If you are in a privileged position, support another woman – Candy Wekesa

By Phionah Nassanga

August 26 is Women’s Equality Day. It’s a day to celebrate the progress women have made and reflect on the obstacles they face in advocating for change, on a global scale. Women are confronted with violence, discrimination, stereotypes, the struggle for equal treatment in education and employment spaces.

Although it originates in the United States, where women gained the right to vote and decision-making in 1920, Women’s Equality Day is celebrated around the world to honor all women. that make a difference in society.

Today, higher education institutions are producing more female graduates, the percentage of women in the workforce has increased dramatically and more than ever, women are now the main sources of income. Women have held positions in the military, business, medicine, engineering, and law, among other professions.

Women’s Equality Day reminds us that we all have the opportunity – and the responsibility – to create a society that gives men and women the same voice and equal opportunities.

Is Uganda making progress on women’s equality?

Uganda is a flagship case in the region that has long demonstrated support for professional women. We were the first country to have a woman vice-president in the region and in the political landscape, women are well represented. But there is still a long way to go, especially now that many women are sexually harassed and many teenage pregnancies have been recorded due to Covid-19. With education on hold, even beyond the delays caused by school closures, the boy will come out with an opportunity still open. This will have a significant effect on the progress we have made so far. Today, we are still celebrating emerging pioneering women in various fields, and we should do so. However, we should now have gone beyond this initial stage and go further to create critical mass in these areas. Just as we are beneficiaries of the women who came before us, we also have a duty to pave the way for the women behind us.


In what ways can women advocate for equality?

Fortunately, we have a good representation of women in the public sector and in positions of authority who can influence the necessary political changes. One of the things that needs urgent attention is the fact that a girl has to drop out of school because she is giving birth to a life. These girls need to be supported and qualified because they have a life that depends on them. One of the areas that fascinates me is the need for girls to stay in school even after they become mothers, especially under duress. Second, we should embrace mentoring. Many women are reluctant to mentor their peers because they think they will outdo them and eventually take their positions. But it is doomed to failure. We must all strive to uplift our fellow citizens and create the necessary pipeline that will fill the available opportunities and trigger equality.

What progress on gender equality have you seen in your work?

When I graduated from law school there were a few women in private practice and the general feeling was that a female lawyer was not as well suited as her male counterparts. The qualifications you had did not necessarily make you a peer. I have met clients who ask to speak to a “real lawyer” because they thought I was either a clerk, a personal assistant or the person taking the coffee orders! Obviously, it was exhausting and demotivating having to continually explain to clients that I am in fact a lawyer. However, I hired my male colleagues at the law firm to give me the necessary introduction for clients to entrust me with their cases. It took about three years to get the profile of a qualified lawyer and along the way there was a lot of tea brewing and debriefing. Today, the landscape of private practice is different. There are many women associates in the chambers and many firms founded by women lawyers. This is progress and I firmly believe that this image is reproduced in other professions.

Women spend more time on the farm, plow the land, produce food for the family and the nation, but when it comes to property, the men take it all. How to change the status quo?

There is a deeply rooted cultural aspect to this issue and that is why the law alone will not resolve this issue. How to change culture? I don’t think there is a single answer, but if we engage in open conversations and deliberately educate our society about this injustice and the economic disadvantages of women and by extension the nation, we can start to turn the dial.

How to make equality a reality?

In addition to everything we do, we need our male counterparts on board. This partnership is essential because the idea is not to have a society dominated by women, but a society which offers equal opportunities to all.

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