Ten years ago the Women’s Democracy Network (WDN) started with a goal of increasing women’s political and civic leadership.
WDN accomplishes this goal by linking these women with peers their countries who share similar struggles, they then create WDN country chapters. These chapters provide mentorship from experienced women who are leaders in their fields, and through skills-building trainings help women from around the globe become leaders in their communities.
One of our largest and most prominent chapters is in Uganda. Last month the women of the Uganda chapter participated in Uganda Women’s Network’s third National Women’s Week in Kampala,. The National Women’s Week is a biennial event, which brings together men and women from civil society organizations, government institutions, Members of Parliament, and university students with an aim to create a space for political dialogue on women empowerment and an opportunity for the young political activist to exchange best practices.
National Women’s Week also provides a platform for women organizations to continue efforts on strengthening women’s rights in Uganda. To respond to the challenges facing women seeking leadership roles in political parties, IRI and WDN Uganda Country Chapter hosted a parallel session under the theme: “Making Political Parties in Uganda work for Women: Celebrating Progress made and addressed the challenges collectively.” The session aimed to discuss achievements made by political parties and addressed challenges of gender inclusion in the political process.
Political party leaders urged women to rise and seek leadership roles and encouraged male colleagues to become champions for women in their communities. In addition to being inspired by these dynamic leaders, participants were called to take action in their communities.
Many Ugandan WDN members took this to heart, they knew that in order to make a change one must not wait. One of our members led a march that demanded the accessibility to clean safe water in her community- she instinctually knew that to get deeper involved in the political process, they must make her voice known. She rallied a group of women who used their voice to make it clear that fighting for access to clean, safe water is not only a human rights issue but a women’s rights issue. By choosing one tangible thing they could do, they exhibited the values we promote within Women’s Democracy Network.
The WDN Uganda country chapter knows that women must be politically active in their communities. They modeled what can happen when the political space is widened, and women are at the tables of power and make decisions that affect their community.
Leadership is not just being President—leadership is all levels of society.” What it takes is for you to be the one that is bold enough to say what you feel and what you think. -President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf