Women Activists Want One Male, One Female MP per District

3418 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
Women activists under the umbrella of Women's Democracy Network (WDN) are demanding that districts should be represented by one female and one male legislator as a way of promoting gender equality. WDN Executive Director Perry Aritua said that this proposal would reduce the size of Parliament from the current 375 MPs to 224 directly elected members.

Women activists are proposing an amendment of article 32 of the constitution as a review for Uganda's approach to affirmative action.

The Article empowers the State to take affirmative action in favour of groups marginalized on the basis of gender, age, disability or any other reason created by history, tradition or custom, for the purpose of redressing imbalances which exist against them.

It's on the basis of this provision that Women, Persons with Disabilities, Youths, Workers and the Army are represented in Parliament as special interest groups.

But women activists under the umbrella of Women's Democracy Network (WDN) are demanding that districts should be represented by one female and one male legislator as a way of promoting gender equality. WDN Executive Director Perry Aritua said that this proposal would reduce the size of Parliament from the current 375 MPs to 224 directly elected members.

She is optimistic that once adopted, the proposal will also reduce the cost of administration of parliament.

Perry Aritua was leading a delegation of the Women's Democracy group including Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE), Action for Development (ACFODE), Uganda Women's Network (UWONET) and the Centre for Women in Governance (CEWIGO).

They were presenting proposals for Constitutional Amendments for a gender and women's perspective on the Constitutional Amendment Bill, 2015 currently under scrutiny in the Legal and Parliamentary affairs committee.

The women activists also proposed that Article 60(1) of the Constitution be amended to provide that apart from the Chairperson of the Electoral Commission who may be male or female, the commissioners shall comprise of an equal number of women and men.

On the electoral activities, the activists proposed a new Clause 1 to Article 61 to the effect that all Electoral Commission materials formulated for civic or voter education programs should address gender stereotypes and discrimination against women.

On the appointment of members of the Electoral Commission, the Women activists proposed that members of the Electoral Commission be recruited through an open process of open applications, public hearings and scrutiny conducted by the Judicial Service Commission. Commissioners would then serve for a non-renewable seven-year term.

They further proposed that Article 31 (1) should be amended by inserting new Clauses (2) and (3) to read that females and males shall have equal rights to property and that a man and woman in a marriage shall be entitled to equal ownership, usage and disposal of property acquired during marriage. 
 
However, Shadow Attorney General Abdu Katuntu disagreed with the proposal saying that the women activists should not make relationships property oriented citing that in some regions property like land is family land.

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About the author

Olive Nakatudde
Olive Nakatudde is a URN journalist based in Kampala. Nakatudde has been a URN staff member since 2013.

Nakatudde started out in journalism in 2009 with Dembe FM radio in Kampala. In 2012, Nakatudde joined Voice of Africa as a political reporter. She has been a photographer since her journalism school days at Makerere University.

Nakatudde is interested in good governance and public policy, which she reports on intensively from the Uganda Parliament. She is a keen follower of cultural affairs in Buganda Kingdom and covers the kingdom's Lukiiko (parliament). Nakatudde also reports on education and health.