International Charity Organisation Oxfam has appealed to President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni to provide leadership on gender issues. Lydia Zigomo, the Regional Director for the Horn, East and Central Africa at Oxfam, says political leadership is key in efforts towards gender equality.
According to the Gender Equality ToolKit developed by Makerere’s School of Women and Gender Studies, Gender equality refers to equal enjoyment by women and men of socially valued goods, opportunities, resources and rewards.
Zigomo says Uganda under President Museveni has provided commendable leadership in the region in peace and stability, as well as its progressive approach to refugee management especially through its open door policy.
“In the area of refugees, peace and security, Uganda has chosen to say we want to be leaders in the region and even in the African Union on this issue,” Zigomo observes.
Adding that; “As a result, they have been very forward thinking in the policies they put in place, they have come up with very clear regulations and processes around host communities and refugee communities and giving actually enhanced rights to refugee and displaced communities.”
This kind of leadership, Zigomo says has demonstrated across the continent that once there is political will, nothing is impossible.
Uganda according to Zigomo is one of the first African countries to sign up to the New York Declaration on the Comprehensive Refugee Response Framework and has done great. She argues that this shows that when government chooses to do something, it can actually do it.
She says despite the progress made by Uganda on refugees, there is less to show especially in addressing gender imbalances.
She contends that Museveni has been a champion of many causes including the fight against HIV/AIDs in the early 1980s even when other African presidents were taking back seats.
She argues that Museveni has demonstrated the kind of leadership that is in key success areas, saying once such leadership is also shown at the gender level, Uganda is likely to perform way better than other countries in the region.
She cites Rwanda, which is Africa’s best-performer in efforts to close the gender gap at least, according to the 2014 World Economic Forum (WEF) Global Gender Gap report and efforts by Ethiopia towards the same under its current Prime Minister, Abiy Ahmed.