By Ali Kaviri
Looking at Uganda’s population, the section of women in leadership is far lower than that of men. In terms of political representation, men occupy most of the mainstream seats in Parliament and at local council levels while most women are elected on the basis of affirmative action policy. This takes women as marginalised group of society. For instance, in 2011 general elections out of the 1,269 candidates nominated for the directly elected seats in Parliament, only 46 were women accounting for 3.62 per cent whereas the men were 1,223 accounting for 96.38per cent.
The situation at work places is not different because most top jobs are still being occupied by men due to a fixed false belief that women are incapable. In some homes, women are still seen as kitchen wives who are incapable of even managing financial resources of the home. Many cultures take women as irresponsible and a promiscuous part of society without questioning the adulterous and uncivilised behaviour of some men.
In such an environment which is highly patriarchal, many have internalised male norms and values. Influencing public policies from a gender perspective has become a daunting task for women legislators. Those who may be willing to take up leadership positions have been impoverished by the cultural wing of society that believes that women are only meant to do the production, whereas the management of the finances is left to the men.
In the above light, empowerment of young women is crucial for the achievement of social justice. They need to be empowered socially, economically and politically. There is need to increase access to information for women and young leaders to become advocates of change. An informed woman will lead to an informed society. Access to information is a powerful tool for influencing change.
Additionally, young women and men need to be mentored for social change. In addition to strengthening the capacities of women and youth in decision making and advancing issues of gender equality in the political arena, we also need to nurture feminist visions and values among young people who will come into public institutions with “a critical eye” especially on societal pressing issues such as social injustices and gender inequalities.
And more importantly, we need to begin empowering women from childhood by instilling in them concepts of leadership, emotional intelligence, critical thinking, effective interpersonal communication and public speaking among others.
It is only by infusing transformative leadership skills and knowledge as aforementioned into youth’s overall leadership through mentorship that the realisation of social change will be attained.
Ali Kaviri, firstname.lastname@example.org