WFD’s promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment in Uganda is already showing results.

Our relationships with both local partners and the Parliament put us in a strong position to improve post-legislative scrutiny across a broader sweep of policy areas.

Uganda and WFD: Committed to change

Uganda has made great strides towards strengthening women’s rights in its first decade of multiparty politics. New laws targeting the UN’s Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) reflect the Government’s determination to improve the lives of Ugandan women. But implementing CEDAW has proved challenging, particularly in the north and east – areas devastated by the Lord’s Resistance Army for nearly two decades.

WFD believes we can help connect civil society organisations with local and national parliamentarians to accelerate the process of positive change. Promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment in Uganda involves working across our four outcome areas. Whether it’s strengthening local and national parliaments’ policy oversight, holding the government to account, strengthening representation, or encouraging more citizen participation in fostering change, our work contributes towards our overall vision: a Uganda where inclusive and effective democratic governance makes a real difference towards citizens’ lives across the country.

WFD’s CEDAW programme

We’re working to enhance civil engagement and political dialogue on the implementation of legislation supporting CEDAW, with the ultimate goal of reducing the levels of violence suffered by women and girls. Our , which started in May 2014, covers Kapchorwa and Bukwo districts in the east, and Gulu and Nwoya in the north. CSOs, local councils and Parliament are participating in activities which help them scrutinise CEDAW legislation more effectively.

Our combination of training events and workshops for CSOs, journalists, district council staff and parliamentary researchers are showing real progress. Our main partners, Gulu Women’s Economic Development and REACH – report that citizens are more aware of their rights because of our combined work. Better public discourse on human rights and democracy is essential, which is why we’re so pleased to have organised the first ever Women’s Parliament in Uganda in June 2015.

Our relationships

WFD has developed strong relationships with both executive and parliament since opening our offices in Kampala in 2009. Our four-year programme with The Westminster Consortium, beginning in 2009establishing both a Human Rights Committee and the Institute of Parliamentary Studies. Our current programme has deepened our understanding of local government; we now have good relationships with local councils, authorities and police in four target districts. We’ve also contributed to the development of multi-party politics by enabling a partnership between the People’s Progressive Party and its British sister-party, resulting in a 20% increase in their membership. And we now have close relationships with some of Uganda’s leading CSOs, as well as the Uganda Women Parliamentary Association. Our main relationship, though, remains with the Parliament of Uganda. Its leadership is committed to continuing improvement, as the assistance they’ve provided us with in mobilising MPs for training and awareness visits to target regions shows.

What’s next?

We’ve got a lot more to contribute to Uganda in the coming years.

Politicians of all parties are committed to tracking the implementation of existing laws and policies. This presents a big opportunity for the Parliament, which can be strengthened as an institution by improving its post-legislative scrutiny function. Better accountability and oversight of broader human rights issues, the justice system and the sound management of public finances are obvious next steps.

Gender equality and women’s empowerment will remain a central focus of our operations in Uganda. But we hope that the positive changes adopted in this area can spread good governance across all areas of public policy, and trickle down to local government officials and civil society too. WFD can use its strong relationships with the Speaker, UWOPA and key international stakeholders to work to strengthen the newly-elected Parliament across all these areas.

That means partnering with both national and international organisations like WFD which want to work in Uganda for the long-term. We’re committed to remaining in the country and continuing the work we’ve started after our current programme ends in December 2016.

Featured image – flickr – sweggs