Event    01st Mar, 2018

Roundtable on Gender-Based Affirmative Action in Politics: Implications for Young Women Leaders

Despite the marked increase in the numbers of women in decision-making processes and politics, the affirmative action, in general, and women’s representation in political decision making in particular, has attracted serious controversy and even resistance. A lot of doubt continues to linger around the progress of affirmative action and the roles it plays in increasing quality and empowerment of women participation in politics.

by Emmanuel Kitamirike

Event Date: Wednesday March 7, 2018

Venue: Piato Restaurant

Attendance: Invitation Only

Introdution and Objectives

The Gender-Based Affirmative Action in Politics in its present form in Uganda is closely associated with the coming to power of the NRM government in 1986. Initially, there were special district seats for women in the NRC and compulsory positions for women at the various levels of the 9-member Resistance Councils (now Local Councils). These provisions were consolidated in the 1995 Constitution (Article 32 and 78) as well as the Local Government Act (1997). Since then, gender-based affirmative action has resulted into a marked increase in the number of women in politics and decision-making structures, significantly changing the landscape of politics and decision making in Uganda.

Despite the marked increase in the numbers of women in decision-making processes and politics, the affirmative action, in general, and women’s representation in political decision making in particular, has attracted serious controversy and even resistance. A lot of doubt continues to linger around the progress of affirmative action and the roles it plays in increasing quality and empowerment of women participation in politics. Questions continue to be asked as to whether the deliberate action by government has achieved meaningful gains in as far as the empowerment objectives are concerned. And as a result, several debates have ensued with some groups calling for its blatant abolition while others argue that the limitations it intended to cure are far from over. Amidst this gridlock, the question remains, where do we go from here?

The Constitution bestows upon Parliament the mandate to regularly review special interest representation. Article 78 (2) of the Constitution of Uganda states that ‘upon the expiration of a period of ten years after the commencement of this Constitution and thereafter, every five years, Parliament shall review the representation under clause (1) (b) and (c) of this article for the purposes of retaining, increasing or abolishing any such representation and any other matter incidental to it’. Its not known whether Parliament has ever undertaken a comprehensive review and consequently document the outcome to inform the previous resolutions to retain the representations. The women’s case is special because the unwritten underlying objective was to institute an affirmative programme that builds and empowers women to contest in mainstream political positions and thereby open more opportunities for new and young emerging women leaders.

Thus, the Public Policy Institute (www.ppi.or.ug) and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (www.fes-uganda.org) has scheduled a roundtable discussion on the eve of the global commemoration of Women’s Day as an intellectual platform to appraise the extent to which the current gender-based affirmative action is a secure policy for empowering and building a critical mass of women in politics and decision making. The intellectual discussion will exceptionally seek to critically analyse the policy of affirmative action in Uganda, examine its implementation arrangements and assess its effectiveness in empowering a critical mass of women in decision making and politics including the new and young emerging women leaders.

Participants

This round table will draw a limited but carefully drawn list of 25 participants from Parliament (mainly the Commission, Office of the Speaker and the Uganda Women Parliamentary Association), civil society (particularly the women’s political organisations), academia, political parties and the Executive. In addition, representation will be sought from selected women cluster groups such as those in business and in the corporate world. The media will be invited to both participate and cover the proceedings.

Speakers

Ms. Joyce Nalunga Birimumaso (Uganda Law Society)

Alternative models for increasing both quality and quantity of women participation in politics and decision-making structures.

Hon. Amoding Monicah (Uganda Women Parliamentary Association)

Innovations in policy and law to empower women to favorably compete with men for political positions at the highest level of decision-making.

Prof. Sarah Salli (School of Women and Gender Studies)

A contextual appraisal of the gender-based affirmative action in politics and the necessity for regular review

Outcome

Following the discussions, a contextual analysis shall be undertaken to provide a working policy paper on Gender-based Affirmative Action in Politics. The paper will highlight the trends, statistics and policy issues critical to informing policy and legislative measures that close the gaps identified in the analysis.

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