Uganda is this Sunday joining the rest of the world to mark the International Women’s Day.
Nationally, this year’s event is being marked under the theme, “Celebrating 25 years of the 1995 constitution: Milestones on promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment in Uganda.”
A head of the celebrations, we take stock of the milestones that Uganda has reached in having more women taking up leadership postilions especially in government.
Currently, there are 33 Senior Ministers, 12 of whom are women (36%) compared to 21% in 2004. Out of 46 Ministers of State, 14 are women (30.43%). Within the opposition shadow cabinet, eight out of 39 shadow ministers (20.5%) are women.
The 10th Parliament has 157 female Members of Parliament (MPs), 116 of whom are District Women MPs. The percentage of female representatives in Parliament now stands at 34.86%.
The 10th Parliament featured two female leaders of the Opposition for the first time and the Speaker for the 9th and 10th Parliaments has been female. Increasingly, women are leading parliamentary committees, with 11 committees out of 28 being chaired by women. Additionally, women make up 46% of Chairs of the standing committees and 41% of standing committee vice chairs.
This can partly be attributed to the legal framework that’s been put in place.
Article 33 (5) of Uganda’s population provides for affirmative action in favour of women for purposes of addressing imbalances created by history, tradition and customs.
The Local Government Act (Cap 243, Section 2c) establishes a democratic, political and gender sensitive administrative setup in Local Governments. As such, in 2016, women constituted 45.7% of all local government representatives (27,755 persons).
Within the Judiciary, women constitute 44% of judges in the higher levels of the High Court, 36% in the Court of Appeal and 44% in the Supreme Court. There are still gaps in Public Service where women account for 39.8% of the staff in all the 21 Ministries compared to 60.2% of men; and majority of the women employed in the public sector hold lower ranking positions (ranging from U8 to U4 in the case of mainstream public service).
The Uganda People’s Defence Forces (UPDF) has taken deliberate efforts to increase women in armed forces which have been historically male-dominated field.
These include: deliberate promotion of women into higher decision-making positions, representation of female employees in the National Parliament, integrating gender concerns in peace keeping processes, creation of a Directorate of Women Affairs and institutionalizing a zero-tolerance policy for GBV to ensure women’s full enjoyment of their rights.