Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Uganda Women's Agenda:Background and Preamble

Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE)
Published in Uganda

On behalf of The Women’s Movement


“Once again we make our voices heard, emphasising that we are equal by right, claiming our position at the center and refusing to be kept at the sidelines”

As Uganda gears up for another election in 2011, we once again come together to present our concerns and make our demands known to the political parties, impressing it upon Ugandans, that real development can only be realized when women’s issues are recognized as Uganda’s development issues.

FOWODE embarked on the development of the women’s agenda with the intention of creating a tool to inform political parties and other stakeholders about the concerns of the women of Uganda while detailing what the women would like the incoming Government to address. FOWODE carried out a survey across 22 districts of Uganda and gathered views from a cross section of women about the challenges they faced and how they would like them to be addressed. These views were shared at a Women in Politics Conference held in June, 2010 with a cross section of members of civil society, the academia, women leaders and politicians, from the key political parties of Uganda, who further input into the process. A key outcome of the discussions was the decision to hold further consultations with other groups of women that had not been reached.

A series of three consultative meetings were subsequently held with women representatives from: religious groups, the elderly, the academia – teaching and non teaching staff and women in small scale businesses. Following these consultations, a steering committee was set up to synthesize the findings and finalize the development of the Agenda.

The Production of the Uganda Women’s Agenda is part of a journey that the women of Uganda, The Women’s Movement and Women’s Organizations have taken since 1996 when women made history by being the first to develop the highly successful “The People’s Manifesto 1996” followed by “The Women’s Manifesto 2001”. When the country reopened up to pluralism in 2005, the women consulted nationally and developed a position paper on the Government White Paper on opening up Multipartyism as well as a set of demands; “Women’s Minimum Demands to Political Parties and Organizations”. This was subsequently followed by “The Women’s Manifesto 2006“


Many a time, convincing the public about the centrality of women and girls empowerment is an uphill task. Being a woman and a girl in Uganda remains uniquely perilous and as such women and girls generally languish at the bottom of most social development indicators. This Agenda aims at bringing to the forefront unique gender dimensions that various actors ought to address if real and meaningful development that allows for the total empowerment of Ugandan women and girls is to be achieved.

The women’s agenda is important for the following reasons:

§ Changing Times, Changing Strokes – Its undeniable that women and girls have over the last few years registered a number of achievements. Nonetheless, at the same time, new and other challenges keep arising such as: waning political will, rise in religious, economic and cultural fundamentalisms ,weaker states in the developed world, closing down of political space, discovery of oil resources, and the global economic crisis. Hence, just as the times are changing, women’s needs, desires, aspirations and demands are also ever evolving. The Agenda brings to the front key issues that women of Uganda have prioritized as being pivotal to their development.

§ Women have played and continue to play a key role in the democratic process in Uganda - As Uganda consolidates its multiparty democratic dispensation, women continue to play a pivotal role. Women are equally concerned about the country’s future, have participated and continue to be part of shaping the nascent democratic space, so as to hold a central place in both the reproductive and productive life of the country. Through this agenda, the women are contributing to the critical ongoing debate on priority concerns for the women of Uganda.

§ “Women’s Issues” are Uganda’s Development Issues: “Women’s Issues” matter in Uganda because they are development issues and women are a very important majority of the population whose contribution to the country is significant to its well-being. While it is appreciated that there are other processes like: The Citizens Manifesto; Political party manifestos, People’s Platforms and Agenda’s, the Women’s Agenda prioritises and specifically touches upon matters of critical concern to women in Uganda. It is therefore very important and critical that the architects of the future political structure in the Country take on board their views, aspirations and suggestions in the agenda.

§ The Power of Numbers: It is a well-known fact that the backbone of the economy rests and is retained on the shoulders of women who are the main producers and who make an immense contribution to the Gross National Product. The past 18 years of the NRM leadership clearly demonstrates the value and importance of legal and political support for vulnerable groups. Through affirmative action for women and vulnerable groups, the public and political interventions, programmes, policies and debates have benefited from the wealth and diversity of hitherto non-participating groups of citizens in the country.

§ There are factors that still disproportionately impact on women and girls - Despite their numerical strength, women continue to be disadvantaged in many facets of their lives. There is a genuine concern therefore that issues related to social service delivery, corruption, living standards, health, HIV/AIDS, life expectancy for expectant mothers, low levels of education for women, gender equality and conflict resolution continue to have a disproportionate impact on especially women and girls. The Women’s Agenda attempts to present a gender analysis and makes recommendations thus providing alternatives that would lead to the empowerment of women and girls.

The Uganda Women’s agenda is a political document that defines the key areas that the women’s movement will prioritise over the next 5 years. It sets out critical issues of concern to women across age, livelihood, religious affiliation, political ideology and makes demands for addressing them. It is a direct result of concern about the insufficient attention given to critical issues affecting women which have not significantly changed over the years.

Women as full and meaningful citizens of Uganda have the right, responsibility and obligation to be part of shaping their future and to contribute to the critical ongoing debate and processes in the country.

We are optimistic that through this agenda, the critical stakeholders will pay attention to the voices of women so as to ensure an improvement of the lives of the women of Uganda

Enjoy the Women’s Agenda 2010 and be part of our journey up to 2016.

Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE)


WE, THE WOMEN OF UGANDA being full and equal citizens of Uganda, living, working and residing in Uganda, as well as elsewhere;

GUIDED in the spirit of sisterhood, by a common agenda for the promotion of the rights of women as fundamental, non- negotiable and inherent human rights and having collectively participated in a series of consultative processes at the national and regional levels, in the quest for a Women’s Agenda for the next five years;

RECOGNISING that, Ugandan women are not homogenous being from various: backgrounds, social-economic classes, ages, groups, occupations, livelihoods, religious affiliations, ethnicities and political ideologies and that despite these rich diversities, women hold a shared commitment to a transformative agenda;

ACKNOWLEDGING the commendable measures the Government of Uganda, Civil Society Organizations, Development Partners and Political Parties have taken to promote the rights of women as well as their participation in politics and leadership. Further commending the courageous and tenacious women leaders and politicians, past and present, for daring to beat the path of emancipation, to ensure their daughters see a better day;
CONCERNED that while the status of women has advanced significantly in the last 25 years, progress has been uneven, gender inequalities have persisted and major obstacles to the advancement of women still remain. Further recognising that the struggle of advocating for women’s rights is political and as such, the need to use political means to question the legitimacy of the structures that keep women subjugated;

DEEPLY CONCERNED that despite the promulgation of the Constitution and the signing and ratification of various regional and international instruments, the passage of enabling laws and the domestication of instruments, is still wanting and as such the minimum principles and standards underlying women’s rights, have continuously been re - negotiated downwards, in the name of culture, religion and morality and pursuance of containment;
CLAIMING and asserting our right to champion the women’s movement in Uganda: owning our views, voices, histories and experiences, while further advancing the right to celebrate the long and rich tradition of the Ugandan Women’s struggle against patriarchy and our efforts to liberate women and girls;

NOW, WE THE WOMEN OF UGANDA, embrace our right and duty to play a pivotal role in shaping our nation’s destiny by elaborating the Women’s Agenda 2010 -2016 within ELEVEN MAJOR THEMATIC PILLARS AS THUS:
I. Democracy and political governance

II. Economic empowerment

III. Human rights and the law

IV. Health

V. Education

VI. Environment

VII. Information Communication and Technology

VIII. Women with special needs

IX. Peace, human security and dignity

X. Institutional mechanisms for the achievement of gender equality

XI. Uganda in regional and international contexts

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