KAMPALA – The Alliance for National Transformation (ANT) on Thursday handed over leadership of the Inter-Party Women Platform in Uganda (IWOP) to their Democratic Party (DP) counterparts.
IWOP is a platform aimed at enabling women from all registered political parties in Uganda to have a common voice on issues that affect their participation in political parties and politics in Uganda.
The platform, which initially comprised women from nine registered political parties in Uganda including; the Alliance for National Transformation (ANT), Democratic Party (DP), Ecological Party of Uganda (EPU), Forum for Democratic Change (FDC), Justice Forum (JEEMA), National Resistance Movement (NRM), Peoples’ Progressive Party (PPP), Uganda Federal Alliance (UFA) and the Uganda Peoples’ Congress (UPC), also welcomed the tenth member – Conservative Party.
Ambassador Edith Sempala – the Outgoing IWOP chairperson noted that “We are very excited because this is unusual, especially in Uganda.”
According to her, any registered political party in Uganda with a physical location and a functional women’s league is eligible to join IWOP – a platform for women to dialogue, support each other, share information create space for capacity building, leadership development to increase women’s participation in politics, build consensus, network and have collective advocacy around issues that affect women of Uganda.
“Through IWOP, the collective potential of women in political parties can be harnessed to contribute to peace, unit, and sustainable development at national, regional and even international levels by working together to address issues of common concern for women across the political divide,” she said while handing over powers at ANT head offices in Kampala.
Aisha Waliggo – the incoming chairperson who doubles as DP Women League President asked her colleagues not to be discouraged by numbers but to keep focused on their objectives.
“Our role is advocacy. We are calling upon all Ugandans outside there to believe that Uganda can have a peaceful transfer of power. Today we have handed over but the journey still continues and we must continue with the advocacy because, at the end of the day, we (women) are 52%. We must realize 52% in everything, it must be mainstreamed but even the quality of what we do is very critical.”
“We continue to pledge to work together as women of Uganda for the good of the women’s fraternity.”
Alice Alaso – the founding member of the Alliance for National Transformation noted that “while we are happy that we handing over IWOP, we know the journey is very long, the times are very challenging. The strength of IWOP is going to be the aggregate strength of the different women’s leagues.”
She appealed to all the Secretary Generals – to do everything within their powers to facilitate the women leagues to grow.
“When you have a strong women’s league within your party and then it brings that strength into IWOP, the rest of women’s leagues will also learn and the bigger organization even becomes stronger.”
According to her, there is a very big challenge politically and IWOP ought to keep its eyes on the challenges that women face.
“The political space in this country is narrowing by the day. You can see this from the harassment on the media, the narrow space in Parliament, and the human rights situation. A woman beaten in any political party is a Ugandan woman. There has to be a detoxification of the political environment. As long as this environment continues to be extremely risky, and very toxic, the typical Ugandan woman will become very shy.”
Launched on March 2, 2023, IWOP sees its leadership change in a period of only six months in alphabetical order.
The IWOP further seeks to enable women leaders to lay strategies and advocate for changes to enhance the participation of women in political parties and politics in Uganda.
During the launch, Mr. Francis Rogers, Resident Country Director, International Republican Institute (IRI) as an enabling partner noted that much as it is important to have different political ideologies, it’s also more important to understand the common denominator which is the country.
“A woman has a strong voice and a group of women, I will say has a thunderous voice.”
“This platform does not undermine any political party or women’s group but it brings women together to address issues affecting women in Uganda regardless of the different ideologies.”
Mr. Francis challenged the women to utilize their platform for their voices to be heard in the high places.
“You should understand the power that you have so that you are able to bring the transformation you desire, and you can demand it by a collective force.”
“I’m very much optimistic that women of this country or women in this group will turn the tables around. People will reach out to places where there are issues and they will be able to amplify their voices and those issues will be addressed,” he said.