Today is Independence Day. And it is not just Independence Day but Uganda is celebrating 50 years of Independence. Now, I am not that old, so all I have seen is the present day government but my need and curiosity to want to know has led me to ask questions. I realize though that I may never be able to have all my questions answered in this classroom called life:
Last week I attended the Women’s National Week conference, here in Kampala organised by Uganda Women’s Network.
Women in Uganda today are doing well according to statistics : Women hold 17% of the Parliamentary seats, while men take 83%. In the Ugandan Cabinet: there are 16 women and 54 men. That is quite a good representation considering they are way better than countries like Ghana and Nigeria.
Today , there so many women that belong in the board rooms. High Heels, Short skirts and eloquence take the day. In Uganda women own a micro-finance institution that according to Uganda Women’s Trust which is the parent body is to become a bank before the end of this year.
We have a woman speaker of parliament and the speaker of EALA who is also female comes from Uganda.
The women choose to celebrate these milestones. To them they are more than added advantage, they are great milestones. Not frequently seen and or heard of in other parts of Africa.
But there is the other side of the coin as well. The older women are crying out for being left out as they want to be made good use of even in their sunset days. The young want to be mentored and brought up in the ways of the women Movement.
The two side make it only a normal society or gathering of people. Not everyone is in agreement with the norm.
However even as the great achievements were highlighted: a few truths brought us all back to reality:
- Some women in Uganda are still afraid of speaking out against domestic violence. They prefer to be abused as long as their husbands stay with them in the homes and not go to prison. Some women still believe that being beaten is a sign of love.
- When Climate Change happens and natural disasters strike the most affected are the women and the girl child. they take up multiple roles of providing safety and making sure there is food to the rest of the family. But are they involved in the policy making?
- Women are still victims of gender based violence.The Bill has been tabled before Parliament but it is yet to be passed.
- Female Genital Mutilation is still a problem in Eastern Uganda even after the law was passed because parents believe that it is good for their young girls.
- In Uganda 6,000 women die every year from pregnancy related complications. Most of them take on other complications due to the manner in which they give birth. Such complications include: Fistula, Depression, and some get disabled.
- The rate of child marriages in Uganda is still high. This recent story being referred to most. But obviously, many of these heart wrenching tales never make it to the press.
These highlights and much more were the reason that there was a lot of resolve to make it right in our communities, women groups but most importantly within ourselves as individuals.
Can any of these issues be fixed: Yes, Together Ugandan Women Can as was the theme of the event!