Women’s representation and capacity to influence decisions in local governments: the case of Kampala District
MetadataShow full item record
Women’s representation and their capacity to influence decisions in Local Governments have proved to be a very big challenge to all persons, particularly, in Uganda and the world over in general. The Local Councils (formerly Resistance Councils) were intended to be democratic political mechanisms, especially at grassroots level. This would enable women (like men) participate in the transformation of their local politics. Indeed women constitute at least half the population and it should therefore be pertinent that they are represented proportionally. Their rights to full citizenship must be reflected in their effective participation at the various levels of politics. There cannot be true democracy where women are virtually excluded from positions of power. This study therefore sought to examine the extent to which Local Councils have politically empowered women in Uganda. It focused on the aspect of women’s representation and their capacity to influence decisions in Local Governments, which in one way or the other influences government policy. The research was carried out in Kampala District in Uganda, which district was randomly selected. The study combined both the qualitative and quantitative methods of data collection. That is, besides the in-depth interviews with informants who were purposively selected, a formal questionnaire was administered to a sample of respondents, here, selected using the systematic random selection method. The quantitative data was analysed in the computer to provide the percentages and frequencies. The major method of analysis for the in-depth interviews was content analysis – here the responses were not noted verbatim but paraphrased by the researcher. A statistical survey method of research was employed to Kampala District Local Governments (III, II, & I) because it is an efficient way of collecting information from a large number of respondents. The main objective of the study was to ascertain the extent to which the increased representation of women on Local Councils had translated into their capacity to influence policy decisions and eventually attain their political empowerment. A total of 100 respondents were selected using a multi-stage cluster sampling technique though only 90 of them responded to the open-ended questionnaires. Findings indicated that most of the respondents were men. The majority of the respondents fall between the ages of 18 and 35 years, and 60% of the Local Council committee members were single. The findings further showed that most of the respondents were O’Level holders. Women were found to be rather active in the policy decision-making exercise of their country. This was implicated when 86.6% of the respondents said that women were able to influence and cause change to already made decisions. They also revealed that affirmative action had done better the political lives of women and that the intentions of establishing Local Councils had been realised. Final analysis – to some extent – portrays an increase in women’s representation in Local Governments in Kampala District and also portrays a picture that women are politically empowered. This is because they have been seen to be able to influence policy decisions with less difficulty much as there is still a lot to do with their levels of education and hence competence. Women activists should think of better ways of addressing imbalances created by history. They should devise methods of choosing women representatives instead of just adopting the established order that encourages the choosing of the rich who do not necessarily represent women’s issues. Not only that, a similar research should be done in a rural setting, which might perhaps give a different depiction because the degrees of women’s participation are likely to vary depending on the status quo.