Official Launch of the African Women Leader Network in Uganda: Women leaders using their offices to empower other women

On February 28, 2020, over 3000 women turned up for the launch of the African Women Leaders Network (AWLN) Uganda Chapter. The event took place at Sheraton Hotel Kampala and was presided over by the Speaker of Parliament Rt. Hon. Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga, and graced by the African Union Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security Ms. Bineta Diop. Dignitaries from the United Nations, Ambassadors, government officials, civil society, private sector and academia members, including women leaders across Africa were also in attendance.

Date: Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Women activists with the RCO and speaker
Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga (front: fourth from left) African Union Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security, Ms. Bineta Biop(front: fifth from left), UN Resident Coordinator, Ms. Rosa Malango (front: sixth from left) and Uganda's Ambassador to African Union, Ms. Rebecca Otengo (front: seventh from left), pose for a photo with the members of AWLN Uganda Chapter. Photo: UN Women/Aidah Nanyonjo

Running on the theme, “Ugandan Women: Widening our Space in Leadership” its aim is to enhance the leadership of women in the transformation of Africa, in line with Africa Agenda 2063 and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.

SPEAKER WELCOMED at awln Photo by UNWomen
The African Union Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security, Ms. Bineta Diop (front: first from left) welcomes the Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga (front: second from left) at the launch of AWLN Uganda Chapter. Looking on is Leader of Opposition Hon. Betty Aol (front: third from left) and the UN Resident Coordinator, Ms. Rosa Malango (front: fourth from left). Photo: UN Women/Aidah Nanyonjo

In her speech, the Speaker of Parliament, Rt. Hon Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga commended the Government of Uganda for the progress it has made in involving women in leadership. “In Parliament, we [women] are at 32 percent, in Local Government it is over 40 percent, while in the cabinet we [women] are still at 22 percent. That is good progress,” she said.She urged women in leadership positions to use their offices to empower other women. She said women were still faced with discrimination in all spheres of life, citing an incident at Parliament where two female police officers were withdrawn from work because they were pregnant“I directed the Inspector General of Police to bring them back. If it was not me in that position, I am sure they would have gone. We need to keep looking out for different issues,” she said.

The Leader of the Opposition in Parliament (LoP), Hon. Betty AolOcan, asked women leaders not to give up on taking up leadership positions due to being discouraged and the fear of making mistakes. She shared her own experience, when she became the LoPand negative comments were flung her way, but these did not deter her.“I am the second female LoP but it was not very easy for me to go to that office. That is why I have to tell you women, to always stand strongeven when you make mistakes, do not give up, keep moving,” she said.

AWLN dignitaries and UN heads of agencies at the launch
From L-Head of the European Union (EUdelegation to Uganda, Ambassador Attilio Pacifici; UN Women Deputy Country Representative to Uganda, Ms. Adekemi NdieliOHCHR- African Union Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security Ms.Aminata Kebe; UNICEF Uganda Country Representative, Ms. Bineta Biop; Doreen Mulenga; Dr. Elizabeth Mary Okelo from Kenya and the Irish Ambassador, H.E. William Carlos, pose for a photo at the launch of AWLN Uganda Chapter. Photo: UN Women, Aidah/Nanyonjo

UN Resident Coordinator, Ms. Rosa Malango saluted gender activists for their role in the development of the Constitution of Uganda and their contribution to a peaceful Uganda. The Executive Director Uganda Women’s Network, Ms. Rita Hope Acirosaid the platform is a collective action towards addressing the structural barriers that have continued to affect women in leadership since time immemorial. “Women around the world have been affected by leadership, economically, politically and socially. This is the reason why we are calling for collective action as opposed to individualism. Together we look up to planet 50/50 as women of Africa,” She saidThe UN Women Deputy Country Representative to Uganda, Ms. Adekemi Ndieli underscored the significance of the platform, to bring together women from all walks of life who are passionate about leadership.  “We are all aware of the challenges facing women in Uganda and globally. As we embark on this great journey, we must pledge that no one will be left behind. This is the time to arise to action and we can only do it together." With support from the office of the African Union Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security and the Federal Government of Germany, Adekemi pledged continued support of UN Women in empowering AWLN.