Speaker Rebecca Kadaga has urged countries in the Commonwealth to empower women in a bid to close the gender gap.
According to Kadaga, there is a need to change the education curriculum so that children can be trained to appreciate gender parity at a young age.
The Speaker of Parliament made the remarks while speaking at the Commonwealth Women’s Forum in London, ahead of the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
“There’s also a need for voter education so that the electorate can appreciate the need to improve the percentage women in leadership positions,” Kadaga said.
The meeting that premised on developing a framework for action against violence against women in elections, touched on to real life experiences of female political leaders from the 53 commonwealth member states including Papua New Guinea, Pakistan and Uganda among others.
Participants at the meeting noted that female legislators had been subjects of sexualization during elections, as well as victims of slander; citing the example of former 2016 USA presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
“Women in the Caribbean are confronted by party structures and their male counterparts look at the as threats,” noted Hon. Hazel Brandy Williams, the Junior Minister Nevis Island Administration in St. Kitts and Nevis.
Dame Carol Kidu, a former Member of Parliament and former Minister for Community Development in Papua New Guinea cited that women were increasingly expressing interest in engaging in politics but had low chances of winning.
During her presentation, Kadaga noted the need to address violence against women who express interest or engage in leadership and political positions.
“Some marriages have ended because partners support different political parties. There needs to be parity in homes despite the difference in political affiliations,” said Kadaga.
She added that there was a need to change the law to make political parties bear responsibility for the actions of their representatives in leadership positions, which would guide the crack of a whip on unbecoming behavior.
The session highlighted some of the Commonwealth’s latest publications which included a handbook titled ‘Gender and Inclusive Elections in Commonwealth Africa’, of which Kadaga is one of the authors.
During the course of the forum meetings, presenters noted the need to advocate for and encourage more women to vie for leadership positions, further noting that social media is a new powerful tool to promote gender parity.
“It is in all our interest that all women are involved in issues of national mediation, thus getting more women involved willingly in leadership is key,” noted Lord Tariq Ahmad of Wimbledon, Minister of state for the Commonwealth and UN, UK.
The Commonwealth Women’s Forum, alongside the Commonwealth People’s Forum and Commonwealth Youth Forum are raising issues to address challenges in the 53-member organisation that will supplement resolutions from the 2018 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London, UK.