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Erosion and transformation in the ecology of gender: women's political representation and gender relations in the Ugandan parliament

  • Dina Refki (a1), Diana Abbas (a1), Bilge Avci (a1), Eunhyoung Kim (a1), Iris Berger (a1) and Sue Faerman (a1)...

Abstract

Previous literature on women's representation in the Ugandan Parliament painted a grim picture of women exploited by political leaders, and brought into Parliament and other political spaces by a benevolent dictator who allowed their entry to extend and deepen his political networks. These women were expected to accept a subordinate and inferior place, and to defer to male authority. Female members cooperated dutifully by ‘knowing their place’ and by actively supporting the ‘hand that fed them’. Studies noted that women lacked gender consciousness and even the analytical power to understand the implications of the policies they helped pass. There was a general consensus that patriarchal attitudes in Parliament diminished women's influence and undermined their political efficacy. This paper analyses gender relations, and examines the status of female members through their words, actions and behaviours in the Ugandan Parliament. The three primary sources of data for this study were surveys, semi-structured interviews of male and female members of Parliament, and the proceedings of parliamentary debates in 2014. Analysis of parliamentary debates and personal accounts of gender relations in the 9th Parliament reveal a changing landscape. Women are moving from marginal roles to more central roles in Parliament, and are becoming active participants in shaping parliamentary discourse and policy outcomes. There is a newfound sense of empowerment among respondents. Women articulated a new sense of being respected in Parliament, a sense of self- and collective efficacy that they can advance policy priorities. There is a change in women's performance on the Chamber's floor. Parliamentary proceedings offer evidence of an ability to successfully engage in vigorous debates, effectively advance their policy agendas, and utilise sophisticated political strategising and manoeuvring. While there are still elements of continuity, a new gender schema is emerging – a schema that challenges traditional values and attempts to reconcile these values with requirements for running a modern government.

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Erosion and transformation in the ecology of gender: women's political representation and gender relations in the Ugandan parliament

  • Dina Refki (a1), Diana Abbas (a1), Bilge Avci (a1), Eunhyoung Kim (a1), Iris Berger (a1) and Sue Faerman (a1)...

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