Recently, Uganda made history when the 9th Parliament overwhelmingly supported Hon. Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga's bid for Speaker and elected her to become the first Ugandan woman to occupy the position of Speaker of Parliament. Present to witness this historical moment were women activists and women organisations such as Forum for Women in Democracy, who work tirelessly to increase the numbers, impact and visibility of women in politics in Uganda.
When the Chief Justice announced her as the candidate with the highest votes, the House was elated as Members of Parliament congratulated Kadaga on this remarkable achievement. This is not only a victory for Kadaga, but for all Ugandans, especially women.
Indeed, Kadaga has broken the barriers to women's participation in leadership and her victory was viewed as indication of the trust that the Members of Parliament have in her capabilities and competence. Patricia Munabi Babiiha, the Executive Director, Forum for Women in Democracy, stated how glad she and her delegation were for having been part of this historic moment; now that Uganda has a woman occupying the 3rd most important office in Uganda. Kadaga's determination is commendable and a display of confidence which is an inspiration to many young women.
Kadaga now joins her peers in countries such as Rwanda, Botswana, Ghana, Gambia and Tanzania who have occupied this position. She has overcome the stereotype of the deputising syndrome of women in leadership, which is common in Uganda.
Having Kadaga, a woman known for her inclusive and effective leadership in legislative processes and strong advocacy of gender-inclusive policies and programmes, occupying such a high-ranking office is of great significance to Uganda and specifically, the women.
It is believed that with Kadaga as Speaker, Uganda might achieve the much-desired enhanced integration of critical gender issues into laws, policies, budgets and legislative debates considering her past contributions to women's empowerment, including her ardent support for improved gender budgeting in Uganda, her involvement in the national campaigns on raising awareness on cervical and breast cancer, ending female genital mutilation and many others.
She has served on various leadership positions including leader of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians in Africa, Secretary General of East African Women Parliamentarians Association, and current Chair of the Uganda Women Parliamentarians Association.
In her acceptance remarks, Kadaga mentioned value for money, transparency, accountability and good governance as the priority areas for the 9th Parliament. Our hope is that now that she has been elected Speaker, Hon. Kadaga will continue steering the gender agenda and that with the objectivity and impartiality she has promised, she will champion development in Uganda as a nation.