UGANDA: Ugandans No Longer Believe that Women Are Inferior (Opinion)

Monday, October 11, 2010
Daily Monitor Blogs
Eastern Africa
PeaceWomen Consolidated Themes: 

Ms Beti Namisango Kamya, the Uganda Federal Alliance boss, is using the axiom, “Uganda is ready for a woman President” to drive her campaign for the presidency in 2011.

Personally, I think it is sexist of her to make that claim, because Uganda has always been ready for a competent president – man or woman.

Ms Kamya knows that Ugandans have long abandoned the belief that the female or male gender is inferior to or more competent than the other. Over the past decades, women have beaten men in elections at all levels.

Despite the affirmative action policy, there are several women in Parliament today – including Kamya herself – who stood with men in elections and beat them hands down. Now, was Kamya elected because the people of Rubaga North were ready for a woman MP?

Also, Kamya knows that there are many women in Uganda who are holding (and excelling) in very high offices in various sectors purely on merit and not because they are women.

She also knows that Uganda was one of the first countries in Africa to have a female vice president in Ms Specioza Wandira Kazibwe and a female deputy Speaker of Parliament in Ms Rebecca Kadaga.

These distinguished women have done a splendid job but their performance had nothing to do with Uganda's “readiness” for a woman in those positions. I contend that Uganda has always been ready and will always be ready for competent and able leaders regardless of their gender.

Over the decades, women have distinguished themselves as great politicians in various countries around the globe. Latvia, the Philippines, Ireland, Finland, Costa Rica, Chile and Liberia among others, have all had female presidents. Germany has a woman as chancellor, Golda Meir was a successful Prime Minister in Israel as was Indira Gandhi in India and Benazir Bhutto in Pakistan.

Over the past five decades, more than 50 women have been elected as Heads of State, most of them chosen not because they were women, but because they were deemed by the electorate as the most qualified for the job among all the candidates on offer.

The best example among the modern women leaders is Ms Margaret Thatcher – probably Britain's greatest Prime Minister in recent times. She became the Conservative Member of Parliament for Finchley in 1959 at the age of 24 years. She joined the Cabinet as Education Secretary in 1970, after more than a decade in the House of Commons.

‘The Iron Lady' was elected the first female Prime Minister of Britain at the age of 53. She made history by successfully leading the country to war against Argentina in the Falkland Islands.

Ms Kamya has probably been inspired by these gallant women to stand for president. However, I think it is an insult to them for her to insinuate that she should be considered by the electorate purely because she is a woman.

I think what she should be doing now is to show us her track record, her credentials and what she has achieved for Uganda. She must convince the voters that Uganda is indeed ready, not for a woman president, but for Beti Kamya as president.

In 2011 if she doesn't win, it won't be because Ms Kamya is a woman.

The Ugandan voters have matured and are now looking for able leaders who will foster national unity, propose solutions to the numerous socio-economic challenges that bedevil our country today and drive the country forward.