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UGANDA: WOMEN IN PARLIAMENT


This page: Examples of post-conflict countries (Rwanda, left, South Africa, right) that have introduced special measures to guarantee women’s places in Parliament


simple phrase captures the dream of many.


As a female politician in Uganda, these are my guiding principles when I wake up each day, and which is why I remain fully committed to achieving these goals. Having served as the 2nd Vice President of the IPU Women’s Bureau, and being a member of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Uganda Chapter, I undertake assisting you in fulfilling your mandates and responding to the needs of your constituents. I strongly feel that Parliaments are at the heart of democracy and that their views are crucial to all key governance, social, cultural and economic questions of our time. Their input is key to facing the challenges of the post-2015 development framework and ensuring that the sustainability challenges of all developed and developing countries are taken into account.


Rwanda: leading the way While I recognize the universality of the UN declaration, I also realize


the diversity of political systems that are a reflection of its population. Presidential regimes exist alongside constitutional monarchies, multi-party systems exist along one-party states. What is central to most, is that they have recognized the centrality of Parliament to achieving democracy. The story of women’s participation in this process is also one of continual improvement. By 2013, the global average of women in Parliament stood at 25 per cent. In 2011, it was 19.3 per cent, in 1995 11.3 per cent. While overall trends point to an increase in women’s parliamentary representation, the gains are not spread evenly across countries. Approximately 50 Chambers in around 40 countries have reached the 30 per cent mark, recognized as the critical mass for change in Parliament, while nine chambers in nine countries have no women representation whatsoever. For several decades, the Nordic countries on average had 40 per cent female representation


in their Legislatures. While this level of women’s representation is unmatched by any region, the record for women’s representation in national Parliaments is no longer held by any of the Nordic countries. Since 2003, it has been held by Rwanda standing at 64 per cent (2014) women representation.


Rwanda is an example of a post- conflict country that has evolved and constitutionally made a mark in women’s representation. Like South Africa that came out of apartheid, Mozambique, Tanzania, Uganda, Burundi and Macedonia, introduced special measures to guarantee women’s places in Parliament.


The written and unwritten rules Democracy requires constant evaluation and reassessment. In the twentieth century, one of the greatest changes to democracy around the world was the decision to increase the numbers of women, both as voters and as Members of Parliament. Though much has been


achieved, women entering Parliament face various challenges, where they are required to learn the written and unwritten rules, and adapt to them. Once women enter Parliament, the greatest challenge is working towards engendering the parliamentary processes, functions, structures and mainstream gender issues in all parliamentary activities. The question is; how can this be achieved?


Reality check for female politicians


Given that most structures are occupied by men and men monopolize the decision-making positions, this reinforces the notion that leadership roles are for men. In turn men make decisions to protect their interest and positions in power. Women have been socialized to believe they are not leaders. They fear being ostracized in their communities so they tend to praise those in power rather than challenging the status quo even when their interests are


The Parliamentarian | 2014: Issue Three | 175


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