In recent times, a lot of progress has been made to promote women's rights nonetheless they still do not have the same rights and opportunities as men.
For instance, the Women's Manifesto spells out the issues of concern to women such as education, land and property rights, women's leadership and health which are still violated and abused. In Uganda, the absolute poor are women receiving less pay than men for the same work done.
In light with that, ACFODE in partnership with Uganda Women's Network (UWONET), The Uganda Association of female Lawyers (FIDA), Uganda Parliamentary Women's Association (UWOPA) with support from OXFAM Uganda organized a 2 day conference in commemoration for the International Women's Day on 4th to 5th April 2016 at Hotel Africana.
The activity under the project Women's leadership aimed at sustaining women's voices in influencing the policy agenda. Newly elected women leaders of the 10th parliament, former MPs and civil society representatives were engaged in bringing forward the issues of concern to women.
In her opening remarks, Rita Aciro, the Executive Director UWONET specified the issues of interest in the conference. "We have keen interest in a number of issues one of which is "women leadership and Governance."–Rita Aciro. She also thanked all women who offered themselves to stand for leadership position at all levels of governance and urged them to make a difference in other women's lives.
Hon. Betty Amongi, the MP elect Apac district, urged the women to be actively involved in leadership. She pointed out saying, "Through affirmative we have 35% women's representation at parliament, we are 29th in the world out of 179 countries." She thus encouraged women to take up more leadership positions so as to raise the percentage to atleast 40%.
The Guest of Honor Rt. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga also encouraged women to take up more of the top positions such as the ministerial positions in government, "The journey is hard, we have to fight for every space that we have", said Hon. Kadaga.
During the conference, various issues were brought on board by the stakeholders and panel discussions were made on the role of women MPs, women leadership, women land rights, maternal health, climate justice and care work.
Participants actively discussing issues on women land rights during the conference
Dr. Twomugisha Ben, a consultant on maternal health, advocated for more emphasis on maternal health urging women MPs to prioritize the maternal health of their constituencies. The women leaders were also called upon to use their term in office to influence local, national and global spaces to put women's rights at the center. They were urged to go to parliament with an agenda. "Female MPs must go to parliament with a change agenda." -Jana Ncube, Pan African Director Oxfam.
Dr. Miria Matembe also gave a presentation on politics and family and advised the women leaders to carry themselves with integrity. "Integrity and character are core foundations of effective leadership", –Hon. Miria Matembe. She also cautioned them to balance roles in catering for the family and work.
Other issues that were brought on board included education system for the girl child, women's economic empowerment, gender & protection, labor rights & trafficking in persons. The stakeholders discussed the highlighted issues in groups and came up with strategies and commitments towards gender parity.
Actions that were therefore agreed upon at the conference included, having women leaders at top government positions such as the ministerial positions, increased health sector funding, strategic targets for the girl child education, changing status quo of ordinary women and effective resource management among others.