When Hens Begin to Crow: Gender and Parliamentary Politics in Uganda

When Hens Begin to Crow: Gender and Parliamentary Politics in Uganda

When Hens Begin to Crow: Gender and Parliamentary Politics in Uganda

When Hens Begin to Crow: Gender and Parliamentary Politics in Uganda

Synopsis

In this fascinating study, based on in-depth interviews with both male & female parliamentarians, women in nongovernmental organizations, & rural residents of Uganda, Sylvia Tamale explores how women's participation in Ugandan politics has unfolded & what the impact has been for gender equity. The book examines how women have adapted their legislative strategies for empowerment in light of Uganda's patriarchal history & social structure. The author also looks at the consequences & implications of women's parliamentary participation as a result of affirmative action handed down by the president, rather than pushed up from a grassroots movement. Although focusing on Uganda, Tamale's study is relevant to other African & non-African countries grappling with the twin challenges of democracy & development.

Excerpt

The Gender Dynamics of Intraparliamentary Politics

In Chapter 1 I discussed gender relations in Uganda, highlighting the historical evolution of gender as a social construction that engendered an asymmetrical valuation between the sexes that valorized masculinity and devalued femininity. the relations of power, resources, and personalities between Ugandan men and women, no doubt, reflects their respective performance in the political arena. the dialectics of tokenism, power, socialization, the institution of gender, and underdevelopment operate together in shaping the political activities of Ugandan men and women. in this chapter, I first analyze the potential for women, as autonomous political actors, to influence the decisions of a skewed institution -- the Constituent Assembly (CA) -- wherein the 1995 Ugandan constitution was debated and promulgated. Second, I investigate the complex ways that gender inhibits, empowers, and influences legislators in the Ugandan parliament, thus highlighting its prominence and pervasiveness in this sphere of society. Finally, I examine the way sexuality is used to perpetuate women's oppression and subordination in the August House.

Patriarchy as a force is so powerful that it permeates and dictates much of what goes on in Uganda's legislatures. However, the institution of patriarchy is not without cracks. the work of female constituent assembly delegates (CADs), which is examined in the first section, demonstrates how these cracks can be penetrated to the advantage of Ugandan women. But like all success stories recorded in history, the gains made by women politicians come at a cost. Compromises, concessions, and tradeoffs are all part of the game that Ugandan women legislators are forced to play. Further discussion sheds some light on the difficult and circuitous road that female politicians negotiate on a daily basis in the political process. the styles they adopt and the decisions they make, even their options in personal matters, all reflect women's interrogation with and negotiation around patriarchy.

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