By: Grace Abaho
According to Wikipedia, as of January 2017, the global participation rate of women in national-level parliaments is 23.3%. A number of countries are exploring measures that may increase women’s participation in government at all levels, from the local to the national. The irony and most hurting fact is though, Gender equality is generally well understood in the rural communities but women continue to be viewed as housekeepers and caregivers but not as leaders and the result is that men are given more respect than women and this principle is also applied to politics. This can be better understood if we employ the human capabilities approach; an approach in which Amartya Sen brings together a range of ideas that were previously excluded from (or inadequately formulated in) traditional approaches to the economics of welfare. The core focus of the capability approach is on what individuals are able to do (i.e., capable of).
The morning was full of vigor and utmost attention as the panelists held an interesting discussion with the youth on a ‘women- in- politics’ centered discussion. The Youth leaders from the East African block led the discussions sharing their personal experiences that inspired the youth a great deal. Hon Upendo Peneza of Tanzania, Hon Sarah Babirye Kityo of Uganda and Freda of Kenya among others had an interesting dialogue with the participants. Hon Sarah Kityo
Hon Upendo Upenza of Tanzania told the participants her resounding personal experience of joining politics at the age of 19, a thing she has never regretted. She called upon the youth not to shy away from exercising their inalienable right—of owning their voice. She also added that as a means of walking the talk, she makes sure to reach out to very many youth in her constituency. Her message was taken with great admiration and the youth in attendance vowed to do better than they have done in the past.
Freda, a panelist from Kenya shared her story on when, why and how she got into Politics; a very touching and inspiring story. She became a mother at the age of sixteen and was disowned by her mother because of that. She decided to get into business selling onions—in order to raise herself tuition to continue with her education and finally get into politics— just to make sure she gets her daughter (and people in vulnerable positions like her own) a life way better than the one she had herself. She told a story of how she was into the nomination process with an 88 year old man whom the party wanted to give a free pass—a nomination certificate that would see him through without having to go through a sincere and free nomination process—but because of her enthusiasm, she was able to push it further.
The most overriding thing in her story is that no matter the effort to make it impossible to run, she made it. Yes, she opted to go into the court room to overturn her opponent’s illegal nomination but it was worth it. It shows in so many ways how resilience and fighting for what youth believe in can bring forth results often seen as impossible.
Hon Sarah Kityo took a very honest hit on the old women members of parliament still don’t look out associating themselves with the needs and realities of the young ones. Sarah noted with concern, “ See these old women parliamentarians, they don’t do much; a lot of pressure gets mounted on us the youth representatives but in earnest, the older women parliamentarians don’t want to pass on the baton.” This is true, a case study in Uganda.
To wrap it up, Africa Youth Trust put it, “look forward to a future where young women will be adequately represented in decision-making positions, a future where young women are actively involved in defining their interests; and ultimately a future where young women’s’ needs will be taken into account in policy formulation and implementation.”