Running on the theme, “Ugandan Women: Widening our Space in Leadership” its aim is to enhance the leadership of women in the transformation of Africa, in line with Africa Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.
In her speech, the Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga commended the Government of Uganda for the progress it has made in involving women in leadership. “In Parliament, we [women] are at 32 percent, in Local Government, it is over 40 percent, while in the cabinet we [women] are still at 22 percent. That is good progress,” she said. She urged women in leadership positions to use their offices to empower other women. She said women are still faced with discrimination in all spheres of life, citing an incident at Parliament where two female police officers were withdrawn from work because they were pregnant. “I directed the Inspector General of Police to bring them back. If it was not me in that position, I am sure they would have gone. We need to keep looking out for different issues,” she said.
The Leader of the Opposition in Parliament (LoP), Hon. Betty AolOcan, asked women leaders not to give up on taking up leadership positions due to being discouraged and the fear of making mistakes. She shared her own experience when she became the LoP, and negative comments were flung her way, but these did not deter her.“I am the second female LoP but it was not very easy for me to go to that office. That is why I have to tell you, women, to always stand strong, even when you make mistakes, do not give up, keep moving,” she said.
UN Resident Coordinator, Ms. Rosa Malango saluted gender activists for their role in the development of the Constitution of Uganda and their contribution to a peaceful Uganda. The Executive Director of Uganda Women’s Network, Ms. Rita Hope Aciro, said the platform is a collective action towards addressing the structural barriers that have continued to affect women in leadership since time immemorial. “Women around the world have been affected by leadership, economically, politically and socially. This is the reason we are calling for collective action as opposed to individualism. Together we look up to planet 50/50 as women of Africa,” She said.
The UN Women Deputy Country Representative to Uganda, Ms. Adekemi Ndieli underscored the significance of the platform, to bring together women from all walks of life who are passionate about leadership. “We are all aware of the challenges facing women in Uganda and globally. As we embark on this great journey, we must pledge that no one will be left behind. This is the time to arise to action and we can only do it together.”
With support from the office of the African Union Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security and the Federal Government of Germany, Adekemi pledged continued support of UN Women in empowering AWLN.