Kampala, Uganda | GODFREY SSALI | Former Ethics and Integrity minister Dr. Miria Matembe has challenged women to take up more leadership positions in the forthcoming general elections, in order to achieve gender balance.
Matembe also former Mbarara district woman Member of Parliament expressed concern that women are leaving their male counterparts to occupy most of the elective positions yet the decisions taken by leaders affect mainly women and children.
“The path to a socially just world and achieving gender equality begins with increased access to and participation of women in decision making spaces to highlight the plight of women and girls and develop strategies for the betterment of our standards of living,” she said.
Matembe was speaking at Hotel Africana during a symposium organized by Akina Mama wa Afrika, a feminist-Pan-African leadership development organization that empowers women in leadership by equipping them with skills and knowledge.
The symposium was under the theme: Reimaging Leadership in the 21st Century.
She also lashed out at a section of women in leadership whom she said are advancing personal interests instead of pushing for the greater well being of all women and the nation at large.
Matembe who is currently serving as the board chairperson of the Citizens’ Coalition for Electoral Democracy in Uganda (CCEDU) cited the affirmative action policy which she said has been abused by many women politicians.
“We are still having few women in mainstream constituencies. I would like to see women extend themselves to the mainstream constituencies because the affirmative action came in to give them a stepping stone,” she added.
“Many female politicians have overstayed in women seat positions in parliament and this is sad because the principle for which affirmative action was to introduce as many women as possible onto the political scene”.
Women representation is at 34 percent in Parliament and 40 percent in local councils today, compared to the single digits before affirmative action.
For her part, the Executive Director of the Foundation for Women’s Health Research and Development (FORWARD) United Kingdom, Naana Otoo-Oyortey MBE said the symposium is part of the efforts towards the building of women’s capacity for leadership through life skills training and mentoring support.
“One of the objectives of the Women in Leadership Symposium is to interrogate the state of women’s leadership in Uganda and reimagine transformational leadership development models that work for women in the 21st century,” She said.
The Feminist and Transformational Leadership manager, Chipo Bangira appealed to the government of Uganda and relevant stakeholders to strengthen efforts towards fulfilling their commitment to increasing women’s representation and meaningful participation at all levels of decision making.
The Tuwezeshe Akina Dada Young Women’s Leadership and Mentorship Programme is supported by Comic Relief and UN Women Uganda.
Having strengthened the leadership capabilities of about 75 young women in Uganda and more than 100 outside Uganda, they today demonstrate confidence and ability to influence and shape decisions about their bodily integrity, rights and entitlements including accessing services, ability to seek justice and make informed choices in their lives.
The young women are part of a robust network, fighting for the rights and freedoms of women and girls across Africa and the diaspora and have received mentorship from some of the most innovative and influential women leaders.