Prior to 2011 general elections of Uganda, Uganda Women’s Network (UWONET) undertook a rapid gender audit of the seven manifestoes of political parties which were due to participate in the 2011 general elections i.e. National Resistance Movement (NRM), Democratic Party (DP), Forum for Democratic Change / Inter-Party Coalition (FDC/IPC), People’s Progressive Party (PPP), Uganda Federal Alliance (UFA), Uganda People’s Congress (UPC), and People’s Democratic Party (PDP). This was part of the project “Enhancing effective and efficient participation and representation of women in leadership and decision making to contribute to a strong women’s movement and accelerated gender equality in Uganda.” supported by Dan Church Aid.
The study aimed at analyzing whether manifestoes from the seven political parties meet the needs of women and are gender responsive; highlighting progress made by the different political parties through comparison with current (2011-2016) and previous manifestos of (2006-2011). In addition to that, the critical issues the parties should have addressed as a must in their manifestoes was to promote gender equality in the next five years and develop a simple monitoring indicator for CSOs on each of the political party manifestos for longer term engagement. The analysis was carried out following the eleven thematic pillars in “Equal by right the Women’s Agenda” a publication by Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE) – a member of UWONET. The pillars are; Democracy and Governance, Economic Empowerment, Human Rights and the Law, Health, Education,Environment,Peace, Human Security and Dignity, Women Special Needs, Information and Communication Technology, Institutional Mechanisms for the achievement of gender equality.
A report entitled “Politics for a Purpose: changing the face of Uganda’s politics in 2011 and beyond” was produced and highlights among others key aspects to give opportunities for women to participate in political processes and leadership at party level. It also intended to lay a basis for monitoring the party’s implementation of the commitments to wards women’s empowerment as well as help Civil Society Organizations and other actors to influence development of gender responsive political manifestos in 2016. UWONET then embarked on the dissemination of the finding in the districts of Abim, Moroto, Katakwi and Amuria, with an aim of documenting views on issues identified in the report inform of gaps. And to devise strategies together with stakeholders on how to ensure that women concerns are in cooperated in the manifestos.
Some of the gaps identified were; adherence to gender sensitive planning, budgeting, monitoring and evaluation in all development plans and programmes, Enforcement of laws and regulations that encourage girls’ enrollment and retention in schools while addressing barriers to their education such as defilement, sexual harassment, female genital mutilation and lack of sanitary towels and increased investment in Polytechnics that cater for primary education drop outs, which the majorities are girls.
Among the strategies, it was noted that women’s concerns can be disseminated to the duty bearers through peaceful demonstrations and advocacy where women councilors and others present views to the party leaders, through the media like through radio stations, TVs and papers since the majority of the people listen to the media and read the papers as well. According to the UPC representatives in Abim district the Party conventions are held annually for the youth; women and men where amendments of the manifestos are made therefore the party leader gets to know women’s concerns through the convention.
During the meeting participants pledged to work hand in hand with other party members in order to ensure that they incorporate women issues in their manifestos and also do the implementation to have gender equality in all spheres.