Written by SAMUEL MUHINDO.
Female Parliamentarians have decried the growing financial burden of constituents on their purses. These concerns were raised at a 3-day retreat organized by the Forum for Women in Democracy for the first-time female MPs under their Strengthening Citizen’s Engagement in Elections (SCENE) programme held at Lake Victoria Hotel Entebbe.
The MPs say whereas some of their colleagues are re-elected without becoming charitable to their constituents, they are forced to contribute the larger portion of their purse to the constituents to buy their way back to Parliament in the next polls.
They asked that instead of using their own money, FOWODE helps them connect with organizations that can donate towards their different activities.
Speaking on the sidelines of the training, Kassanda District Woman MP Flavia Kalule says there should be constant sensitization of the voters about the role of Parliamentarians since they are not in charge of direct service delivery.
“What we can do within our power is to lobby private partners and government to fill the service delivery gaps within their constituencies…” said Kalule.
Elizabeth Ampaire, the programmes director of FOWODE says the retreat was organized specifically targeting first-time female parliamentarians to conscientize them about the true roles of a Member of Parliament.
She adds that after the retreat, the female parliamentarians shall be able to nurture a value-driven and transformative leadership, and also encourages them to establish a safe space for sisterhood and solidarity for sustained engagement.
Ampaire says they appreciate the highly commercialized nature of Uganda’s politics where some women leaders have been forced to become more charitable yet their purses cannot fulfill the demands of the community.
“…as FOWODE, we acknowledge that our female legislators face this challenge and we also appreciate that constituents are poor. We want them to acknowledge their roles as legislators. We are helping them realize that the needs of the constituency are insatiable. Let them focus on legislation…” said Ampaire.
Ampaire adds that for legislators to succeed in their roles, they should build networks amongst themselves and also strengthen partnerships with different civil society organisations in line with the interests of their constituencies.
“…these CSO’s already have necessary information that the MPs need. Let the MPs go to these CSO’s and the media shall then help them to build their brand as a good representative for the interests of the people…” says Ampaire.
Solome Nakaweesi, the lead facilitator, requested women to assert themselves in their positions as leaders of the people. She requested the female parliamentarians to indulge themselves in collectively handling societal issues as it is the best means of dealing with society.
She adds that instead of female parliamentarians having political power, they should go an extra mile of getting economic power which shall grant them more independence while making decisions. She added that the parliamentarians should read through the feminist charter and report so that they can see what speaks to their leadership as parliamentarians. “…as leaders, you should deliberately walk the journey of working on yourselves. We need leaders that will commit to something and then work upon it…”
Speaking at the same event, Prof Josephine Ahikire requested that society deals with the barriers to gender equality. She said that a levelled playing field for all helps to ensure a better society that shall be favourable for all.