Draft Communiqué Women in Politics Conference – July 22-23, 2014

We, the participants gathered in Kampala, Uganda on the occasion of the National Women in Politics Conference held on the 22-23rd July 2014, organized by the Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE);

Having come together in the spirit of sisterhood and guided by our common agenda of promoting women in politics and leadership as a fundamental non- negotiable right;
Affirming that democracy without women’s equal participation is flawed and observing that multiple challenges continue to limit women’s equal participation in leadership including institutional bias; stereotyping; historical imbalances, poor political party internal democracy; weak electoral laws; gender based violence targeting women; high poverty levels; lack of sufficient resources to run successful political campaigns;

Recognising that politics and political campaigns in Uganda continue to be highly monetized, leading to high levels of corruption and unethical practices, and additionally serving as a barrier to women’s participation;10557704_508048622658534_8434097677516446441_o

Appreciating the trends set by the AU on Gender Parity a standard to which Uganda should aspire and acknowledging the commendable steps measures and actions at national and local level by the Government of Uganda; Civil Society Organizations; Development Partners; Political Parties and Citizens to promote women in politics and leadership;

Commending women leaders and politicians past and present for their courage, and tenacity and for daring to beat the path so that their daughters will see a better day;

Noting the important role that government, political parties, private sector and civil society can play in the realization of the goal of achieving gender equality in decision-making positions;

Further recognizing that women play a unique role in decision making and that their participation will make a qualitative difference to governance in our countries;

Aware that despite the progress made to date, major structural and systemic challenges still remain for women’s full effective participation in multiparty politics and public office in all spheres economic, social, legal and cultural.

Recognising that we each have a role to play within our respective roles and mandates, we as different actors within the Women’s movement, therefore commit to a core set of principles and operational actions that will strengthen our collective efforts to promote women’s equitable participation in decision making.

Women in Politics commit to:
1. Sensitizing women in leadership about the Women’s Agenda.

2. Undertaking various actions aimed at supporting and enhancing women’s leadership and effective participation.

3. Creating a women’s lobby group to advocate and push for women’s representation and particularly with regards to the institution of affirmative action for both political and public office.

4. Maintain and strengthen linkages with the broader Women’s Movement in order to collectively push for the Women’s agenda.

Women in Public Service commit to:

1. Creating mechanisms through which younger and upcoming female leaders can benefit from leadership training, capacity building and mentorship to increase their ability to access leadership positions and engage effectively.

2. Advocating for the institution of gender mainstreaming practices in all institutions.

3. Developing an issues paper on the effects of the GMO on women.

Women in the Media commit to:

1. Decampaign the negative portrayal and depiction of women leaders in the media

2. Contributing to the dismantling of negative social norms and practices that demean through sensitization of the public

3. Ensuring equal and fair coverage on gender issues and women in politics

4. Publicising the Women’s Agenda.

The Young Women commit to:

• Encouraging the formation of economic co-operatives to empower young women economically as a basis for sustainable political engagement as well as ensuring young women have enough resources to finance their participation
• Putting in place programmes that encourage a transition of women from the private space to the public sphere and eventually political leadership
• Creating fora for intergenerational learning and exchanges
• Strengthening publicity on the women’s agenda through social media so that society can learn and engage more with the different issues raised
• Enabling the participation of Young Women in election processes
Women in Civil Society commit to:

1. Maintaining advocacy efforts against laws and policies that disempower and disenfranchise women.

2. Review the Women’s agenda and building synergies around its implementation.

3. Conduct continuous non-partisan civic education targeting civic women groups from the village to national level on civic rights and responsibilities.

Women in Cultural Institutions commit to:
1. Identifying potential women leaders and lobbying for their inclusion in leadership positions in cultural institutions
2. Documenting and disseminating customary practices that advance and protect the rights of women.
3. Undertaking research and campaign around democratizing the family unit as the basic unit of society

Women in the Private Sector commit to:
1. Identifying institutions that support women in business/ private sector so that we can promote women’s economic empowerment through business skills training and enterprise development.
2. Create a forum for Women in the Private sector that brings together women in the private sector and advocates for their representation and leadership in private sector institutions.
3. Engage Parliamentarians and Institutions on policy issues that promote women’s economic empowerment.

We also call upon the Government of the Republic of Uganda to promote women’s leadership and political participation by:

1. Aligning legal/policy and institutional mechanisms with international and regional principles and standards of democracy, in particular those supporting gender parity (50:50) in all positions of leadership like: CEDAW: Beijing Platform for Action; AU Charter; African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (The Women’s Protocol / Maputo Protocol);
2. Ensuring that electoral processes are reformed with a view to levelling the playing field for women to effectively participate in all stages of the electoral cycle, including through affirmative action initiatives within the law and targeting both elective and appointive positions;
3. Creating and ensure a conducive political environment at national and local levels for both men and women’s participation in the democratic processes by promoting a culture of peace; tolerance, co-existence and democracy, and securing a level playing field that is free from any form of discrimination, threats, violence, fear and intimidation;
4. Apprehend, adjudicate and subject all perpetrators of politically related violence to appropriate punishment according to the law, including those engaged in violence instigated by state or private security agents against political opponents;
5. Taking corrective measures to discourage the practice of corruption and monetization of politics that discourage free competition and election of representatives on the basis of merit
6. Taking corrective measures and affirmative action to address the gaps and obstacles that hinder women’s equal and full participation in political leadership and other leadership positions in the public sector focusing attention to the need to overcome social norms, prejudices; stereotypes and practices that negatively portray women in political leadership;
7. Conducting continuous civic education that consolidates the knowledge and appreciation of democracy, good governance, multiparty politics and political awareness