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The Women's Movement in Uganda (Essay Sample)

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literature review on the role of women in Uganda

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The Women’s Movement in Uganda
Introduction
Most governments across the world have put in place various methods of affirmative action through quota system to bring under-represented hitherto category of women to the formal representative of politics. The quota laws are institutionalized in political structures and entrenched in constitutions, hence are aimed at bringing an equitable gender balance which can be translated into laws and policies that govern the community. This notwithstanding, however, the question that needs to be asked is whether this goal can be achieved. A case affirmative action in Uganda will be used in this paper to examine why despite the high degree of legal and political advances of women, the status of women in Uganda have always been characterized by public-private dichotomy, traditional perspectives and women have always been subordinated by men. The paper will compare two books by Tripp, Aili Mari, and Joy C., one titled as Kwesiga The women's movement in Uganda: History, challenges, and prospects, while the other one is by Tripp, Aili Mari (2000), titled as Women & politics in Uganda. The two books generally talks about the barriers faced by women in their political participation which is as a result of the cultural and social norms. In both books, the writer has addressed, the traditional attitudes and patriarchal structures which should be addressed to enable women enjoy their constitutional rights in the political arena.
Tripp, Aili Mari, and Joy C. (2002)’s book on the women's movement in Uganda: History, challenges, and prospects examines the achievements of various movements’ right from the period of post-independence until the contemporary times. The themes in these book includes contribution to girls’ education, activism of women during the colonial period, women’s agency in economy and business, women in agriculture, the role of women in conflict resolution, the media, religious institutions, and the struggle for land. Equally, the book contains sections of women’s writing and publishing as well as the importance of creative writing for self determination and women independency. It also contains some biographies of women leaders in Uganda. The book was published on April 1, 2002 by Fountain Pub Ltd
In this book, the writers address the roles played by women. In chapter one, the authors claim that the role of women in the ancient Uganda to be subordinate to the chores that belonged to men. The writers further argue that traditional cultures did not recognize women’s contributions in economic development, political development, or even social growth. Women were trained to comply with the wills and wishes of their husbands, fathers, and brothers; and in some situations they were forced by tradition to respect the wishes of other men, and to show their submissiveness to men in almost all sectors of their lives. In the early 1980s, women especially in the Buganda kingdom were supposed to kneel while addressing a man. Despite all these challenges large population of men stated that the society was revered by women. It is obvious that women from Uganda were entitled to some traditional civil rights that women from the Western societies did not have.
The first three chapters of the book give the historical and political background of the country. The writers argue that Uganda is considered as a ‘model country’ when it comes to the participation of women in politics. The constitution of Uganda has been praised for accommodating women who were previously underrepresented. The constitution has provisions which are aimed at according women equal rights and protection. This includes the affirmation that “laws, cultures, customs or traditions which are against the dignity, welfare or interest of women or which undermine their status, are prohibited by this Constitution” (The Parliament, 1995). Despite the above guarantee, the actual effectiveness and practices of affirmative action in improving the women status in Uganda is widely disputed. The debate has been on whether the reserved seats of women have provided the society with any positive impact. It should be noted that the “progressive” leaderships have responded to the demands of women hence creating a political space for women. This has provided women with an opportunity to challenge women oppression and subordination as well as patriarchy. On the other hand, however, the patriarchy and rural society have resisted change hence creating ambivalence among “progressive” leaders.
The writers of this book talks about the social culture among the Ugandan people and challenges faced by Ugandan women. In chapter four and five, for instance, the writers argue that most Ugandan societies acknowledged women as significant in religious leadership. This notwithstanding, however, this had its own challenges. They argue that the role of women as religious leaders led to religious rebellion that overthrew male dominance in politics. They further states that the challenges faced by women need to be addressed. In the same chapters, the writers give solutions on how the challenges can be overcome. In the solutions offered include: changing the style of politics so as to improve the status of women, addressing the issue of qualitative versus quantitative representation, looking in to policy and legislative reforms that promote and support advancement of women, and maintaining positive results. In addition, an effective connection should be established so as to link women’s movements and women politicians. Lastly, the contributions of women participating in developing their region should be acknowledged.
On the other hand, the book gives comparison on the different traditional practices by various societies in Uganda. For instance, in certain societies in Uganda, women were allowed to own land, contribute to crucial decisions in politics that were organized by men, and also to cultivate crops and enjoy profit from the sale. However, men kept on violating these freedoms and in the 1920s, men started to claim land that belonged to women. This action was supported by protectorate courts and local councils.
The authors’ analysis on marriage traditions in Uganda is good. The writers allege that Uganda practiced polygamy, which allowed men to marry many wives. The book succeeds in citing out the effects of polygamy in the society. They allege that it led to dominance of men over women. However, the writers are quick to point out that polygamy also gave women a cooperative society that they could use to challenge male dominance. This resistance towards men was mainly brought about by the fact that after marrying many wives, men had the tendency to choose the oldest to act as a man in their absence. In the early twentieth century, polygamous practices had led to the formation of a bond that was not recognized as legal marriage. In addition, these bonds led to a lack of inheritance rights after divorce, or even after the death of a husband for women in such situations. The authors of this book allege that Ugandan women are always limited in their political effectiveness by social, patriarchal and traditional practices and structures that dominate the daily activities. They further point out that these barriers are predominant in rural areas where the majority of the population lives. Accordingly, the writers believe that the social structures in the country implies that while international and western feminist advances and movements ( for instance, the Belging declaration) may have played an important role in putting women on the political map, there still exists contextual issues at the local levels that needs to be addressed. It should be noted that the writers fail to come up with means and ways of addressing this contextual issues. The writers only acknowledge that there has been a significant progress among women in leadership position. However, there still remains a gap between actual practices and policy as women continues to be discriminated in the economy, politics, and household levels.
On the other hand, the authors of this book manage to examine the role of women’s organizations in Uganda. The writers claim that women’s organizations and movements in Uganda gained popularity in the mid-1980s, thus influencing various areas of life. These movements in Uganda have since been used as an example throughout Africa, and this has brought about the implementation of women rights. The book examines accomplishments and successes of the organizations from their establishment before independence to the current state of women in power. They explain further how joining politics have changed women’s legitimacy and effectiveness in policy- making matters.
The authors have brought out various themes which includes: contributions to education, especially for girls; the role of women during the colonial period in Uganda; the role of women in the Ugandan agricultural sector; the struggle for land ownership in Uganda; women’s participation in the economy and in business; the role of women in religion; the role of women in solving conflicts, and the role of women in the media sector. Women in Uganda began to organize themselves into groups before independence, which enabled them to work on their political rights. In early 1960, the Ugandan Council of Women approved a decision urging that the laws concerned with marriage, inheritance, and divorce should be modified, recorded, and publicized nationwide. This was the first step taken by a council of women towards enhancing customary and modern practices.
In Chapter three, the writers’ talks allege the connection between political competition and th...
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