Amplifying the voices of persons with disabilities in policymaking in Uganda
In Uganda, there is a huge disconnect between persons with disabilities (PWDs) and their representatives in parliament. This is primarily because their representatives are elected through an electoral college process that is hampered by inadequate dissemination of the electoral laws and guidelines for elections of PWD representatives at national and local government levels.
It is often the case that only those who are familiar with the system take part in PWD elections in Parliament. It is therefore not surprising that the five PWD representatives in the Parliament have served several terms despite complaints from PWD groups that these representatives rarely share their concerns on the floor of Parliament.
Through our DFID-funded Inclusive and Accountable Politics programme, WFD Uganda has facilitated platforms for PWDs to address the existing gap between their leaders and their constituents and amplified their voices in policy debate and formulation. In July 2019, for example, WFD supported PWD youth leaders from institutions of higher learning across the country to discuss pertinent issues affecting their active participation in politics.
Following these engagements, these youth leaders committed to work with MPs under the Uganda Parliamentary Forum on Youth Affairs (UPFYA) a parliamentary caucus to advance the PWD legislative agenda in Parliament.
“WFD has offered us a platform we have never had before where we can ably discuss the issues affecting us as youth Persons with Disabilities in all spheres. This is closing a big gap that has existed between us and our leaders for a long time.”
Immaculate Akello, a PWD and Women activist.
UPFYA members and PWD leaders also committed to recall the Persons with Disabilities Act (2018), a piece of legislation which was passed without adequate consultation of PWDs and was consistently criticised for failing to address key needs of the PWD population.
In September 2019, UPFYA successfully lobbied to have an entire session during the National Youth Moot Parliament dedicated to putting forward strategies to promote increased participation of PWDs in politics. This resulted in proposals to amend the National Youth Council Act (2010) to include representation of youth PWDs at all levels and to provide for a national youth MP representing PWDs. If amended, the National Youth MP representing PWDs will join the four regional and single national youth representatives that currently represent young people in Parliament.