On Tuesday 8th July, 2014 business at Mbale resort Hotel almost came to a hold as ACFODE a Women’s Rights organization, organized the Regional conference for women’s administrators. Held under the theme: “Women Breaking through and soaring the heights”, the convention attracted a total of over 200 women leaders in public administration positions including directors, heads of departments, head teachers, Women Members of Parliament and Gender focal persons from key line ministries and district leaders among others who all converged at Mbale Resort Hotel to discuss pertinent issues that impede women’s meaningful participation in public administration spaces. The conference also aimed at offering a dais 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.
At the conference women public administrators from the Eastern Uganda districts of Dokoro, Pader, Namutumba and Mbale among other neighboring districts shared experiences they go through in their execution of work in a predominantly male sector. Women leaders noted the luck of leadership, legislative and advocacy skills as some of the inadequacies they have which impede their active involvement and meaningful contribution in public administration spaces. Some confessed to have been marginalized in all community driven development processes, oppressed and discriminated against compared to their male counterparts whilst Sexual exploitation of women during recruitment is glaring in most of the communities, one participant noted. Through their initiatives “women public administrators Associations”, they also faced both financial and non financial resources to support their activities and yet with little resources they have, they have been able to register immense success.
At the conference, Ms Regina Bafaki, Acfode Executive Director said that the Regional conference for women public administrators sought to explore gender and its impact on the toil of women public administrators, as well as identify and address the challenges they face in their workplaces. “Women in administration need to learn about leadership to promote personal empowerment and advocacy to enhance their abilities to address gender inequality and promote the well being of all women” said Regina as she welcomed the guests and the First Lady Janet Kataha Museveni who was the chief guest to the conference. She added that the regional conference was another first of its kind engagement drawing women administrators from the fore mentioned districts in Eastern Uganda. “It is an honor for the women leaders to have you mama Janet to grace this event. As our guest of honor, we as women leaders are proud and have a great opportunity to learn from your experience in Karamoja. Regina remarked
The first Lady and also minister for Karamoja affairs Janet Kataha Museveni encouraged women at the conference to work hard and overcome the social cultural barriers that women go through. She also encouraged them to be more organized in groups for them to cause impact in whatever they do. She gave examples from Karamoja region where women groups have been heavily supported as a result of being organized in groups. She overwhelmingly thanked Acfode for inviting her to Mbale to preside over the occasion after a very long time of her stay in the region. She thanked Acfode for the continued and sustained contribution the organization has made to empower the women in Uganda.
She ended her speech by launching an online platform for women public administrators which is expected to empower women public administrators with skills in ICTs for enhanced information sharing among women public administrators. This initiative was born by Acfode and partners including WOUGNET to curb digital barriers women face in their quest for Information and communication technologies.
Shading more light on this particular concern was Ms Dorothy Akello, the Women of Uganda Network Director who noted that on average across the developing world, nearly 25 percent fewer women than men have access to the ICTs, and the gender gap soars to nearly 45 percent in sub-Saharan Africa. By 2015, 90% of all formal employment will require some degree of ICT knowledge. “Because women face barriers such as poverty, illiteracy, and discrimination when getting training and education, we are witnessing the rise of a second digital divide” She urged women public administrators to embrace Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to facilitate information sharing and overcoming barriers they experience.
The conference was supported by Diakonia and the Indian Women’s Association in Uganda.