KAMPALA —WOMEN should continue to be the backbone of the economies in Africa especially in their roles as scientists, farmers, entrepreneurs, traders, and in many other fields, says Vice President Maj (Rtd) Jessica Alupo.
The Vice President, says if women are supported, they are instrumental in transforming communities, their country, and the African continent.
Alupo, quoting the speech made by Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat, recently, during the 57th anniversary of the Pan-African Women’s Organization; noted, “Women continue to be the backbone of the economies of Africa as farmers, entrepreneurs, traders, scientists and leaders in many other sectors, and encouraged them to continue doing so for the transformation of Africa.”
The Vice President added, “He also pointed out that it is our collective responsibility to hold ourselves and our leaders accountable to deliver on our gender equality and women’s empowerment commitments.”
She made the remarks yesterday, at Serena Hotel, as a Chief Guest, at the opening ceremony of the women’s political leadership regional convention; hosted by Akina Mama wa Africa.
Akina Mama wa Afrika is a feminist Pan-African leadership development organization that is headquartered in Kampala, Uganda. Akina Mama wa Afrika in partnership with FEMNET and several women political and civic leaders and actors created a platform to hold a Pan-African transformative conversation to advance women’s political rights on the continent.
Alupo, also added, “This Convention should, among other things, focus on generating knowledge that accelerates the advancement of women’s rights, including the rights of women to participate in politics in this region and the rest of Africa.”
She explained that this resonates very well with this year’s theme, ‘Women’s political leadership: building back transformatively’.”
“All of us should discuss and generate practical solutions to raise a woman’s social, economic, and political status. Given the historical gender imbalance in Uganda and the rest of Africa, what is needed is affirmative action to uplift the previously marginalized social groups and to address their concerns,” the Vice President added.
She explained, “For the last 30 or so years, Uganda has been resolving the above imbalance whereby our Government deliberately emphasized affirmative action to ensure representation of women at all levels of decision-making. The Government also introduced the youth livelihood and women entrepreneurship programs to help the youth and women to engage in income-generating activities.”
“I am glad to note that at the political level, the elderly, youth, disabled women in Uganda are well represented today; from the grass root to the highest Office, in this country,” she added.
The Vice President thanked women with the spirit of empowering fellow African woman. “Among the categories of women, I wish to recognize especially during this convention, are female medical workers, like doctors, nurses, and midwives, etc. who are the vessels through which life is borne. In addition to their routine tasks, many of these women plus other health workers are at the front line, fighting to contain the COVID -19 pandemic.”
She advised, “As we strive to ensure gender parity in this region and the rest of Africa, let’s continue celebrating the achievements of these people, and other African women.”
Maggie Kigozi, the Board Chairperson of Akina Mama wa Africa, concurring with the Vice President, noted that globally, regional, nationally, “Women have played a critical role in shaping and creating a better world. Unfortunately, our contribution remains unseen, unrecognized, and undervalued. African women continue to strive forward to ensure a better future for all.”
According to the first Women’s Political Participation (WPP) Africa Barometer 2021, women constitute 24% of the 12,113 parliamentarians in Africa – 25% in the lower houses, and 20% in the upper houses of parliament. Additionally, a key arena of the political structure is the political party yet only 12% of women are represented at political party top leadership positions across the 54 African countries.
She added, “COVID-19 has disproportionately affected women and girls’ autonomy economically, politically, and socially; and how those far-ranging impacts are dependent on the intersection of identities, situations, and communities that make up our respective countries. It has revealed both gaps and opportunities to engage more women in decision-making and leading response and recovery efforts.”
Kigozi added, “We envision a world in which African women are politically, economically, and socially autonomous and are champions of change in their lives and society.”
This regional convention has been organised under the auspices of the Power of Dialogue programme with funding from the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Power of Dialogue programme is being implemented by a consortium steering group comprising of Akina Mama wa Afrika, Center for the Mediterranean and International Studies, Gorée Institute: Center for Democracy, Development, and Culture in Africa Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy, and partner organizations from Kenya, Uganda, Sudan, Ethiopia, Tunisia, Senegal, and the Netherlands.
The Power of Dialogue programme seeks to enhance the collaboration of political and civic actors to participate in accountable political processes. It is an opportunity for creating intersectional spaces of engagement between civic and political actors with a special emphasis on women, youth, and other marginalized groups; to jointly contribute to shaping the agenda for dialogue to realize the much-needed synergetic progress on the governance front.