Enhancing Women’s and Youth’s Political Leadership in Uganda

In Uganda, IRI enabled inter-party cooperation which resulted in sustainable government support for youth and women’s involvement in party activities. Ugandan women and youth leaders are often underrepresented in political parties, deeply impacting their participation in decision-making. IRI and its Women’s Democracy Network’s Uganda Country Chapter supported the Interparty Youth Platform (IYOP) and the Interparty Women Platform (IWOP) to advocate for better political opportunities for women and youth. IYOP and IWOP are independent networks comprised of 10 political youth leagues and 10 political women’s leagues. This cross-party collaboration alone is a notable and strategic shift in approach since Ugandan political parties have not traditionally worked together. Prior to the establishment of these networks, it was almost impossible for different political parties to sit in the same room to discuss issues of national concern.

Recognizing this important opportunity to jointly amplify their voices and concerns, and with capacity-building and strategic planning guidance from IRI, members of IYOP and IWOP held numerous advocacy meetings with the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs and the Electoral Commission. They raised concerns and presented constitutional and electoral reform proposals to better encourage women and youth to participate in the country’s political process. Additionally, IRI facilitated nine separate meetings and activities between the IWOP and IYOP leaders and senior political figures to showcase the capabilities of youth and women in politics to the senior leaders and bolster their profiles within their respective parties. As a result of these efforts, IWOP and IYOP successfully secured financial support to establish party-specific youth and women’s leagues. This unprecedented financial support, in some cases provided directly by senior political leaders, will help ensure the viability and sustainability of IWOP, IYOP, and the youth and women’s leagues in the future.

Separately, IYOP’s advocacy to the Electoral Commission was warmly received and resulted in several new initiatives between it and IWOP, all to increase youth engagement in the electoral process. This breakthrough collaboration effort among political parties through IWOP and IYOP is helping ensure women and youth have a meaningful chance to shape policies, practices, and structures within political parties in Uganda.

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