By Rukiya Makuma
The womens movement in Uganda yearns for renewal
Dr. Sarah Ntiro, Rhoda Kalema, Specioza Wandera Kazibwe, Miria Matembe and others They had there time, held the stage and gathered lots of support from the women in the country; but now some might say – the time has come for them to bow out.
The view that the womens movement needs new players is gaining currency. Top on the list of contenders are women who are not only staunch advocates of womens rights but are also ready be leaders of other women. Not necessarily a feminist, but an activist; a great leader who happens to be a woman. Who will it be?
Among the new players in the game are Ingrid Turinawe, Monicah Amoding, and Margret Wokuri the list goes on
Ingrid, 36, is the National chairperson FDC womens league and chairperson women for peace (IPC). She came to the limelight when police foiled their attempt to demonstrate and she has not turned back. The women were demonstrating against Kiggundu Badrus continued tenure as chairperson of the electoral commission, they want him to resign as chairperson of the Electoral Commission something he is not willing to do. Ingrid says they plan to disrupt Kiggundu’s work and life with peaceful demonstrations until he quits or until the 2011 elections.
She is says women have suffered most under the current political dispensation because poor services in hospitals and school and the high cost of living and declining standards of living. She says merely hiring 40 women as RDCs does not count if hospitals lack drugs.
She says that the women in power today just hold the positions but they have no power to influence decisions.
Their role is to sugar coat all the wrongs of the government, she says and blames the current government for keeping women in deputy positions and discarding them if they outlive their usefulness. She cites the example of Specioza Wandera Kazibwe the former vice president. She is now past tense.
Monicah Amoding, who is the coordinator for Uganda Women Parliamentary Association (UWOPA), can be compared to Jane Babiiha Alisemera and Dora Byamukama a Member of the East African Legislative Assembly. She is among the women who are struggling to liberate and elevate womenâ€™s status in society. UWOPA was at the fore front of the domestic relations bill, divorce and marriage bill that were intended to help upgrade the status of women. She says leading the liberation movement has not been easy.
Margret Wokuri a woman activist can be compared to the likes of the DR. Sarah Ntiro, Professor Joy Kwesiga. They are intellectuals who made their intentions clear through writing. Margret followed the same footsteps, she writes about issues that have always tied down women and here she hopes to help women understand their worth.Â
Such women and more are needed to lead the women movement as part of the global women movement basing on the Beijing Platform for Action for Equality, Development and Peace that was signed in that Chinese city in September 1995.
The Platform for Action is an agenda for womens empowerment specifically for women leadership. There was cumulative progress in the early 1940s when women had only a few of there gender in leadership. In the 1960s/70s, there was not much and women did not contribute in decision making. Today the case is different; many women are coming up in all sectors of the economy and politics.
Organizations like FOWODE, FIDA, ACFODE and UWONET have come up to fight for womenâ€™s rights and to ensure that women achieve their status in society.
Deborah Kaddu Serwadda, the founder of ICON Women & Young Peopleâ€™s Leadership Academy and also a patron of the Girls2Leader Movement in Uganda, is involved in grooming the new women leaders. She says her organisations help young women and individuals to decide what areas of leadership they want and how to run an organisation.
She says when recruiting, they do not necessary state that women need to go to politics because women are leaders naturally; they nurture children, are wives and can also influence their husbands. She says that her role is to mentor young women who can take over leadership.
She has mentored people like Monicah Amoding the current coordinator of UWOPA. It is ardent people like Kaddu who have a strong passion for women leadership who will help elevate the status of women in this country.
Staunch woman activist Miria Matembe cautions the upcoming women leaders to ensure they are united across political parties.
It is important to define and develop a common agenda that brings them together and cuts across political parties for the benefit and advantage of the women folk in this country, she says, If they allow themselves to be divided in parties as is the case, they will be used, exploited, oppressed as was the situation in the 1970s and early 80s.
The current government introduced affirmative action for women. It oversaw the increase in the number of women in positions of leaders across all strata of society. Whether the next generation of women leaders spring from the ruling party or the opposition is not a question to debate about, all that matters is how resolute and far the cub will go.