Thursday February 13 2014

Women got a raw deal in RDC changes

By Sophie Kyagulanyi

The recent reshuffle of Resident District Commissioners (RDCs) is a welcome move. Whereas the youth benefitted given there were many new young ‘faces’, the numbers of women RDCs, both substantive and deputies, are perturbing. Out of the 378 RDCs and deputy RDCs appointed, only 26 were women. This does not help the attainment of the 50:50 gender parity and misconstrues the ongoing efforts of increasing the number of women in appointive and elective decision-making positions in the country.

It is thought that the fewer the women occupying decision-making positions in the public sphere, the lesser public services will appropriately address women’s strategic and social needs. This is mainly because when there is inadequate representation of women, then the power of the few women to influence and sway policy decisions in favour of the unique gender equality and women specific needs is limited. This analogy can better be explained by the NRM approach on how it has used the power of numbers at the different government structure to its benefit.

It is commendable that the government has taken measures to promote the rights of women as well as their participation in politics and leadership. These measures include the 1995 Uganda Constitution, which guarantees gender balance and fair representation of marginalised groups on all constitutional and other bodies and affirmative action, which has steered increased women’s participation in decision-making and development process.

However, barriers still exist, and must be addressed. We thus implore the appointing authority to be more responsive to women’s needs and enhance fair representation of women and men in leadership positions.

Women make up a majority of the population engaged in small businesses and the informal sector and are thus major contributors to government revenue through direct and indirect taxes. Furthermore, women’s experiences are different from men’s experiences and thus need to be fairly represented in discussions that translate into meaningful livelihood.

Lastly, we all know that a functioning democracy cannot exist without the equal participation and representation of women and men, which enhances governance in both transitional and consolidated democracies across the world.