The Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon. Rebecca Kadaga, has promised support to women Members of Parliament when they re-introduce the Marriage and Divorce Bill and the amendment of the Succession Act and Employment Act.
Meeting the new Executive of the Uganda Women Parliamentary Association (UWOPA) led by the Chairperson, Hon. Monica Amoding, the Speaker said she was willing to use her position as the highest-ranking female voice in the country to support their activities.
“People have been running away from the Marriage and Divorce Bill yet it seeks to protect the woman who has been cohabiting while bearing children for a man,” she said further adding that, “we need to sensitize the public for them to understand this Bill.”
Other members of the UWOPA Executive at the meeting included Hon. Dorothy Nshaija, Sarah Babirye Kityo, Florence Namayanja and Agnes Kunihira.
The Marriage and Divorce Bill, which was formerly presented as the Domestic Relations Bill, was initially tabled in 2009 seeking to reform and consolidate the law relating to marriage, separation and divorce. It provided for the types of recognized marriages in Uganda, marital rights and duties, recognition of cohabitation in relation to property rights, sets grounds for breakdown of marriage, and provides for rights of parties on dissolution of marriage.
The Bill faced rejection from the general public in 2013 considering that its provisions were alien to African culture.
Speaker Kadaga added that UWOPA should go on and follow up on the amendment of the Succession and Employment Act to see that women are protected.
“Push for the Marriage and Divorce Bill and propose the amendment of the Succession and Employment Act to establish breastfeeding centres in places of work,” Kadaga said.
The Speaker said that cancer is a big issue as well and as Women MPs, there was need to lobby for screening for women.
“The Ethiopian First Lady has lobbied for screening in 113 hospitals within three years, so we should discuss this issue in the House seriously with the same energy,” Kadaga said.
UWOPA, which comprises of Women MPs, was set up with the aim of engendering the legislative process, creating awareness campaigns, encouraging lobbying and advocacy.