By Ambassador Henry Mayega
Attempts by Uganda’s metropolitan elite to down-play the astronomical achievements of women folk during the Yoweri Museveni administration are at worst laughable; nationals know that such de-calibration is the hand-work of hair-brained dregs in our midst whose pre-occupation it is to reverse them by the stroke of verbosity.
A daily of March 8, 2020, doubly the women’s day, carried a view point on its page ten in which the benighted author, Harrold Achemah, blindly said the women folk had achieved nothing in the last three decades and continued to gormlessly argue thus: “…after 34 years of misrule, the corrupt and … ruling clique believes that it can fool all Ugandans all the time” in apparent reference to this administration. The expanded political space since the plebiscite of 2005 is partly the reason why people elect to misrepresent the truth, Achemah inclusive. And it is my humble duty to craft this rejoinder.
First, both Uganda’s women folk and voters can’t believe such nefarious and witless arguments because nationals without jaundiced eyes know what the status of that gender was before 1986 and where it is now. Women, earlier and exclusively, belonged to the kitchen and inherited nothing after the demise of their spouses; in fact they themselves were, in a primitive practice, inherited by the male siblings of their departed spouses with or without the widows’ consent.
Through unprecedented and deliberate government interventions, women are now occupying more and bigger public offices moreover at equal pay as men; something that even eludes the western world currently. Has that author heard of this? And to fully appreciate the impact of this administration’s interventions to spur gender parity in Uganda, forget about the rough-hewn shenanigans of detractors, uplifting of Uganda’s women has seen them over the last three decades produce, for the first time, a vice president (Specioza Kazibwe), a speaker (Rebecca Kadaga), deputy chief justice (Laeticia Kikonyogo) etc.
And that’s not without a background; stories are abound regarding women taking part in the revolution that ushered in the Yoweri Museveni administration in 1986; that participatory putsch brought them to the decision making table, ended both the rampant raping of women by gun wielding security personnel, extra-judicial killings as well as widowing many of them because of the incessant insecurities that dogged Uganda for decades. Women, as a result, have been net beneficiaries of the peace, security and stability heralded by the Yoweri Museveni administration.
Secondly, those with a cognitive deficit have refuted these advancements on the basis of deep-seated hatred for this administration not because of substance in their arguments; that thoughtless approach leads them into comedy that is precisely the sort of incendiary diversion that in their view thwarts serious and truthful debate and reinforces the belief among the women gender that our gilded elite are out of touch with the reality.
They roam Uganda’s media houses spewing out inaccuracies and attempting, failingly, to delete those achievements inscribed indelibly in the hearts of Uganda’s women. That is the opposition’s Waterloo precisely because their deleterious actions accentuate women’s view that the former’s antithesis is aggressively hostile to enhanced gender parity.
Thirdly and clearly, a cursory look at additional accomplishments registered in the last three decades shows a sterling performance in creating gender parity and equity: according 1.5 points to girls on admission to public universities in the early 1990s increased their access and massification of higher education to the women folk, the establishment of women councils and providing for a slot on LC structures for them politically empowered women for the first time in large numbers and their voice was enhanced as a result, the political parties and organization’s act provides for at least 30% representation of women on party executives plus the provision by law for district women MPs all put together elevated the women folk a notch higher.
Elsewhere, unlike during previous regimes including colonial ones, this administration has committed to: promoting gender equality and empowerment by adopting the international convention on elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and enacting laws to promote women’s human rights. For example the national women’s council act (1993), the prohibition of female genital mutilation act(2010) and the local government act that establishes a democratic, political and gender sensitive environment in local governments.
The aggregation of all these steps and many others not mentioned here, for luck of space, has resulted into the astronomical gender balance and equity.
Ambassador Henry Mayega
Deputy Head of Mission
Uganda Embassy, Beijing, China