Since 1986, the NRM Government embarked on a deliberate effort to empower women and provide them with equal opportunities as their male counterparts to take up leadership positions in Government as well as in the judiciary, legislature and other organs of the Government.
Women in the Pre-NRM era were in a position only described as powerless, women were not allowed to express their opinions in public, a view that is deeply embedded in African patriarchal values, which relegate women to the affairs of the home and family.
Under the NRM Government, Affirmative measures have increased women’s role in decision making and participation at all levels in the society, some of the fruits of women empowerment by the NRM Government are: The proportion of women in parliament is over 30%.
Additional points to female applicants who wish to gain entry to university has substantially increased enrolment of girls in tertiary institutions and the ratio of girls to boys in primary education has now reached 1:1. NRM policy will remain dedicated to gender-responsive development.
Education brings with it a sense of self-discovery and self-determination, manifested through self-worth and self-value.
For that matter, an educated woman is an empowered one, thus the ability to overcome obstacles of progress such as poverty, disease, ignorance, violence and inhibiting customs or traditions.
The Local Government Act stipulates that women must occupy 30% of all positions of the Local Council structure while people with disabilities occupy 20% of these positions (a man and woman) (Local Government Act 1996).
This gives a total of 40% of women’s representation on these structures.
To widen the women’s National presence, the NRM Government created women constituencies as explained in ‘NRM 25 Years: Politics, Policies and Personalities’, a book about the hallmark achievements of NRM. It is observed, women comprise the highest number of the five special interest groups that Uganda’s Constitution recognises.
To level further the socio-political turf for women, the NRM Government has signed and ratified several international, regional and sub-regional instruments aimed at promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment.
For instance, the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), for instance, MDGs three and five, which target gender equality and women’s empowerment and improving maternal health, respectively.
A number of women have taken key positions in Government institutions such as the Rt. Hon. Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga, NRM Secretary General Rt Hon Justine Kasule Lumumba, NRM National Treasurer Hon Rose Namayanja Nsereko, Executive Director Uganda National Roads Authority Ms. Allen Kagina, Executive Director Kampala Capital City Authority Jennifer Semakula Musisi, Inspector General of Government (IGG) Irene Mulyagonja, Uganda Revenue Authority Commissioner General Doris Akol and the World Medical Association President Margaret Mungherera among others.
Women have also ascended to influential positions in corporate companies and in the civil society. They are country directors and coordinators of non-government organisations.
Uganda must strive to sustain the substantial progress it has made in recent years under NRM leadership in order to realize her vision.