A report on gender and women’s participation in the 2016 general elections reveals that women’s participation is still low. The report was released by the Women’s Democracy Group (WDG) on 2nd February 2016 at Hotel Africana in Kampala.

The report notes that while the legal framework on campaigns does not discriminate against women and men during the elections, women are facing some peculiar challenges, due to the social, economic and cultural construction of Ugandan society. These include: less access to resources than their male counterparts; gender roles which at times prevent them participating in politics; religious and cultural obstacles to their participation; and domestic violence among others.

The report further notes that despite the fact that women comprise 52% of the population of Uganda, their participation as candidates in the 2016 elections is minimal especially those running for the open seats. Out of the eight presidential candidates, only one is female representing 12.5 %, while out of the 1,306 candidates contesting for the open Member of Parliament seats, only 83 (6.8%) are women of which 58% are running as independents. The situation at the level of LCV Chairperson is even worse with only 7 women (1.9%) compared to 376 men (98.1%).

The amended Presidential and Parliamentary Elections Acts have also been faulted by the report for undermining women’s participation in elections. The amended Presidential Election Act raised the nomination fees for presidential candidates from 8 million to 20 million Uganda shillings, and removed the provision for a vehicle and a modest contribution of 20 million Uganda shillings to the candidates’ campaigns. Likewise, the amended Parliamentary Elections Act requires aspiring candidates for parliamentary seats to pay nomination fees of 3,000,000, up from 200,000 Uganda shillings. This reality has limited the number of women candidates at presidential and parliamentary levels because they are constrained by inadequate resources.

Citing a report published by the African Centre for Media Excellence (ACME) on media monitoring for November 2015, the WDG report noted that female candidates continue to be a less source of information in media on elections than their male counterparts. Thus, although elections provide the best possible opportunity to ensure women’s voices are heard, their concerns are addressed, and their potential contributions to peace and democracy are maximized, the limited access to media and coverage of women minimizes their leadership ability. 

While the affirmative action policy was meant to enhance women’s participation in elective politics by ensuring that there is a woman representative for each district in the country, the reports notes that male contestants and their supporters have used it as tool for false propaganda. The message relayed to the electorate is that women have reserved seats and thus they should not contest for direct positions so as to reduce on the competition for male contestants.

The report recommends that the Electoral Commission should use all possible means to provide voter information on the voting process as per the Electoral Commission Amendment Act 2015; intensify clarity on the requirements for voting e.g. the identification card, and the voter’s registry; and educate the masses on the biometric system. The report further urges the media to increase coverage of female voices as a source of information; and calls for commitment by all candidates to having violence free elections thorough exemplary language and actions, among others.

To download the full report, please click: WDG Report on Gender and Women’s Participation In the 2016 General Elections

 

The DGF supports WDG with funds to strengthen women’s influence in leadership and decision making processes for gender responsiveness and political accountability.