Is Uganda ready for a woman as president?

One needs to be objective in order to put on gender-sensitive lenses to answer such a question.
At one time the US was faced with a similar question and whether it was ready for a “Black” President.

As it were the answer to the first question was negative! To the second, it was affirmative and there are reasons why.

Suffice to observe that by 2008 less than nine per cent of the world’s Heads of State were women. Where were the women?

The role of women in conflict as perpetrators or participants in processes for ending it coupled with international, regional and academic research reveal the neglected yet obvious truth about women participation in national politics, democracy and the critical processes of conflict resolution. Despite these facts, their contribution remains unrecognised or deliberately underrated.

Ms Rebecca Kadaga and Ms Winnie Byanyima around whom debate might morph have undisputable professional integrity, wide domestic and international experience, strong courage, deep wisdom and impeccable skill in leadership and human relations.

They’ve performed well in occupations and tasks previously dominated by men.

Denying them the opportunity to go for top slots in national leadership would be a waste of talent. The current principals are President Yoweri Museveni and the NUP leader, Mr Robert Kyagulanyi, aka Bobi Wine, but should the country go into freefall and there’s a need for a government of national unity, the two women are eligible because their suitability is not based on gender equality alone.

They are more peaceful and their leadership capabilities have over time been proven to be comparable to those of men.
While attending a partnership for African social and governance research workshop held in Addis Ababa in 2018, the former President of Central Africa Republic, Madame Catherine Samba-Panza, Madame Sahle-Work Zewde who later became Ethiopia’s Head of State and former Vice President Dr Specioza Wandira Kazibwe, all under FemWise shared experiences with the roster members; as well as the gender responsive training workshop that took place in Mombasa.

It became abundantly clear to me that expectations about suitable and unsuitable roles for women have many unresolved issues including lack of inclusivity.

It is deplorable that Uganda’s domestic and foreign policies are sometimes legitimated through perceptions skewed to masculinity.

Women can practice realism just as well as men. Didn’t Golda Meir, Indira Gandhi, Corazon Aquino, and Benazir Bhutto effectively lead their countries just as men would have done?

One woman Margaret Thatcher led a major power during the Falklands war and won, Tansu Ciller led a war to supress Turkey’s Kurdish rebels. Violetta Chamorro pacified Nicaragua and Megawati Sukarnoputri held Indonesia together.

They played the international political game in much the same way men would’ve done and with similar results.

The scepticism about women leaders in domestic and international relations is baseless.

They understood autonomy, sovereignty and the elements of state power just as men do.

As the Mombasa forum discovered through experience-sharing, women too have engaged in anarchy and combat, risen to the highest ranks in the military and mastered the ‘cloak and dagger’ profession just as men have.

Instead of relegating them to playing second fiddle, they should be integrated into the overwhelmingly male preserves of top national leadership.

Mr Samuel Baligidde is a lecturer in Democracy, Governance and Politics of Public Policy at Uganda Martyrs University.

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