THE year 2010 began with a political showdown on the side of women, especially those in the opposition. On January 18, the Police arrested 33 women from the Inter-party cooperation (IPC) who had stormed the Electoral Commission (EC) offices demanding the resignation of commission chairman Eng. Badru Kiggundu and his team.
Clad in black T-shirts with inscriptions 'IPC Woman' and 'Women for Peace', the women entered the EC offices one by one only to regroup later forcing the Police to swing into action.
Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) spokesperson Wafula Oguttu said: "The ladies had gone to the EC to deliver a letter to Eng. Badru Kiggundu asking him to resign, for he is incompetent."
The Police deployed sniffer dogs that forced some of the women to take off for their dear lives. However, some stayed behind and were arrested, and taken to the Central Police Station and Jinja Road Police Station. Led by FDC's Ingrid Turinawe, the women were charged at Buganda Road Court with holding an illegal demonstration. You could call it an achievement.
Women and ICT
As the year entered a second month, better news trickled in. Ugandan women got a ray of hope from women academics across Africa who released a book in which they give advice to fellow women on how to use information and communication technology (ICTs) to fight violence. In their book; African Women and ICTs, the authors from 11 African countries argue that gender roles perpetuate the imbalances in favour of men.
In March, more good news was in stock as 41-year-old Jane Naluwayiro was voted Woman Achiever of the year 2010. She received a cash prize of sh5m courtesy of New Vision and dfcu Bank.
Naluwayiro started growing pineapples in 1991, which she transformed into an exporting project, located in Bukolooto parish, Kayunga district. She added value to the pineapples and has since widened her scope to many other fruits and vegetables.
Naluwayiro won the sixth edition of the award for her ability to add value to her products and share information with others in line with this year's project theme.
In the same month, women woke up to the news of contraceptive stock-outs across the country. With Uganda's fertility rate at 6.7, this created panic as many women were at risk of unwanted pregnancies which could force them to abort the pregnancies.
Since abortion is illegal in Uganda, most of the women who go for it end up having unsafe abortion - by either unqualified personnel or in unsafe environments. According to the Uganda Demographic and Health Survey 2006, there are 297,000 abortions induced in Uganda annually.
Fast forward in November, women activists allover Africa converged in Accra, Ghana, to find ways in which they can eliminate unsafe abortion.
They argued that legalising safe abortion on top of increasing access to contraceptives were the sure ways of reducing maternal mortality, which stands at 435 per 100,000 live births in Uganda.
Earlier, on June 11, prominent FDC politician Anne Mugisa had returned to Uganda, nine years after she fled into exile in the US.
The 45-year-old politician is now in the country to participate into active politics. Mugisha who first expressed her intentions to stand for the Nakawa constituency seat has changed her mind and she will now stand in Mbarara, her home area. She confessed that many things have changed.
Perhaps, one the things that have changed for Mugisa was an implausible show of courage by Agnes Awor, who at 58 is determined to complete primary school. The widow and mother of six enrolled at Makaur Primary School in Kisoko sub-county, Tororo district. New Vision sought out Awor, a resident of Pei-Pei village in November. Awor, who started in P.1, emerging among the top 10 in her class every term, is now in P.4.
Another thing that changed and this time within her party was seeing veteran politician and party die-hard Beti Kamya abandon FDC.
Kamya fell out with top leaders of FDC and with time she started developing the idea to stand for presidency, and indeed she is the only woman presidential aspirant against seven men.
Her entry into the race came slowly but surely; soon after she formed the Uganda Federal Alliance, a party hinged on the federalism system of governance.
Female genital mutilation (FGM)
As the year ends, female genital mutilation has reared its head again. Much as Parliament passed a bill banning FGM in 2009, women and girls have continued to carry out the traditional practice.
As activists fought to preserve the rights of Sabiny girls against genital mutilation, the girls claimed it was their right and crossed to neighbouring Kenya to have their private parts mutilated.
The law says once convicted, offenders face 10 years in prison, and if a girl dies during the act, those involved get a life sentence. Indeed, the girls and the mutilators were arrested. Upon conviction, a mutilator was only sentenced to four months in jail. Besides, the girls' willingness to go for mutilation defeats the cause for the fight against FGM.