Legislatures are key in influencing the shape and content of a country’s financial and development agenda through legislation and influencing policy.
“In their core mandate, which revolves around legislation, policy oversight and budget approval, Parliaments are central in the growth and development of any country,” the Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga said.
The Speaker made these remarks while addressing delegates from various African Parliaments at the opening of the 47th Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CWP) Africa Region Conference taking place in Balaclava, Mauritius from 22nd to 27th August 2016 under the theme “Africa for Sustainable Goals: the Role of Parliaments.”
On the issue of women representation in parliaments, Kadaga noted that some strides had been achieved on the African Continent. She cited that some success stories have been registered in Cameroon, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Namibia, South Africa, Rwanda and Uganda where women representation in parliament ranges between 30 to 40 percent.
Kadaga however, also cited challenges in the West African region where women representation is less than 30 percent. Delegates from West African countries attributed the low levels of women representation to branding elective posts to men and the mentality that it was taboo for a woman to stand for a parliamentary position.
The Speaker advised the meeting that the CWP African Region should continuously monitor countries due for elections so that political party leaders are engaged to influence policies and legislations before elections; to influence plans and ensure that women are fronted for elective positions.
Kadaga reminded African governments to ensure that women are always included in all the peace and security processes at all levels including peacekeeping, peace negotiations and peace building.
The Prime Minister of Mauritius, Rt. Hon. Sir. Anerood Jugnauth, reminded parliamentarians that the twin pillars of the Commonwealth are democracy and social economic development.
“Democracy and development are inter-connected. democracy creates the necessary conditions that favour economic development by giving citizens the liberty to freely make choices for their well-being and future,” he said.
The Premier added that, “where there’s development, there is always political stability which re-enforces democracy”.
He called for responsible utilisation of natural resources to reduce on climatic changes in Africa and the whole world.
Hon. Dikigale Masefako Clarah from the National Assembly of South Africa was elected the new Chairperson for the Commonwealth Women Parliamentary Association.