Former Ugandan Vice President Dr. Speciosa Wandira-Kazibwe told Somali Women Parliamentarians that issues of women are the same irrespective of whichever tribe they originate from.
She was opening a workshop organized to build the capacity of Somali women legislators at the Hotel Africana in Kampala. The Workshop organized by the European Parliamentarians with Africa (UWEPA) runs up to the 17th and will be addressed by various Ugandan women legislators who will share their experiences on a wide range of issues.
In her opening remarks, Wandira-Kazibwe shared the experiences of Ugandan women MPs right from the time of the National Resistance Council, particularly the tricks used then by male legislators to distract their female counterparts in Parliament. She observed that men often commented on women’s beauty, dress code and physiology, and based on such biases to decide who and who not to listen to.
Dr. Wandira-Kazibwe told the legislators that in a bid to counter the above biases and to strengthen the capacity of women overall, a series of workshops were organized to help Ugandan women MPs to clearly understand who they are, and how best they could emerge successful.
Among topics that women were coached about, included understanding who we are. This covered women’s physiology, biological concerns and how they influence their performance. “Most women were relatively young and we had to teach them for example about getting along with the period of the “moon”. Women still visiting the moon, experience fluctuating hormones and smell different even if they use a strong perfume- and this distracts the men. Once they understand it, they use it to distract the women.”
Women MPs also advocated for facilities to enable women and ensure cleanliness while at parliament, for example a place to brush their teeth and also do their make-up. This, considering the long hours they sometimes have to spend at Parliament.
During trainings, talents of individual MPs were identified and they were later supported accordingly- some were good at lobbying, talking, research, and others at watching who is good at distracting discussions. Women MPs were also encouraged to make good use of other talented women outside Parliament in view of enhancing their skills in different aspects. Dr. Wandira-Kazibwe noted that women ‘out there’ expect their representatives to answer questions on everything, and as such, the MPs must be jacks of all trade.
She also observed that women MPs should never sit back and expect their male counterparts to attend to their concerns. “We realized that the priorities of women and men differed and so too did the methods of work. We were talking of consensus but this was not a thing for men. We realized that the method of men was to divide women based on their womanhood-issues that made women inferior contrary to critical issues that mattered to move the nation forward,” she said. Therefore she urged that women must be present at every opportunity alongside the men in order to make their voices heard, urging that no society can effectively develop without the input of women.
During the same workshop, the Chairperson of the Uganda Women Parliamentary Association , Betty Amongi, welcomed the Somali women legislators to Uganda and said the workshop was aimed at empowering them to effectively participate in political developments. She expressed sincere condolences for the Somali woman MP Sado Ali Warsame who was killed recently by the Al-Shabaab militia.