Although the number of women in leadership positions continues to burgeon as a result of gender responsive laws and policies the country has enacted, women in Uganda continue to be marginalized in both domestic and public level decision-making processes. Current statistics on female employment rates in the public sectors for instance do clearly indicate how women are concentrated at the lowest labor hierarchy as secretaries, nurses and class room teachers particularly for lower classes. Whist the legal, policy and administrative frameworks for women’s public participation exist in the country today, the ratio of women to men in senior and top level managerial positions is glaring and does not reflect the population vein of 51% women. This is largely influenced by existing governance structures with quasi leaders in concrete embodiments of political influence; a highly patriarchal social setting which makes it difficult to influence public policy especially from a gender perspective by women legislators today. The patriarchal settings of most institutions in the country do not view women as capable leaders but rather as “kitchen” attendants.

10299968_669860493049727_6088699586053249635_nAs a result of this, many women especially those in public administration sectors have continued to face enormous challenges but not limited to gender stereotyping, women’s own low self esteem, lack of mentors from whom to learn and get inspired, limited negotiation, lobbying and advocacy skills and public speaking as well as insufficient mechanisms at all levels to promote the advancement of the women’s agenda. All these challenges and constraints greatly impede the effective performance of women in administration leaving many to lag behind in comparison to their male counterparts and while as many join politics and other leadership circles, they luck the necessary skills and training resulting in their low efficiency in leadership spheres.

It against the above backdrop that Action for Development (ACFODE) a women’s interest organization will on Tuesday July 8, 2014, hold a Regional Conference for Women Public Administrators from the Eastern and Northern region districts of Namutumba, Dokolo and Pader to discuss pertinent issues that impede effective participation of women in public administration sectors. Organized under theme “Women Breaking through and soaring the heights”, this maiden forum is expected to attract a total of over 200 women in public administration positions including directors, heads of departments, head teachers and Gender focal persons from key line ministries who will converge at Mbale Resort Hotel to discuss specific challenges that women in such spaces faces as well as propose strategies to mitigate such challenges. The conference also aims at offering a podium to build synergies among women leaders and get inspired to play an active and visible role in advocacy, community transformation and programme implementation within their localities. 10499457_695303003838809_8795676580497840875_o

It is expected that after the conference, there shall be renewed commitment and Strengthened collaboration amongst the women forums from the different districts of Dokolo, Pader and Namutumba for increased networking opportunities, participation and representation of women in public administration and institutions.

The conference also builds on progress registered by the different interventions that the organization has made to enhance women’s leadership in public administration and institutions under the Building and Amplifying Women’s Voices in Economic and Political Development Project. Through this initiative, ACFODE has conducted several dialogues with women in public administration and institutions in order to build and enhance their capacities to effectively contribute and exercise their right to participation in public policy and decision making processes. This has provided them with a unique platform to discuss fervent topics such as strategic positioning, aspiring for excellence, use of social media and leaving legacies amongst other topics. As a result of these engagements, the women leaders now report to have begun to impact their work spaces and those they interact with through influencing programmes, budget allocations, employment placements and mentoring others.

Action for Development (ACFODE) is an indigenous, voluntary, non partisan, non governmental women’s interest organization that was formed on November 19, 1985. Its founders were motivated by the desire to spearhead gender advocacy. In this regard ACFODE envisions a just society where gender equality is a reality. The organization’s mission is to empower women and influence legislation and policy for gender equality in Uganda and its core purpose is advocacy for gender equality and equity.

By Kaviri Ali

Ali is a Youth Leader and activist