Women’s presence in political decision-making is largely premised on the fact that women in such spaces will make a difference for women’s rights and development. Above all, women’s equal participation in governance and decision-making is not only a demand for justice, but also a necessary condition for gender equality and making sure that the present institutional culture is deconstructed to take women’s interests into account. It is prudent to integrate women’s voice in reforms, development and governance, irrespective of the deeply rooted cultural beliefs, illiteracy and other women responsibilities hindering this occurrence. Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE) has continued to register a number of women leaders at grass root levels through her numerous interventions of preparing them to ably take on the challenge; but now the drive is in higher gear with the imminent LCI and II Chairperson elections within the various sub-counties, villages and parishes.
FOWODE has joined other Women Civil Society Organizations under their umbrella coalition of Women’s Democracy Group to roll out a number of trainings for the women candidates aspiring for the LCI and II chairperson positions, on how to equip themselves with the necessary information and legal tools in the legal framework as they campaign within their respective sub-counties. The exercise, which is being carried out in partnership with UNWOMEN, is intended to push the candidates forward assertively and boldly as they tussle it out with their male counterparts.
In Lyantonde District, 60 participants from six sub- counties of Lyantonde, Kinuuka, Mpumudde, Lyakajjula, Kaliiro, Kasagama and Lyantonde Town Council were trained. They were equipped with the knowledge and skills on how to win the forth coming LCI and II elections.
Presiding over the ceremony, the District Council of Lyakajjula Sub-County and Secretary Education and Health Services, Hon. Alfred Mutebi, appreciated FOWODE’s effort in supporting women in leadership which is highly noticeable in the district. He specifically recognized the increase in women empowerment in the region. “I urge you to break all barriers brought about by cultural beliefs and show the world that you can exercise leadership as much or even better than us the men”, said Hon. Mutebi. He also appealed to the aspiring candidates to always exercise transparency and accountability in their endevors of winning elections and called upon FOWODE to continue empowering women in all spaces of leadership.
Out of the 60 women candidates trained in the Lyantonde district 47 had never undergone any WDG trainings; but, 13 women had been trained under other FOWODE organized trainings. These testified that the motivation to contest was being drawn from the civic education meetings convened in their subcounties by FOWODE. Through these meetings, the candidates were able to decipher and understand the critical roles which women play in leadership, and especially how to guard against discrimination during the electoral processes.
Alice Bigombe aged 47 from Kanara ‘B’ Mpumudde sub-county said, “I want to extend my sincere gratitude to FOWODE and other women organizations that planned this training. Most of the women still believe that the position of the chairperson can only be commanded by a man. This made us opt for other lower posts and shunned the bigger ones because we had very low esteem in our leadership acumen. However, in my 15 years work as the Vice Chairperson, I have come to believe that I can take on the mantle of being a full Chairperson, after all I was doing most of the work of the current chairman. I am therefore compelled to contest for the position of Chairperson because I am confident that with the knowledge and skills acquired in this training as well as the experience I have gained, I will execute the work diligently and ably”.
Namuli Hanifah aged 49 from Kaliiro Lyantonde Town Council who is contesting for the position of Chairperson LC II Kaliiro had this to say “I want to appreciate the opportunity given to us today by FOWODE because by the end of this training I will be a full candidate ready to move and campaign. I really feel it’s high time also women took up leadership roles because we are all equal by right; but men still discriminate against us basing on our gender roles and sex. I have come up to contest on the position of chairperson LC2 and if am still alive I want to scale to the level of chairperson LC111 in 2021 to show people that also women are capable of leading irrespective of the roles and responsibilities women have. I will use the knowledge and skills I will gain from the training to keep me moving ahead and mentoring other women to take up leadership positions.”
Kobuyangi Margret aged 60 from Bikokora (B), Mpumudde parish, Mpumudde sub county appreciated the training, “I have been the LC I chairperson for 25 years but for all these years I knew nothing about the legal framework not even a single article in the constitution, I was leading my community in total darkness following things with no basis but only the guidance from other leaders. It is today that I have got the information of what am supposed to do when in the office and how to handle community issues referring to the constitution of the republic. Now since I have learnt and got the new knowledge and skills on how to run a successful campaign I will fully be accountable to people quoting from the law. Long live FOWODE”.
Tushemerirwe Clemesia aged 49 from Lyantonde sub county, “I had lost morale of contesting again thinking that I was rendering services without gaining anything not even a vote of thanks, but from this training I gained more energy to continue serving my community as a responsible citizen and mentor my fellow women who will replace me because from this training I believe I will win the elections again because of the trust community members have in me. The skills which I have got today will help me to win my opponents as I will be more assertive than before”.