By Francis Emorut and David Lumu
Former minister of ethics and integrity, Miria Matembe, has blasted women for not talking about the issue of teargas that the police use to disperse activists during demonstrations.
The outspoken activist said this after Betty Byanyima, a consultant, highlighted the issues raised during regional women in politics conferences across the country.
Some of the issues that have been brought to fore in these conferences include;
- men abandoning their role as breadwinners
- high rate of school dropout for girl child, and
Matembe appeared irritated as she addressed her audience at Hotel Africana in Kampala on Tuesday.
“We were being confronted by teargas here in Kampala – me and Jackie Asiimwe running around after the police teargased us and you are not raising it as a critical issue? Next time don’t invite me for your meetings.”
She also lashed out at women for not raising the issue of corruption yet the problem is rife in government institutions.
Ugandan police have often come under heavy criticism for using teargas to disperse crowds, with critics saying innocent civilians are caught in the pursuing commotion.
Some say is has a negative effect on the health of those affected.
But proponents of the crowd control strategy say it is necessary, especially for groups that have motive to cause chaos.
EALA Speaker Margaret Zziwa (R) and state minister Rukia Nakadama launched a survey called "Reality Check: Women in Leadership Positions in Uganda". PHOTO/Francis Emorut
(Left to right): Women activists Jackie Asiimwe-Mwesige, Patricia Munabi and Solome Nakawesi Kibungwe were at the conference. PHOTO/Francis Emorut
The two-day conference took place at Hotel Africana in Kampala. PHOTO/Francis Emorut
Before Matembe’s comments, Patricia Munabi, the executive director of Forum for Women in Democracy, had hinted that there should be commitment by political actors to address gender disparity that has tended to sideline women.
She called for increased accountability towards women centred political processes as far as governance is concerned.
“We refuse to be kept on the sidelines. Women voices must be heard in order to transform the lives of women in the country,” Munabi told participants, who included district speakers, technocrats, lawmakers, academia, civil society organizations and development partners.
“Sustainable development will not be attained if 52% of the population [women] is ignored.”
Rukia Nakadama, the state minister for gender, labour and social development said Uganda has fulfilled the Beijing Platform of having 30% women representation in Parliament.
“Since NRM came to power  women representation was 3%, but today women in Parliament represent 36%. This is not a mean achievement,” she said.
But women activists are calling for 50-by-50 representation in the House, something the state minister agreed to.
While she agreed with this, she maintained that women activists should not just clamor for political empowerment but also they should consider economic empowerment.
“Women should get political power but also economic empowerment that would enable women to own assets.”