Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, has launched the African Women Leaders Network (AWLN), Uganda Chapter, with a call on women to develop strategies to change attitude of society towards gender equality.
“When I first became Speaker, I remember I went for a radio talk show and of course some people were mesmerized by a woman being a Speaker; a man called and told me that I should not be doing such a job,” Kadaga said during the launch held at Sheraton Hotel on Friday 28 February 2020.
Kadaga said women are still facing discrimination at work, citing an incident where female police officers were transferred from Parliament because they were pregnant.
“In my first term as Speaker in Parliament, two female police officers conceived and within a short time they were withdrawn. I directed the Inspector General of Police to bring them back. If I was not in that position, they would be gone. So we need to keep following up on such issues,” she said.
She however commended government for the progress made in involving women in leadership.
“In Parliament, we [women] are at 32 percent, in Local Government it is over 40 percent, while in the cabinet we [women] are still at 22 percent. That is good progress,” she said.
The Leader of the Opposition in Parliament (LoP), Hon. Betty Aol Ocan, asked women leaders not to give up in the fight to achieve gender equity.
“As women, we always go through different experiences from men. Men are encouraged while women are discouraged,” she said.
Aol gave her experience when she became the LoP, saying that she received some negative sentiments but she did not give up.
“I am the second female LoP but it was not very easy for me to go to that office. That is why I have to tell you women, even if you make mistakes, do not give up, keep moving,” she said.
Dr. Mary Elizabeth Okelo, the founder, Kenya Women Finance Trust and Akili Schools, encouraged women leaders to remain brave and courageous, if they are to achieve 100 percent involvement of women in leadership. She said that her experience at school motivated her to become a leader.
“Society puts different pressures on us from men. At school, while we (women) were being told that if we do not excel, government will not invest in us in higher education, the men were being told that they are the cream and will be the ones to take leadership,” she said.
The Minister of State for Youth and Children at the Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development, Florence Nakiwala Kiyingi said that gender inequality remains a key challenge in development in Uganda, which calls for deliberate interventions to harness existing opportunities to accelerate gender equity.
“According to the global Gender report on harnessing gender equality, Uganda ranks 107 out of 129 countries. The world over is in need of critical transformative leaders, men and women. Leaders who are committed to address root causes of gender equality,” she said.
The African Women Leaders Network is a ground-breaking movement of African leaders. It is an initiative of African women implemented through the African Union. It was launched in 2017 and seeks to enhance the leadership of African women in the transformation of the continent, in line with Africa’s Agenda 2063 and the Global Sustainable Development Agenda 2030.