Women and Legislation: The issue of equity

Women. Can’t live with them. Can’t live without them.

Yesterday, I was privileged to take part in a dialogue that involved Women MPs. The dialogue had other participants: Hon. Reagan Okumu(the only male MP) , delegates from the US Embassy, monitoring group Parliament Watch, members of the public in Gulu, and people on social media. The question on the table was “How can women MPs make their participation in the legislative process count?”

There are currently 133 Women MPs in Parliament in total. Of those, 112 are district women representatives. There were 378 MPs in total, at the start of the 9th Parliament. We have had a female Vice President, we have a female Speaker of Parliament and Minister of Finance, to mention but a few. One would think that with these women placed strategically in the government, there would be more headway on issues affecting women.

One of the key discussions in the meeting that I would like to weigh in on is what the Hon. Miria Matembe started: Impact should not be based on women representation.  Women issues are issues that affect society. It is not just a matter of appointing women into positions of power.

One of the issues society faces is dichotomising each and everything.

Men issues. Women issues. Child issues. etc. It leads to Affirmative action when one side gets more headway than another.

Due to the fact that our society is very patriarchal, issues affecting women and others members of society end up being treated as crumbs that fall off the master’s table. Once a man is satisfied then other issues are dealt with. This would not be different in matriarchal societies.

Men who need to look out for everyone are looking out for themselves first. And then the marginalised also begin to demand to have their own needs met. No one is looking at everyone’s needs at a go! There is no sense of oneness. Society becomes a group of individuals looking out for themselves “Each man for himself, and God for us all.”

There is something in the Bible about this sort of thing.

Rom 12:5 In the same way, though we are many, we are one body in union with Christ, and we are all joined to each other as different parts of one body. | Gal 3:28 There is no Jew nor Greek; there is no bondman nor freeman; there is no male and female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus:

The initiative by Parliament Watch is commendable, because, MPs and society came together to share issues.  However, I believe all parties need to look at a common goal – society and not different parts of it. How can the weak be lifted up? How can the feeble knees be made to stand? Is the girl child marginalised? Lets lift her up. Is the boy child neglected? Let’s lift him up.

When these efforts are being made, they must not be made as end goals but with society improving as the greater goal. For if they are pursued as individual end goals, you will have a liberated woman who does not respect men, or a powerful man who does not love and honour others. etc.  Why? It is a self-centred way of building society. You are using pride to build and pride often leads to a fall.

If we understood this, we’d look out for each other. The woman would understand the man and his role and vice versa. We would all be “God’s bits of Wood” adding to a strong fire.

How can women MPs make their participation count? By appealing to more than woman but to the wholeness/oneness of society.

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