Gender arrivalism should not make us forget the village woman

The story of our gender question can be seen through the composition of the presidential candidates contesting for the top seat, where only one woman, Kyalya Walube is taking part.

On her day of nomination, she said “I am the only woman in this race” more than 10 times. It is a story of how in the 21 century the Ugandan society still gets awed when a woman takes to the waters that are traditionally known to be a preserve for men.

But it is also a story of the level of inferiority complex, and the mentality of settling for the bare minimum, among some women. Settling for the bare minimum in the sense that to some just contesting against men is a sign of triumph.

And sadly too, it tells a story of the position of the rural woman, in the gender equation, almost more than 25 years since the advent of women emancipation.

Among the educated and outspoken women, one can easily be tempted to think that there’s gender equality in Uganda. We have women in Parliament, boardrooms, and many are driving posh cars.

The feeling of arrivalism is the biggest problem blurring the true story of gender in Uganda because those who have ‘arrived’ have become comfortable and are lost in proving a point as and to how they can ‘be men too’. But Gender equality or parity should not be about who becomes more of a man or less of a woman. It should be about equality before the law, before access social services and most important equal respect in homes. That’s what the rural women, and some men cry out for.

In a country where spousal rape is not recognised as a criminal offence, in a country where the customary law dictates that women do not have the right to inherit anything, issues that are dear and important to the rural women, those contesting to lead should be looking more at how to make the gender victory a national victory and not only for a few who, thanks to the trappings of living in the cities and coming from enlightened families can afford to fight for their space.

 

ALEX B. ATUHAIRE

Alex B. Atuhaire is a Senior Editor at Daily Monitor newspaper and heads the 2016 Presidential and General Elections Reporting Desk