REVIEW OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION IN UGANDA - Women of Uganda Network by decree

VIEWS: 7 PAGES: 16

									REVIEW OF AFFIRMATIVE ACTION IN UGANDA




                   By

            Elizabeth Kharono




            Kampala, July 2003
ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

The issues arising out of this review were as important to me as they are to the many
individuals and organisations concerned about gender equality and the empowerment
of women who I met in the course of undertaking it. I would, therefore, like to start by
thanking UWONET for thinking of undertaking this important review and giving me
the opportunity to do it on their behalf. I would like to thank Jackie and her team at
UWONET, for their support in juggling appointments and ensuring that I was able to
meet everybody who could be met in the time available.

Many people had to make time for me out of their very busy schedules, often at very
short notice. I would like to thank each one of them for sharing their views freely and
making the time. I would like to record a special word of thanks to the women
councillors of Makindye Division who agreed to meet me at very short notice and at a
time when they were in the middle of doing council business.

I hope that all the people I met find in this final product their collective views that
they are able to identify with, even though I take full responsibility for the analysis
contained in the report.

Elizabeth Kharono
Kampala, July 2003




Critical Review of Affirmative Action in Uganda: Report by Elizabeth Kharono              2
ACRONYMS
CA                       Constituent Assembly
CRC                      Constitutional Review Commission
CSO                      Civil Society Organisation
EOC                      Equal Opportunities Commission
LC                       Local Council
MoGLSD                   Ministry of Gender Labour and Social Development
MoLG                     Ministry of Local Government
MP                       Member of Parliament
NGO                      Non-Governmental Organisation
NRA                      National Resistance Army
NRM                      National Resistance Movement
PWD                      People with Disability
RC                       Resistance Council
UWONET                   Uganda Women's Network




Critical Review of Affirmative Action in Uganda: Report by Elizabeth Kharono   3
1. Introduction
Implementation of affirmative action in political decision making in its present form
in Uganda is closely associated with the coming to power of the NRM government in
1986. From the initial steps taken to have special district seats for women in the NRC
and mandatory positions for women at the different levels of the 9-member RCs, these
provisions were consolidated in the 1995 Constitution. The Local Government Act
(1997) has operationalised aspects of the provisions for affirmative action dealing
with representation of marginalised groups in local government structures.
Implementation of affirmative action has resulted in a marked increase in the number
of marginalised groups (women, people with disabilities, youth, and workers) in
politics and decision making thereby changing the landscape of politics and decision
making in Uganda.
Although affirmative action has resulted in increased numbers of all marginalised
groups in decision-making processes and politics, women are the most visible
beneficiaries of the policy. Increased visibility and effectiveness of women in politics
and decision making have challenged widespread patriarchal beliefs and practices,
which have in the past excluded women from such positions. It is for this reason that
affirmative action, in general, and women’s representation in political decision
making in particular, have attracted the greatest controversy and even resistance.
Recent submissions to the CRC recommending that affirmative action for women in
politics and decision making be scrapped as it has served its purpose demonstrate this
resistance and backlash. Openly expressed views against affirmative action have
prompted fears that the gains women made in the 1995 constitution might be lost in
the on-going constitutional review process. “Losses” of cabinet positions held by
women as a result of the recent cabinet reshuffle have done little to allay these fears.
It was in an effort to address these fears and to articulate a clearer basis for affirmative
action that UWONET commissioned this review.

1.1      Objectives
This review set out to establish the extent to which affirmative action is a secure
policy for addressing gender imbalance generally, and increasing women’s
participation in politics and decision making, specifically. The review sought to
critically analyse the policy of affirmative action in Uganda, examine its
implementation arrangements and assess its effectiveness in addressing the
marginalisation of women in decision making and politics. The review focused on the
following key issues:

           determining whether there is a specific policy document on affirmative
            action, and, if there is, what its contents are;

           determining what the institutional arrangements for the implementation,
            monitoring and evaluation of affirmative action are, and whether the
            policy has a budget, targets and performance indicators;

           generating ideas to support and strengthen UWONET’s lobby and
            advocacy work on affirmative action; and


Critical Review of Affirmative Action in Uganda: Report by Elizabeth Kharono              4
           proposing a general policy and institutional framework for affirmative
            action in Uganda.

1.2     Scope of Work
Affirmative action as provided for in the Constitution has a wide application and
assessing its implementation not only requires looking at sectors other than politics
and decision making, but also other marginalised groups apart from women. The
scope of this review is limited to women as a category of marginalised groups and
specifically to women in politics and decision making, within the framework of
Parliament and Local Councils. The findings of this review, however, confirm that the
position of women is not radically different from the position of other marginalised
groups, and thus the issues raised here have relevance to other contexts in which the
policy of affirmative action has been applied. It is, therefore, hoped that this review
will serve as a starting point for a more extensive assessment of affirmative action as
a policy and its implementation in Uganda.
This review has confirmed the limited awareness, even among proponents of
affirmative action, about the policy, how it was conceived, what it set out to achieve,
and who is supposed to be responsible for its implementation. To address this lack of
awareness, the review focused on generating information intended to increase
awareness and ownership of affirmative action, as well as information about its status,
achievements and constraints. In this way the findings of the review shall inform
ongoing processes of relevance to affirmative action, including the constitutional
review process, the impending review of representation of marginalised groups under
affirmative action, and the ongoing efforts to realise the setting up of the EOC.
Given the limited time and resources available for the review, consultations with key
stakeholders was limited to individuals and organisations within Kampala considered
to be familiar with the origins, evolution and implementation of affirmative action. In
addition, the extent and range of legal and policy documents and literature reviewed
was limited to those considered to have a direct bearing on affirmative action for
women in politics and decision making.

1.3     Methodology
The review was undertaken through an examination of a range of national legal and
policy documents and related literature on women in politics and affirmative action in
Uganda. In addition, key informants were interviewed. These included women
Parliamentarians and Councillors (Local Council III and Women’s Council),
representatives of CSO/NGOs, researchers and academicians, and officials of the
Ministries of Local Government and Gender, Labour and Social Development, and
members of the NRM Secretariat.
Two meetings were organised to receive and provide feedback on findings. The first
meeting was organised for members of UWONET where preliminary findings were
presented and feedback received. The second meeting was a half-day stakeholders’
workshop during which findings of the review were presented. The workshop was
also used to define and agree on immediate follow-up activities, which included
developing a strategy for linking up with, and supporting, the CRC process.




Critical Review of Affirmative Action in Uganda: Report by Elizabeth Kharono          5
2. Findings of the review
The overall findings of this review are that there is no single policy document or
legislation on affirmative action, and little progress has been made to establish the
EOC, which was mandated by the Constitution to give effect to its provisions1.
Despite the absence of an overall policy and legal framework and an institutional
mechanism with requisite resources for implementation, some progress has been
made in implementing affirmative action. This progress has been made possible by
the fact that affirmative action was provided for in the Constitution. The Local
Government Act drew on the authority of the Constitution to effect provisions for
affirmative action in representation of women and other marginalised groups at all
levels of the local government structures.

2.1     Legal and policy framework for affirmative action in Uganda
2.1.1 The Constitution
Article 32 (1) of the Constitution spells out the core elements of affirmative action in
Uganda. It states that “…Notwithstanding anything in this Constitution, the state
shall take affirmative action in favour of groups marginalised on the basis of
gender, age, disability or any other reason created by history, tradition, or custom
for the purpose of redressing imbalances which exist against them..” This provision
commits the state to taking affirmative action in favour of groups discriminated
against on the basis of gender, age, disability or any other reason created by history,
tradition or custom. It also indicates that the intention of taking affirmative action is to
redress (the) imbalances which exist against marginalised groups.
The Constitution commits the state to empower and encourage the active participation
of all citizens at all levels of their governance2. To this end, all people of Uganda shall
have access to leadership positions at all levels3, and the composition of government
shall be broadly representative of the national character and social diversity of the
country4. The Constitution further commits the state to ensure gender balance and fair
representation of all marginalised groups on all constitutional and other bodies5 and
due recognition of the significant role of women in society6. These principles and
commitments of the state create a basis for the policy of affirmative action in favour
of women.
Affirmative action for marginalised groups in general is reinforced by recognition of
the fundamental rights of women in Article 33 of the Constitution. Apart from the
right to be accorded full and equal dignity of the person with men7, including the right
to equal opportunities in political, economic and social activities8, the article also re-
states the right of women as a group to affirmative action for “..purposes of


1
  There are growing fears that the EOC may never be established as the government is likely to use the
excuse of reducing on public expenditure to “merge” it even before it comes into existence!
2
  Democratic Principle (i) of the National Objectives and Directive Principles of State in the
Constitution of Uganda.
3
  Democratic Principle (ii)
4
  Democratic Principle (iii)
5
  Directive Principle VI on Gender balance and fair representation of marginalised groups
6
  Directive Principle XV on Recognition of role of women in society
7
  Art. 33 (1)
8
  Art. 33 (4)
Critical Review of Affirmative Action in Uganda: Report by Elizabeth Kharono                          6
redressing the imbalances created by history, tradition or custom”9. It enjoins the
state to provide facilities and opportunities for enhancing the welfare of women and to
enable them realise their full potential10, and to protect their rights "taking into
account their unique status and natural maternal functions in society"11.
The way provisions for affirmative action in the constitution are stated indicates that
affirmative action was intended to address structural causes of marginalisation based
on gender, age, and disability. As the causes of marginalisation are various, it is
important to understand that they go beyond the political arena. The intention to
redress imbalances caused by “history, tradition or custom” implies that the
affirmative action enterprise is long-term as these imbalances can only be righted
through long-term processes (qualitative and quantitative) of social transformation.
Representation of women and marginalised groups in Parliament and on local
government councils is a short-term measure to increase their numbers in political
decision making structures at the national and local level. These measures provide for
a woman representative for every district in Parliament and the reservation of one-
third of the seats on each local council for women. These provisions are to be
reviewed after a period of ten years from the coming into effect of the 1995
Constitution, and, thereafter, every five years “for the purpose of retaining,
increasing or abolishing such representation12”

2.1.2 The Local Government Act (1997)
The Local Government Act operationalises the constitutional provisions for
affirmative action by providing for one-third of the seats on each local council to be
reserved for women. The Act also provides for affirmative action with respect to other
marginalised groups (people with disabilities, youth, the aged, etc) in the composition
of local councils. These provisions have resulted in a significant increase in the
number of women in political decision making at the different levels of the local
government (i.e., district councils, sub-county councils, city division councils,
municipal councils, municipal division councils and town councils).
Increased representation of women in decision making structures of local government
is especially significant in the context of decentralisation as substantial powers have
been devolved to lower levels of government where policies, budgets and
development plans are made. This means that at the LC III level, which is the lowest
governance structure for planning and budgeting, at least one third of the councillors
in the 954 sub-county, town, and municipal councils are women. This number is
further boosted by women representatives of youth, people with disabilities and the
elderly and women councillors elected or nominated on the “non-affirmative” tickets.

2.1.3 National Women's Councils
National Women's Councils predated the affirmative action provisions of the
Constitution. Their origins may be traced to the Resistance Councils of the
NRA/NRM. They were first established under the National Women's Council Statute,
199313, which has since been amended by the National Women's Council
9
  Art. 33 (5)
10
   Art. 33 (2)
11
   Art. 33 (3)
12
   Art. 78 (2) and 180 (2) (d)
13
   Statute No. 3 of 1993
Critical Review of Affirmative Action in Uganda: Report by Elizabeth Kharono              7
(Amendment) Act, 200214. The purpose of the statute is to provide for the
establishment of a National Women's Council and, its composition, functions, objects
and powers. It provides for Women's Councils from village to national level, with the
Village Women's Council at the bottom and the National Women's Council at the
apex.
The National Women's Council is composed of the chairpersons of the District
Women's Councils, a representative of women with disabilities, three women
representatives of NGOs involved in women's affairs, a representative of the ministry
responsible for gender and women advancement, the secretary for female youth on the
National Youth Executive Committee, a representative of women Parliamentarians,
and the Executive Secretary of the National Women's Council15. The last five
members are ex-officio and have no voting rights16. The same categories of women's
interests are represented at the district and sub-county levels.
The affairs of the Council are managed by an Executive Committee, the composition
of which is spelt out in Section 9 as amended. A representative of the MoGLSD sits
on the Committee.
The objects of the National Women's Council are spelt out in section 4 of the Act as:
        a) to organise the women of Uganda in a unified body, and
        b) to engage the women in activities that are of benefit to them and the
           nation.
There is a sense in which the women's councils can be considered to have been the
forerunners of affirmative action in favour of women in Uganda. It is these councils
and the prominent role that they gave women following the establishment of the NRM
government that provided the impetus that made affirmative action a major issue in
the constitution making process. Among the functions of the councils is "to
encourage the women to consolidate their role in national development in the
political, economic, social, cultural and educational fields"17.

2.2     Institutional Arrangements for Affirmative Action
Article 32 (2) of the constitution provides that Parliament shall make laws, "including
laws for the establishment of an Equal Opportunities Commission" in order to give
effect to the affirmative action provision. This implies that the institutional
mechanism for the implementation, monitoring and evaluation of affirmative action is
the EOC. The same Article anticipates the passing of legislation to establish and
operationalise the EOC.
Nine years since the coming into effect of the 1995 Constitution, the EOC has not
been established and the law to operationalise it has not been passed. As a result, little
progress has been made in interpreting the constitutional provisions for affirmative
action. Where the provisions have been implemented, the process has been mostly ad
hoc. Even where progress has been registered, assessing the extent of its success and
impact are difficult as no clear targets and performance indicators have been put in
place. In the circumstances, it is not surprising that affirmative action, in general, and

14
   Act No. 19 of 2002
15
   Section 5 (1) as amended by the National Women's Council (Amendment) Act
16
   Section 5 (2)
17
   Section 4 (2) (d)
Critical Review of Affirmative Action in Uganda: Report by Elizabeth Kharono             8
women’s representation at national and local government, in particular, have been
dogged by confusion, duplication and lack of clarity over mandates and roles.
Confusion about women’s representation both at the national level and at the local
government level has persisted over the years. At the national level, confusion over
the woman as opposed to women’s representative and whether they represent women
or everybody in the district has never been resolved. The mandate of the woman
district MP versus the sub-county based MPs also persists. This confusion is further
complicated by the even more unclear role and mandate of the women in the
Women’s Councils. This parallel structure of elected representatives from the village
level up to the national level, is vaguely defined to be a-political, but its role vis-à-vis
that of the women representatives who get onto the local councils structure on the
ticket of affirmative action is very unclear. This lack of clarity about mandate, role
and constituency makes the policy of affirmative action susceptible to abuse,
clientilism and political manipulation.
The Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development is the government
machinery responsible for setting up the EOC. The Ministry planned to operationalise
the national machinery for affirmative action in its National Action Plan on Women
(1999/2000 – 2003/2004). For various reasons, including lack of adequate resources,
the Ministry has made little progress in achieving the targets it set for itself in the
Action Plan on Women, generally, and setting up of the EOC, specifically. This
ministry, whose mandate covers virtually all marginalised social groups, is in reality
the least funded and continues to operate with a severely limited budget. Thus it is
hardly surprising that the setting up of the EOC has continued to compete for the
meagre resources allocated to the ministry and lost to other priorities.
Despite the central role it is supposed to play in setting up the EOC, the Ministry
cannot be held accountable for the policy as this is supposed to be the mandate of the
EOC, which is meant to be an autonomous body. Women’s Councils are also
supposed to be autonomous bodies similar to Youth Councils and Children’s
Councils. The institutional divide between the MoGLSD, under which Women’s
Councils currently fall, and the MoLG under which women councillors on affirmative
action fall makes it difficult for the two sets of women representatives to have a
common and effective agenda. This institutional confusion makes it difficult to
determine what is supposed to be achieved through increased representation of
women in governance structures and whether it is being achieved.

2.3      Achievements of affirmative action
Despite the many challenges associated with affirmative action, it has registered a
number of achievements in promoting women’s participation in politics and decision
making. Affirmative action is the single means of entry into politics and decision
making which has resulted in the most significant increase in the number of women
representatives. Table 1 below on the different modes of entry into the national
legislature confirms that the provision for district women representatives brought into
Parliament more women representatives than all the other modes of entry combined.
It also shows that, even though the number of women representatives elected on open
seats has increased over time, this increase is not as significant as that achieved
through affirmative action.



Critical Review of Affirmative Action in Uganda: Report by Elizabeth Kharono               9
                                                                                   Table 1
                        AA       OS         Y       PWD          W          N/ExO Other
 NRC                    39        2         4         -           -           3      2
 CA                     39        8         -         -          1            2      -
 6th Parliament         39        8         -         2           -           1      1
 7th
     Parliament         56        13        2         2          1            1      -
AA= Affirmative Action OS= Open Seat Y= Youth PWD= People with Disability W= Workers
N/ExO= Nominated or Ex-Official Other: Historical (NRC) and army (6th parliament)
Affirmative action has, therefore, rightly been credited with having been responsible
for enabling a larger number of women to enter the Legislature than ever before in
Uganda’s history. Before 1986, the total number of women in Parliament never
exceeded four18. Table 2 shows the number of female MPs as compared to male MPs
in successive Parliaments in Uganda since 1989.
                                                                                     Table 2
                            Female MPs                Male MPs           Total number of MPs
NRC                             50                      230                      280
CA                              50                      236                      286
6th Parliament                  51                      219                      270
7th Parliament                  75                      230                      305

These figures indicate that from an insignificant number of women in the national
legislature, because of affirmative action, the number rose to 18%, 17%, 19% and
25% in the NRC (1989 – 96), CA (1994), 6th Parliament (1996 – 2001) and the 7th
Parliament (2001 – 2004), respectively. Representation of women in local government
structures has also been significantly increased as a result of affirmative action. This
representation is particularly important at LC III level, where planning, budgeting and
allocation of resources is done on the basis of felt needs and priorities at the local
level.
The above progress confirms the widely acknowledged view that the main
achievement of affirmative action is the increased level of representation and
participation of women in politics and decision making both at the national and local
level. Increased numbers of women in politics and decision making has enhanced
their visibility in public office, legitimised their presence in areas previously
considered to be male domain, and de-mystified some of the public offices such as
that of the Vice President. Women in politics and decision making at all levels have
provided role models for other women, with the result that more women today are
willing to stand for political positions than was the case before affirmative action was
introduced19.
The achievements of affirmative action are not purely quantitative, however. There
are undeniable qualitative changes as well. Even though patriarchal attitudes and
practices have by no means been eliminated, it is evident throughout the country that
there is increased awareness and broad acceptance of women as leaders. Affirmative
action has contributed to making the political landscape in Uganda richer and more
diverse. Increased participation of women in politics and decision making has also
greatly increased their skills and self-confidence and built their capacity as legislators
and leaders. This increased capacity has become evident in Parliament by the number
of women who are currently chairperson or vice-chairpersons of different
Parliamentary Committees. It is also reflected in the increasing capacity of women in
18
  See Tamale, S. When Hens Begin to Crow – Gender and Parliamentary Politics in Uganda, 1999
19
  This view was expressed by the women councillors I interviewed at Makindye.
Critical Review of Affirmative Action in Uganda: Report by Elizabeth Kharono                 10
Parliament to promote gender-responsiveness of government and other national level
players.

2.4 Constraints to affirmative action
One of the major weaknesses of affirmative action arises from the weak sense of
ownership of its provisions among the broad spectrum of the women of Uganda who
are its main beneficiaries and stakeholders. This weak sense of ownership is
surprising when one remembers the tremendous effort women put into shaping the
1995 Constitution20. It is clear that the momentum and remarkable unity of purpose
and effort by women, which was depicted during the CA process and which resulted
in the positive impact on the constitution-making process was not sustained after the
passing of the Constitution. The assumption that the state/government would live up
to its constitutional obligations without a coherent strategy for ensuring that this
happens confirms this failure on the part of women. As a result women as
beneficiaries of this provision have done little to shape its interpretation, monitor its
implementation and ensure that its provisions are enforced.
The weak sense of ownership of affirmative action among women and their various
organisations and networks has contributed to the continued perception that
affirmative action is a gift from the NRM government rather than a right. That this
perception persists notwithstanding the constitutional provisions illustrates the failure
of its proponents to own, engage and define its content and develop a coherent and
strategic agenda on its implementation. Given this failure it is not surprising that a
large number of women beneficiaries of affirmative action, not only feel obliged to
the NRM government, but also dare not challenge the status quo. They find it easier to
fit into, rather than transform systems cultures and structures that have marginalised
them, which is the intended purpose of providing for affirmative action in the
constitution.
However, despite this inadequate engagement with the provision for affirmative
action by its main stakeholders, the state has an obligation to all its citizens, including
women. On this score, the state has been remarkably slow in putting in place the
necessary statutory and policy formulations to operationalise affirmative action.
Absence of an implementation framework informed by appropriate policy, law and
institution is a major weakness of affirmative action. This means that the policy has
no institutional home, a fact that has led to considerable institutional confusion that
has in turn hindered the development of the discourse on affirmative action, with the
result that it is not possible to state its substantive content.
Article 32 (2) of the constitution anticipated the passing of laws to operationalise
affirmative action. The law anticipated by this Article would, among other things, set
up the institutional framework for implementing affirmative action, spell out the
procedure for establishing the EOC and set out its mandate and operational
procedures. Failure to pass the operational legislation and to establish the EOC has
clearly hampered the successful implementation of affirmative action21.


20
   Matembe, M., 2002. Gender, Politics and Constitution Making in Uganda. Kampala: Fountain
Publishers
21
   This is technically speaking. This explanation has been questioned by a number of women who
observe that where there has been political will, Commissions have been set up before the requisite
substantive law has been put in place. They argue that the same could have happened in setting up the
EOC had there been sufficient political will.
Critical Review of Affirmative Action in Uganda: Report by Elizabeth Kharono                        11
Placing responsibility for setting up the EOC in the Ministry of Gender, Labour and
Social Development, which is severely constrained by meagre resources and a wide
and unwieldy mandate, raises questions about the seriousness attached to ensuring
that the EOC actually comes into being. It is not surprising that of all the
constitutional commissions, it is the only one that has not been set up thus far. Recent
reports that the Commission might, in fact, not see the light of day due to the shift in
government policy to merge institutions in order to reduce public expenditure have
heightened the view that there has been no political will to set it up in the first place.

The aspect of affirmative action relating to representation in politics and decision
making has tended to overshadow other aspects of the policy. This has resulted in the
understanding affirmative action to mean representation in politics and decision
making. This is most likely because representation in political structures is the most
visible area in which affirmative action has been operationalised. Affirmative action is
a long-term measure aimed at redressing imbalances caused by history, tradition and
custom. The formula for representation of marginalised groups, on the other hand, is a
short-term measure, which is supposed to be reviewed after 10 years, and thereafter,
every 5 years to determine whether it should be retained, increased or abolished.

It is important to make the distinction between the overall provision for affirmative
action and the provisions for representation because representation alone cannot
address the root causes of imbalance and marginalisation based on gender. The
expectation that representation in politics and decision making will translate into
redressing gender imbalance under-estimates the structural causes of these imbalances
and the necessity for multiple interventions to address them.

3 Conclusions and Recommendations
This review set out to establish the status of affirmative action in Uganda and whether
there is a specific policy document and secure institutional arrangement for its
implementation. The review has established that even though the conditions under
which affirmative action has been implemented in Uganda have been less than ideal,
it has had some positive impact on the composition and nature of politics and decision
making. These achievements justify its retention and underscore the need for
strengthening its provisions as one of the ways for addressing gender-based inequality
and marginalisation. The review further highlights the fact that absence of a specific
policy and institutional arrangement for the implementation of affirmative action has
undermined its effectiveness, and threatens its very existence.
A strong point of affirmative action in Uganda is that it is provided for in the
Constitution. This has created both an obligation on the part of the state and a right on
the part of the citizens who stand to benefit from the provision – the women. This is
reinforced by the recognition of the fundamental rights of women under the
Constitution (Article 33). The provision stipulates that affirmative action is meant to
redress imbalances created by history, tradition or custom, thereby recognising the
deeply rooted, structural nature of the causes of imbalances and marginalisation.
A major challenge to the implementation of affirmative action is lack of a secure
institutional framework. The EOC, which the Constitution provides for, has been
slow in getting established. The MoGLSD, which is responsible for setting up the
EOC, is itself constrained by inadequate resources coupled with a wide and extensive

Critical Review of Affirmative Action in Uganda: Report by Elizabeth Kharono            12
mandate that covers virtually all marginalised social groups. Failure to establish the
EOC has meant that no action has been taken to interpret the provisions of the
constitution relating to affirmative action or to develop concrete strategies and set
targets and performance indicators for it.
The constitutional provision for affirmative action anticipates the passing of laws to
operationalise it, including the law to establish the EOC. The Local Government Act
operationalises part of the constitutional provision on affirmative action with respect
to representation of women and other marginalised groups in local government
councils. This together with the provision for parliamentary representation of women
has resulted in an increase in the number of women actively involved in politics and
decision making at all levels. This representation is due to be reviewed after ten years
since the coming into effect of the 1995 Constitution.
Even though action on other constitutional provisions have been spear-headed by the
key stakeholders and beneficiaries, women, as a category of a marginalised social
group, have not engaged the key players in any coherent way to ensure that the
provisions are translated into strategic and sustained benefits for women. This
explains why, almost ten years since the promulgation of the Constitution, there is
very limited awareness among women on the status of affirmative action and the
extent of its institutionalisation. Limited awareness about the policy among the broad
spectrum of Ugandan women means that the likelihood that it might “get lost” purely
on the grounds that there is no serious demand for it, are high.
Debates already emerging around women’s representation in political structures
indicate that there are groups who are already pushing for the abolition of the
provisions for representation of women in Parliament and on local councils. The need
for women and other proponents of affirmative action to prepare for this apparent
backlash by proactively presenting an informed and strong case for the retention or
even increase of the numbers of women representatives at all levels can, therefore, not
be overemphasised.
The above overview indicates that any action in support of affirmative action for
women in politics and decision making has to be at two levels. At one level,
immediate steps need to be taken to address the current “threats” to affirmative action.
In this regard, strategies need to be developed to engage the ongoing constitution
review process with the goal of ensuring that the provisions for affirmative action in
the 1995 Constitution are, at the very minimum, retained or further strengthened.
Closely linked to this is the need to ensure that the outcomes of the current CRC
process do not invalidate the need for a comprehensive review of representation as
provided for in the 1995 Constitution.
Another important priority for immediate attention is securing the institutional
arrangements for affirmative action. Given the efforts already in place aimed at
having this commission established, an area of immediate attention is to broaden and
intensify support for the establishment of the EOC as the mechanism for giving effect
to affirmative action. Because recommendations from the CRC process will have
implications for the setting up of the EOC, it is critical that immediate interventions
are made to ensure that the provisions for its establishment are not reversed by the
CRC. Strategies also need to be put in place to ensure that the move by government to
reduce its expenditure does not adversely affect the institutionalisation of affirmative
action, or reverse the achievements so far registered.

Critical Review of Affirmative Action in Uganda: Report by Elizabeth Kharono         13
The second level at which action in support of affirmative action needs to be taken
has to do with strengthening its interpretation and implementation in order for it to
serve the purpose it is intended for in the Constitution–redressing gender imbalances.
A major factor in ensuring that this happens is establishing a strong institutional
framework with the capacity to develop a strategic agenda for affirmative action as a
whole, spell out its content, procedures for implementation, monitoring and
evaluation. The process of institutionalising affirmative action should involve the
broad spectrum of the women of Uganda as the stakeholders in this provision, and
should aim at enlisting ownership of affirmative action as a strategy.
In view of these two levels of action on the way forward, the following specific
recommendations are proposed22:
        Mobilise the broad spectrum of women in Uganda to formulate and act upon a
         minimum common agenda on affirmative action as provided for in the 1995
         Constitution;
        Engage the current CRC process with a view to securing the provisions for
         affirmative action in the Constitution. The strategies developed for engaging
         this process should be based on a broad coalition of all marginalised groups
         (the youth, PWD, workers, etc) and should take advantage of all policy
         opportunities and infrastructure including those provided by the Women's
         Councils;
        Engage the CRC process to influence and positively impact on the impending
         review of affirmative action (Art. 78 (5) of the Constitution);
        Develop a proactive, systematic, co-ordinated and sustained strategy for
         increasing ownership of the affirmative action policy among women and
         women’s organisations, including taking ownership of and determining the
         content of processes and infrastructure of Women's Councils;
        Engage the civic education process to support women in politics and decision
         making and devise strategies for capacity building for effective representation
         of women at all levels;
        Engage in the current processing of establishing the EOC with a view to
         ensuring that there is a strong and effective institutional framework for the
         implementation, monitoring and evaluation of affirmative action as a strategy
         for redressing gender-based marginalisation and imbalance;
        Develop strategies to ensure that the constitutions and manifestos of political
         parties support women’s participation in politics and decision making,
         generally, and affirmative action for women, specifically;
        Broaden application of affirmative action to other issues such as livelihoods,
         education, health, budgeting and allocation of resources, etc.




22
   These are general recommendations on the way forward for affirmative action in the light of the
findings and conclusions of this review. They are made with the understanding that UWONET will
identify and interest other players. For it to be effective, whatever strategy is undertaken will need to be
deliberate and holistic rather than fragmented and ad hoc.
Critical Review of Affirmative Action in Uganda: Report by Elizabeth Kharono                             14
References
Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, 1995
Local Government Act, 1997
Women's Council Statute, 1993
Women's Council (Amendment) Act, 2002
DENIVA: Towards Effective Political Participation and Decision Making for Women
Councillors in Decentralised Local Governments and the Role of NGOs in Uganda,
2002;
FAO: Gender and Decentralisation: Promoting Women’s Participation in Local
Councils, Case Study of Lira District, Uganda, 2000;
Goetz, Anne Marie: “No Shortcuts to power: constraints on women’s political
effectiveness in Uganda”, Journal of Modern African Studies, Cambridge University
Press; 2002;
Matembe, M. Politics, Gender and Constitution Making in Uganda, Fountain
Publishers 2002.
Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development; The National Gender Policy,
1997;
Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development: National Women’s Council
Guidelines, 1999;
Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development: The National Action Plan on
Women, 1999;
Museveni, Y.K: Consolidating the Achievements of the Movement – 2001 Election
Manifesto, 2001;
NRM Secretariat: The Movement Fifteen Point Programme, 1999;
Shireen Hassim: “The Dual Politics of Representation: Women and Electoral Politics
in South Africa”, in Glenda Fick, et al: One Woman, One Vote: the Gender Politics of
South Africa Elections, 2001
Tamale, S: “Gender and Affirmative Action in post-1995 Uganda: A New Dimension
of Business as Usual?”: Beyond the Horizon: Towards A New African
Constitutionalism; (electronic copy)
Tamale, S: Gender Implications for Opening Up Political Space, 2003 – Paper
presented at the launch of the Makerere Law Journal, Makerere University;
Tamale, S: When Hens Begin to Crow: Gender and Parliamentary Politics in
Uganda, 1999;




Critical Review of Affirmative Action in Uganda: Report by Elizabeth Kharono      15
                    Affirmative Action Review – Individuals Met
Date               Organisation/Institution                Individuals met
Monday 26th
                   UWONET                                  Ms Christine Sande
May
                                                           Ms Solome Nakawesi Kimbugwe
Tuesday 27th
                   PhD student/Action Aid Uganda           Ms Mary Sonko
May
                   Member of Parliament                    Hon Dorothy Hyuha
                   MoLG, Decentralisation Sec.             Ms Asumpta Tibamwenda
                   FOWODE                                  Ms Patricia Munabi
                   Member of Parliament                    Hon Kabakumba Masiko
Wednesday 28th
                   CRC Councilor                           Councilor Hajatti Safina
May
                   MoGLSD                                  Ms Jane Ekapu
                   EASSI                                   Ms Maude Mugisha
                   Member of Parliament                    Hon Loise Bwambale
Thursday 29th
                   FES                                     Mr Fritz Kopsieker
May
                   NAWOU                                   Ms Peace Kyamureku
                   NRM Secretariat                         Ms Beatrice Lagada
                   Makindye LCIII Council                  Councilor Rosemary Kanyike
                                                           Councilor Rosemary Namukasa
                                                           Councilor Josephine Lukoma
                                                           Councilor Hadijja Nakirya
                   Women’s Council                         Councilor Sarah Muwayire
         th
Friday 30 May      ACFODE                                  Ms Grace Mukasa
                   MoGLSD                                  Ms Jane Mpagi
         nd
Monday 2 June      DENIVA                                  Prof Kwesiga
                   Department of Gender and Women          Ms Josephine Ahikirwe
                   Studies, Makerere
                                                           Mr Alamanzan Madanda
                                                           Dr Joy Kwesiga
          rd
Tuesday 3 June     EALA                                    Hon Sheila Kawamara Mishambi




Critical Review of Affirmative Action in Uganda: Report by Elizabeth Kharono              16

								
To top