Report    17th Sep, 2018

Affirmative Action Policy & Women’s Political Empowerment

Despite the numerical increase of women in politics, the policy can no longer guarantee impact on the balance of political power and on development policy that can catalyze efforts to empower the average Ugandan woman to win political power.

by Winnie Watera

Uganda currently holds 31st position on the United Nations Global Index on Women in Parliament, a position achieved by deliberate policy and legislative reforms espoused by Uganda over time. Political representation of women is reinforced by the country’s commitment to international agreements, whose provisions inform national policy and legal frameworks. The legal and policy processes by the government to promote and increase women’s political participation are termed as affirmative action in politics – which the National Resistance Movement (NRM) government is highly credited for. Despite the numerical increase of women in politics, the policy can no longer guarantee impact on the balance of political power and on development policy that can catalyze efforts to empower the average Ugandan woman to win political power. While proponents of affirmative action approve of the successes of the policy and strongly advocate for policy continuity, this paper posits that affirmative action in politics has served its numerical purpose, but it is yet to address issues like patriarchy, ideological emancipation and economic empowerment – and needs to be comprehensively reviewed. Such a review will bring to the fore recommendations that can sustain the current efforts and guarantee a balance of political power to impact on the public policy landscape in Uganda. Through data from Parliament, literature reviews and stakeholder interviews, this paper explores options beyond affirmative action quotas that are vital for creating political balance and include transitioning from the current presidential political system to the parliamentary political system; regulating funding to all political parties based on women nominations; the media providing a platform for women leaders; women networks that promote and sustain women in political spaces; and enacting laws that curb election violence against women.

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