78 percent of Uganda’s population is below the age of 30, and 51 percent are women. A robust legal and policy framework for young people’s and women’s representation in governance exists, but it has done little to address the limited and divided opportunities for these groups to influence national policies. What is more, it has been difficult to create meaningful legislation which is responsive to the social, economic and political needs and aspirations of women and young people in Uganda.
Over the past 16 months, WFD has worked with MPs belonging to the Uganda Parliamentary Forum on Youth Affairs (UPFYA) and the Uganda Women Parliamentary Association (UWOPA) to build their capacity to engage with their respective stakeholders and generate momentum to influence Parliament’s agenda in favour of the advancement of women and youth in Uganda.
Under the Democratic Governance Facility supported “Strengthening Women and Youth Participation and Representation” project, WFD has trained over 280 MPs with tools for policy advocacy, lobbying and communications and on their financial oversight role. Equipped with these skills, MPs’ legislative capacity to influence the pro-women, gender equality and pro-youth agenda has improved.
As such, these MPs have successfully advocated to fast-track Parliamentary debate on the Sexual Offenses Bill 2015, the Externalisation of Labour Bill 2019, and the Succession Amendment Bill 2018, among others. They have also encouraged more media attention on the negative impact the ever-increasing tax burden is having on women, young people and persons with disabilities, as well as advocated for this to be addressed.
In 2018, youth MPs who were trained in policy advocacy and lobbying spearheaded efforts to recall provisions in the Exercise Duty (Amendment) Act 2018. This act provided for the institution of a 1% Mobile Money tax as well as a Social Media Tax. These advocacy and lobbying efforts contributed to a vote by MPs in Parliament to revise the taxable amount on Mobile Money from 1% to 0.5%.
UPFYA members who were trained on financial oversight, were equipped with skills to track government spending on youth programmes and used these skills to successfully influence the 2019/2020 budget process in favour of increasing allocation of funds to youth development programmes sector.
MP’s advocacy efforts under this project have extended to taking steps to introduce policies and practices in Parliament which create more inclusive spaces for young men and women to discuss the issues affecting them and bring them to the attention of Parliament. In 2019, members of UPFYA successfully lobbied the Speaker of Parliament to institutionalize the Youth Moot a parliamentary session that brings together young people from across the country in the Parliamentary Chambers to deliberate on key issues affecting them, as an annual Parliamentary event.
“As Parliament, we are ready and willing to continue hosting youth CSOs and the youth moot in parliament on an annual basis as earlier suggested by the organisers of this parliamentary session.”
Rt. Hon Rebecca Kadaga, Speaker of the Parliament of Uganda
Since it was first introduced in 2018, the Youth Moot has played a significant role in creating a platform for youth to meaningfully participate in governance and development processes of their country. The Youth Moot sessions have paved the way for key issues affecting young people to be placed at the forefront of the Parliament’s agenda.