Press release on Affirmative Action proposals to the Constitutional Amendments (June 2015)

1.0 Back ground
Uganda is a party to several international Human Rights frameworks that guarantee that women’s rights are human rights. The international and regional legal frameworks include: Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW); United Nations (UN) Chapter 7: “An election is not in compliance with International obligations and standards unless it includes the opportunity for full and equal participation of women as well as men” and; The United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 1325.
At the regional level, the Protocol on the African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights on the Rights of women in Africa (Maputo protocol); The African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance.
At the national level, a number of constitutional provisions provide for gender equality including: Article 21; Article 32; Article 33; Article 59 to mention but a few.
Whereas the guarantees exist and are promoted and upheld to some extent, there is evidence to demonstrate that there are still gaps in attaining gender equality.
2.0 Proposals on Affirmative Action for amendment
Current Provision on Affirmative Action
Article of 32 of the constitution provides that: Notwithstanding anything in this constitution, the state shall take affirmative action in favor of groups marginalized on the basis of gender, age, disability or any other reason created by history, tradition or custom for the purpose of redressing imbalances which exist against them.

Proposal
1. Amend article 71 by inserting a new clause (g) which reads:

Every political party shall adhere to Article 32 and Article 33 of the constitution in all its laws and regulations, guidelines, structures and operations in order abide by constitutional provisions on affirmative action and gender equality.

Alternative 1
2. Amend Article 32 of the constitution by providing for gender parity for women and men in elective politics. Make the constituency for men and women a district so that each district is represented in Parliament by one woman and one man in line with the African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Political Governance.

Alternative 2
3. Retain affirmative action for women by increasing funding to women MPs and women councilors to make it proportionate to their area of representation and re-demarcate constituencies according to the population size in line with Article 63 (3).

4. Any introduction of term limits should be for all elective positions in Uganda. Introduction of term limits for women MPs only is contrary to Article 21(2) of the constitution of Uganda.
Justification
Political parties are the primary mechanism through which women access elected office in a multiparty system of governance. The structures, policies, practices and values of political parties are patriarchal and therefore have a profound effect on the level of women’s participation that undermines their ability to reach or maintain leadership roles in political life.
Women only comprised 4 percent of those who contested for directly elected seats in the 2011 elections (Electoral Commission, 2010). This dismal percentage indicates that there is need for parties to invest time and resources to create gender parity in terms of the numbers of women who contest for positions of leadership on the party ticket particularly for the directly elected positions.
Nomination of male and female candidates by major parties
Of the six political parties currently represented in parliament, the figures from the EC for 238 seats for directly elected MPs who were nominated to contest in the 2011 election as follows;
Party Female Male
Conservative Party 1 6
Democratic Party 6 80
Forum for Democratic Change 4 184
Justice Forum 0 12
National Resistance Movement 9 228
Uganda People’s Congress 3 99
The figures at local council level with regard to nomination for the position of Chairperson and Directly elected councilor were even worse for women. Only DP and NRM presented female candidates for the position of district chairperson (1 and 3 respectively); with regard to the directly elected seat for district councilors DP presented 3 female candidates and 148 males; FDC 9presented 8 female candidates and 665 males, NRM presented 26 female candidates in comparison to 1,306 males and UPC presented 2 female candidates in comparison to 219 males. The other parties like PPP and UFA did not present any female candidates.
Justification Article 33 (1) of the constitution provides that men and women shall be accorded equal dignity with men. In addition, the African Charter on Democracy, Governance and Elections provides for gender parity. If gender parity is adopted as the form of representation for men and women in politics it will reduce the size of Parliament from the current 375 to 224 and reduce the cost of administrative costs of running government.
4.0 Conclusion
The policy of affirmative action has contributed significantly to the reduction of the historical imbalance between men and women in elective politics6. The effectiveness of the affirmative action in politics is also evidenced by the Increased Articulation of Women’s Issues in Parliament entrenchment of Gender Equality in the Constitution and the effective Participation of Women MPs in Parliamentary Committees among others. However, some of the challenges faced by include; multiple gender roles; limited access to resources, a larger electoral area for women, and a weak institutional framework for monitoring the implementation of affirmative action strategies among others