By Joyce Namutebi
KAMPALA - The Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs, Kahinda Otafiire has advised women against fighting for equality with men, but to instead concentrate on liberating the woman mentally and ideologically.
He stressed that men and women are all essential components of existence of mankind and must co-exist.
“My philosophy is that we made a mistake of comparing women and men. We cannot be compared,” Otafiire said.
He made the remarks while officiating at the launching of a report titled “Making a difference beyond numbers: Towards Women’s substantive engagement in political leadership in Uganda.”
The function took place in the Parliament Conference Hall on Friday.
The report was made by Isis-WICCE in collaboration with Uganda Women Parliamentary Association. The research was intended towards documenting women’s experiences in Uganda’s political leadership and generating information as an advocacy tool for social justice and women’s empowerment.
Otafiire noted that “Now we have reached stage of technical advancement when muscle power is irrelevant. It is the era of brain power.”
He was not in for favouring women. “What can men do that women can’t other than their biological functions?” he said adding, “Let everybody perform their functions satisfactorily then we can move forward.”
The minister observed that there is a notion that one group is superior to another, but that group has been dominant because of muscle power. “That era of muscle power has gone. Let us now concentrate on liberating the woman mentally and ideologically.”
He advised the women to drag men along “because they will not allow you to make them surrender the benefits they have enjoyed since time immemorial.”
Otafiire assured that the Constitution would be translated into local languages for people to understand it properly.
However, one of the participants, Thelma Owor told Otaffire that “we are still in the era of muscle power” citing the increasing domestic violence in the country. “We would like to be in the era of brain power, but we are not yet there,” Owor said.
Former state minister Miria Matembe also reminded the minister that women are fighting for equal opportunities with men. “It is extremely undesirable that I become a man,” she said.
She concurred with Owor that muscle power was still around and even MPs are not spared the battering by men.
Isis-WICCE’s Executive Director, Ruth Ojiambo Ochieng stressed the need to tackle the issue of sexual harassment of women in political leadership, an issue that featured in the report.
“The overly sexualisation of political space persistently came out as a major obstacle to women’s substantive engagement,” the report launched by Otafiire said.
Isis-women’s International Cross Cultural exchange is a global feminist action oriented human rights organization whose mandate is to empower, enable and strengthen women’s leadership in conflict and post conflict settings.