Uganda today stands at critical cross road in 50 years of her independence. While the just concluded 2011 general Elections are gone, there is still considerable dissension and dissatisfaction within political parties reflecting on unresolved tensions in transition to a multi-party dispensation. The large populace is pathetic, and disgruntled. Issues such as the creation of new districts, the discovery and planned exploration of oil, the increasing concentration of presidential power in one person and one region and the long standing debate on federalism raise numerous questions about the direction to which our country is heading. In addition, although the return to multi-party politics was received with a lot of excitement, no much preparation or understanding was undertaken or displayed by the wider public or the constitutionally mandated bodies which did not prepare the public for the new system of governance. Similarly, the representation of the youth and reflection of their interest in political and leadership spheres is far from satisfactory despite the fact that current demographics show that Uganda is an extremely young country in international comparisons. Despite a lot of promising and encouraging rhetoric during campaigns in the 2011 general elections, the practical involvement of the youth is rather low. Political debates are often focused on personalities, party competition, tactical and other considerations instead of focusing on substantial issues and programmatic alternatives.
Many discussions about policy issues and leadership are dominated by a purely confrontational, not constructive interaction between political actors. Furthermore, political parties and other groups and organizations in society are widely failing to clearly articulate the interests of the population.
In light of the above concerns, Young people especially young women continue to be marginalized in the domestic and public level decision-making processes. Furthermore, the existing governance structures as earlier on pointed out are highly patriarchal and influencing public policy especially from a gender perspective has become a daunting task for the women legislators. In such an environment, many have internalized male norms and values and have not advanced the gender equality agenda. Take for stance Violence against women in Uganda continues to be widespread and socially tolerated despite the fact that it’s a human rights violation. Violence Against women disempowers and negatively affects women’s health and productivity often resulting into death. In addition, the cost to women, their children, families and communities is a significant obstacle to reducing poverty, achieving gender equality and ensuring a peaceful transition for post-conflict societies.
Thus I believe that in order to address deeply embedded issues of patriarchy and other leadership challenges Uganda is experiencing today, a new generation of young women and men need to be trained to identify and address gender needs in their respective communities. In addition, the youth also need to be nurtured into a new generation of leaders who naturally subscribe to principles of gender equality and social justice. These changed agents of young people would help in influencing the rigid structures that have existed in the country for so long.