Irrefutably, women in Uganda today have become more visible in politics and governance largely due to the onset of affirmative action. However, this increased visibility that is manifest in the growing number of female leaders at both local and national level is yet to translate into effective representation in the different fora, which they represent.
This can partly be attributed to the knowledge and skills gap existent among the women leaders, who are undoubtedly faced with several other challenges that negatively affect their productivity. In this regard, ACFODE conducted training workshops for local women councilors from the districts of Pader, Dokolo and Namutumba in a bid to improve and enhance their leadership capabilities.
The workshops, which were conducted under the project “Building and Amplifying Women’s Voices in Economic and Political Development” brought together 60 local female leaders from selected sub-counties in the three target districts from 22nd to 27th July 2013. The women councilors were equipped with knowledge and skills in Lobbying and Advocacy, Budgeting, Caucusing and Monitoring and Evaluation.
The forums provided a platform for experience sharing on the various processes of budgeting and monitoring of government programmes in their respective districts, and also enabled them to share best practices while undertaking lobby and advocacy initiatives. The bulk of experiences shared from the three districts clearly highlighted flaws in the system of governance and capacity development, which if left unaddressed shall continue to hinder the effectiveness of women’s political participation. Of note was the minimal involvement of the women leaders in all decision making processes, as well as limited skills among the leaders, for instance in management and lobbying.
By the end of the two days training, six (6) women caucuses had been formed, two (2) in each of the project districts of operation. The leaders pledged to use the caucuses as forums for raising, discussing and lobbying for key pressing community issues. One of the councilors from Namutumba district had this to say of the training “I now fully understand the budgeting process; formerly the technical wing hasn’t involved us women leaders in this process but with the knowledge I have gained about the budgeting process coupled with the skills in lobbying and advocacy, I can firmly say my representation is going to change.”