Going by the current political events, it’s now clear that Uganda will go to the 2016 polls without a woman presidential candidate. This raises doubts about women emancipation and its impetus to enable them participate in the politics of the land.
Uganda used the gender based electoral quotas to allow women join parliament quickly and somewhat used the slot as a training ground for the women to compete with men for political representation.
The 8th Parliament had 31% female representation and in the 9th Parliament the number slightly increased to 34.4% women MPs. It is however, important to note that the increase was as a result of the creation of new districts and not because of advancement in gender equality.
In 2006 the women who competed with men for parliamentary seats fell from 16 to 11 in 2011 and today, of the 129 women MPs, 112 represent districts as a result of affirmative action.
Meanwhile, Uganda has had only one LCV Chairperson (Ms Josephine Kasya – Kanungu district) since the inception of local councils, possibly a stark indicator that women are yet to break the barriers of competing with men for political positions.
In 2013, Ugandans thought it was about time to produce a woman president. The public started speculating about Parliamentary Speaker Rebecca Kadaga and the first Lady Janet Museveni as the influential women who could take on men in 2016.
Now the 2016 elections are beckoning and the women are a no show for the high office. They are running back into districts to compete for the women seats and not even in the open constituencies.
They seem to have failed to break the ties, but some people argue that women like Kadaga have outgrown the district woman slots and should aspire for the presidency.
Could the women’s ‘fears’ have been as result of the flawed affirmative action in Uganda where we have had an increase in women representatives at all levels but their numbers have not helped the people they represent and themselves?
The women in the Ninth Parliament have not fully agitated for issues to do with gender parity and they are instead seen appeasing the political parties they subscribe to. The actions of women in the 9th Parliament gives credence toGeraldine Ferraros’ (The first woman to be nominated as Vice President of the United States) comment that, “We’ve chosen the path to equality, don’t let them turn us around.” The women in the 9th parliament have been turned around!
The essentialist argument that women are similar and will always act and behave in support of a feminist Agenda is wrong. And there is clear evidence in the case of Uganda. The women did not support and vote for Miria Obote and Beti Kamya in 2006 and 2011 respectively when they attempted to run for presidency yet women are the majority and most committed voters in Uganda.
In 2006 Miria Obote got 57,047 votes (0.83%) while in 2011 Beti Kamya got 52,782 votes (0.66%); and the two have since withered off the political radar.
However for Kamya, in an attempt to stay relevant in the politics of Uganda, has clawed back to contest for the Lubaga North constituency seat.
That said, the big question remains: Is the Uganda society not ready to accept a woman president or the women are not ‘mature enough’ to compete with the men?
Ms Madina Bakar is a Lecturer at IUIU, Kampala Campus