By Agripinner Nandhego, Programme Specialist Political Participation and Leadership, UN Women Uganda
How do you explain the low representation of women in decision-making around the world, whether in village development committees, parliaments, governments, or intergovernmental organizations?
- In Uganda Negative Cultural perceptions play a big role in discouraging women from joining politics. Many people (both male & female) still believe women should not take up an active role in the public sphere. society sometimes shuns them and they get little support and encouragement.
- Low levels of education also deter women from participating because they may not meet the educational requirement for the positions.
- Sometimes lack of support from political parties discourages women from participating because they are not given space to nurture their potential and grooming into politics.
- There is limited space for mentoring of upcoming women leaders so they lack the skill of effectively participating in politics.
How can men as leaders take meaningful action to foster an increase in women’s representation in decision-making bodies? How can men as husbands/partners, fathers, sons, and other family members, support women’s role in political life? Share concrete examples.
In our traditional societies men are still valued and listened to. They are the 'gate keepers' through which you can get access to a community. They need to come out and sensitize communities on the importance of women in politics through different forums i.e as clan leaders, religious leaders, cultural leaders teachers etc.. In Uganda many civil society organizations are training men as civic educators and role models in society and in some societies it is working. UN Women has launched the He for She campaign in 2 cultural institutions (Buganda and Alur) and the message has been passed on that even these cultural leaders support women empowerment with a trickledown effect. The strategy of male champions is working even in Parliament where women who are 32% of the parliament work with male Mps to push for gender legislation. The Anti Female Genital Mutilation bill was tabled by a male MP and successfully enacted into law.
What potential challenges do male champions face in being active and vocal supporters of women in politics (or in women’s empowerment and gender equality)?
One of the challenges is that men risk being sidelined by other men in society. They can be labeled 'pro women, and in extreme cases 'Anti African' because some people still believe patriarchy is a cultural thing that needs to be protected.