in political leadership.

Aside from female MPs, Nankabirwa said women held 31 of 77 ministerial positions in the government, holding such important portfolios as education; health; works and transport; energy and human resources; land, housing and urban development; and trade and industry.

She said Uganda’s constitution had guided law reforms to promote gender equality, with a number of laws enacted, such as the Domestic Violence Act, as well as the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act.

She also said Uganda’s constitution had several sections which banned discrimination based on sex.

The country, she said, had also ratified key important conventions, such as those on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women.

She said in the past, Uganda even had women generals during its liberation struggle.