An MOU between UWOPA and AWEPA is due to be signed, aimed at ensuring gender equity through legislation
KAMPALA - The Uganda Women's Parliamentary Association (UWOPA) is set to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Association of European Parliamentarians with Africa (AWEPA), to ensure gender equity through legislation.
Kris Debref, AWEPA’s director of bilateral programmes for Africa, said the Ugandan parliament was selected as one of the African parliaments to benefit from AWEPA's programs in the next five years.
"We have selected Uganda as one of the beneficiaries. It will be interesting to hear from you the women legislators on what should be the priority," she said.
Debref was speaking at a meeting with woman MPs at Golf Course Hotel in Kampala on Tuesday.
‘I believe in the power of women’
At the meeting, Johan Van Hecke, a senior parliamentary advisor for AWEPA, noted that through the Ugandan parliament, AWEPA had already committed its support to two parliamentary committees: the one of labor, gender and social development, and that of equal opportunities.
He said AWEPA, which had suspended its funding to most of the African countries including Uganda, had resumed its operations and funding.
"Our basket fund (donors) had told us that they no longer fund activities of AWEPA being an international organization and that their funding only targets local organizations. That is why AWEPA has been less active," he said.
According to Van Hecke, AWEPA had already signed MOUs with the parliaments of Kenya and Zimbabwe.
The association’s president AWEPA, Miet Smet, told Ugandan legislators that AWEPA was ready to support UWOPA during the next five years to ensure equitability. "I believe in the power of women. We have more less the same problem and that is sex-based discrimination.”
She urged the women MPs to ensure that gender laws passed by parliament are implemented to protect the vulnerable groups especially girls and women.
Smet also urged the MPs to consider engaging men on issues to do with women laws, adding that their vote matters.
MP Sylvia Akello (Otuke) spoke about the state of the nation address (scheduled for the following day) during the meeting. (Credit: Godfrey Kimono)
Jovah Kamateeka, the woman MP for Mitooma district, asked AWEPA to consider extending its funding towards maternal health to save the lives of mothers and children. "We are keen on issues of maternal health. It is an area that is close to our hearts. UWOPA is so much interested in this and you should consider helping in that line.”
The women MPs also appealed to AWEPA to consider financing research on issues affecting women to enable legislators come up with laws to protect the group.
In her brief to AWEPA, Betty Iyamuremye, the coordinator UWOPA, said that during the last (9th) parliament, UWOPA pushed for a number of laws such as the Sexual Offences Bill, Marriage and Divorce Bill, Succession Amendment Bill, among others, to protect women.
"We want to ensure that every law that is passed by parliament has a women perspective.
“Recently, parliament amended the Public Finance Management Act 2015, which introduced a certificate for gender equity," said Iyamuremye.