UWONET boss Rita Aciro

A new research carried out by the Women Democracy Group, a secondary body that contains various women activist group, shows that there is increased negativity towards female candidates standing for different political positions in the country.

Speaking at the launch of the second report on Gender and Women’s participation in the 2016 General Elections at Hotel Africana in Kampala, Ms Ritah Aciro, the Executive Director of Uganda Women’s Network (UWONET) highlighted a few findings in the research.

‘’Negative attitudes towards women candidates  still persist for instance, unlike their male counterparts, they are asked about their marital status and questioned why they do not move with their husbands on the campaign trail,” Ms Aciro said.

She added that many voters still believe women should not stand on open seats as they are seen as intruders.

“These challenges are having a greater impact on their access to leadership than male counterparts evident from the number of women nominated for the open seat posts compared to that of the men,” the report states in part.

The report names other hindrances to women’s full participation in Ugandan politics citing heavy burden of work which doesn’t allow women to listen to candidates especially if rallies stretch past 5.00pm since they have to attend to their gender roles hence missing out on critical information especially from candidates who use campaign platforms for voter education. A 2014 study by UWONET shows that women spend 14hours of the day doing care work.

Other hindrances sighted in the report are the constant reports of limited amount of resources to organize rallies, giving an example of presidential candidate Maureen Kyalya, who postponed her campaigns due to lack of funds three weeks into the campaigns.

The media was also mentioned for not giving enough coverage to female candidates in all positions.

Political parties and the electoral commission were also advised to ensure equal participation of women and men in the campaigns by reducing on women candidates nomination fees and allocating them more campaign time.

The report also widely presents key issues in the electoral cycle which include legal framework for campaigns and extent to which women rights are upheld, level of access to resources for women and men candidates and measures by political parties and electoral commission to ensure equal participation of women and men.

The Women Democracy Group is comprised of primary women activist groups like Uganda Women’s Network, Forum For Women Democracy, Women’s Democracy Network,  among others.