Source: All Africa
The hullabaloo about councillors with challenges in taking oaths of office in English reminds me of Mr Adeel, a technician I met in Khartoum 29 years ago.
I once found him preparing for a trip outside Sudan whereupon he gregariously declared, "I go in Cairo and I back again, inshallah," he said, meaning he was going to Cairo and would return God willing. Paltry English notwithstanding, Adeel was an extremely skilled electronics technician, verifying the hypothesis that there is no correlation between efficiency in technical skills and English language proficiency.
If I may paraphrase Adeel, with a Cabinet with a significant increase in the number of women ministers coupled with the appointment of a woman to the high office of Speaker of Parliament; another to take the unenviable yet important task of CEO for the capital city, the labyrinthine gender debate is back again!
Apart from true democracy, clean elections, respect for human rights and strict adherence to the rule of law, gender equality is another benchmark for good governance.
The NRM introduced affirmative action in favour of women decades ago but some people say it was intended to mobilise support and later votes for the regime. Nevertheless, the increasing number of women accessing high profile jobs previously the preserve of men and those entering politics is a good thing and defeating men in elections absolves the affirmative action policy but throws a challenge to parents to educate the girl-child.
Education serves as a vital driver of women participation in politics and as a necessary resource in enabling women to exercise ability to act by themselves in politics, in taking decisions related to theirs and their children's health and participating in strategies for ensuring the economic stability of the family unit.
Research findings link women's education to employment and empowerment. Findings indicate that women's independent income and the level of education are directly correlated with increased qualitative nutritional intake. But women should not get contented with playing second fiddle but should aim higher as Beti Kamya did when she joined the presidential contest.
The Speaker and her powerful colleagues should take the cue from the US White House which decades ago initiated the Women's Education Fund with the message 'pipeline to the presidency' to lobby State House to do likewise.
The American fund is dedicated to enhancing public perceptions of women's leadership ability and fostering the entry of more women into competition for positions of top leadership in the US. Ugandan women should draw up plans for recruiting young women to seek high office through mentorship. This is because political parties are often selfish and could be biased against women.
Political participation and victory will be hollow if women cannot feed their families, earn a living wage, control their reproduction and live free of violence. Economic dependence on men offers little leverage in other aspects of society. Marxist-Socialist feminists advocate public policy that aims at redistributing wealth and opportunity. Considering paying a wage to women for their housework and looking after the children makes a lot of sense.
Mr Baligidde is the director of the School of Diplomacy, Governance and International Studies- Uganda Martyrs University