By Emmanuel Gyezaho
As far as women emancipation goes, it can be said without the slightest hesitation that commendable effort has been made by government in reducing gender based disparities in the country.
If anything, political representation for special interest groups through affirmative action remains one of the key ideals a good majority of Ugandans remain thankful for with President Museveni’s government.
My attention, however, has been drawn to a piece on this subject, written with factual inaccuracies by Ms. Sophie Kyagulanyi, as published by New Vision newspaper under the title, “Women cheated in RDC reshuffle”, Thursday February 13, 2014.
For one, the author in her article claimed that “out of the 378 RDCs and deputy RDCs appointed only 26 were women.” That comment is deceitful.
In exercise of the powers vested in the President under Article 203 (1) of the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda, President Museveni on February 6, 2014 appointed a total of 188 women and men to the position of RDC and Deputy RDC, and not 378 as alleged by Ms Kyagulanyi. Of these, at least 38 are women and not 26 as the author posited.
That statistic, however, is beside the point.
In the exercise of this duty, it is imperative to note that the President takes into consideration an array of issues to inform the decision over who gets appointed RDC or deputy. The decision to appoint, as it were, overrides considerations about, for instance, where somebody comes from (read: regional balance) or which faith they subscribe to (read: religious affiliation) and even whether the candidate is male or female (read: gender balance).
Indeed, considerations maybe taken while looking through the above prisms but ultimately, competence comes at the top of the yardstick through which these and such political appointments are made.
The Office of the President believes that the recently assembled team of RDCs and Deputy RDCs meet and fit the bill for which they have been commissioned, not least as they serve as the eyes and ears of the President in their areas of deployment, but a team of women and men whose primary role is to monitor and ensure the delivery of necessary social services to the people of Uganda.
Ms Kyagulanyi and other concerned citizens should know that from time to time, the performance of all RDCs and their Deputies is (and shall be) reviewed for the singular purpose of ensuring that competent leaders who can deliver on the job get into these positions.
While Ms Kyagulanyi presents a dim picture of the influence, role and participation of Ugandan women in shaping decisions and policies that address women’s strategic and social needs in the country, the reality on the ground is quite the contrary.
Uganda’s standing globally on this subject is one that is telling. According to The Global Gender Gap Index 2013, a framework introduced by the World Economic Forum for capturing the magnitude and scope of gender-based disparities and tracking their progress, of 136 countries, Uganda comes at position 46 on the index that considers four crucial areas; Economic participation and opportunity, educational attainment, health and survival and political empowerment. Ms Kyagulanyi would be happy to know that Uganda attained a rank of 28 out of 136 countries on the issue of political empowerment.
And while there is still a lot of work to be done, Uganda certainly remains on track on the journey to gender parity.
The writer is the Deputy Special Presidential Assistant in Charge of Research and Information
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