This call was made during a two day training on elective legislative engagement organized by Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE) to enhance the knowledge of councilors on their roles and responsibilities after assuming office. According to the councilors, having rules of procedure in English is a disservice to them who do not understand the international language. ?Ngakarimojong council deliberations serve all; councilors and community members who attend and follow these discussions closely but have a very low level of education.? A challenge which was evident at their swearing in ceremony this year. More reason why these deliberations should be taken into consideration.
Councilors also want council proceedings to be handled in the local language to enable them debate and to ensure that all issues discussed are delivered to their electorate with consistency. The clerk to council of Napak district, Charles Lomilo said the move to translate rules of procedure into the local language is possible but only requires resources.
Thoughts: Patricia Munabi Babiiha, the Executive Director feels this translation of rules of procedure would facilitate effective engagement of councilors in view of their levels of education.
The district Vice Chairperson, who was in attendance, seconded the move by the policy makers to translate the local council rules of procedure into the local language and appealed to partners to help facilitate the process to enable councilors perform. He noted that much as the most affected are the lower local councilors at the sub-county, the district council may also need a similar approach for some councilors. Napak district Speaker once invited to give his remarks, called upon councilors to reject the assumption made by the sub county chief who said they don?t have the funds to hold council sessions as each sub county is entitled to six meetings and not two in a year. He concluded his remarks by promising to work closely with all Speakers for the smooth running of all council sessions in the entire district of Napak.
Forum for Women in Democracy conducted another Effective Legislative Engagement training for women councilors in Luweero and they asked that the government provide gender officers within the Community Development Office/Officer (CDO).
The training that was attended by 14 district councilors and 11 sub-county/town councilors looked to strengthen the capacity of the women councilors to influence policy, legislation, and decision making in local government.
There is plenty of work to be done where women?s issues and advancement of the community are concerned for the next term. We therefore strive, through repetitive trainings of this kind to have women equipped with knowledge and skills to fulfill their roles and responsibilities in every space they occupy.
During the training, the aspect of Gender was the core focus. The women councilors were helped to understand that, ?Gender is the social construct of an individual?, and that sex and gender were are different.
Whereas sex is the biological make up of an individual that differentiates men from women, gender are socially man-made roles that differentiate the same. This being understood, it was therefore important that the women understand that, for both men and women, gender is only taught/learnt and can therefore be changed or its chains and constraints broken.
The need to have gender reflected in all their work as legislators was evident as it presented them with future solutions for community issues but especially for those affecting women, children and adolescent girls. It was also evident that the mentorship and instilling of gender in men was going to be crucial. They however understood that it was not going to an easy initiation as the larger number of males in the community had clear cut lines of what a man and woman?s duties are in society.
They ended the training with a one track mind resolution to ask the government of Uganda to have a Gender Office/Officer placed within the Community Development Office (CDO) to start the process of integrating gender issues into the community. The duty of the gender officer would be to find activities to slowly but positively guide the community on gender issues with the end game to have everyone?s gender perspective respected and accepted.
They also reiterated the importance of ensuring that bye laws and ordinances are gender sensitive to accommodate issues concerning women and men alike.
It was agreed by all that the lack of information and education among community members is what escalates misunderstandings about gender to begin with. They further asked for the government to ensure that Functional Adult Literacy (FAL) is also made a priority.