The Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga has said she at one time became a victim of gender discrimination when was almost removed from her seat at a meeting of ministers just because she is a woman.
Kadaga made the remarks in commemoration of progress Uganda has achieved in fighting discrimination against women through women-empowerment, and according women space in all aspects of life ahead of International Women’s Day celebrations on March, 8th.
Speaker Kadaga was addressing members of Rotary Club of Nalya on Saturday, at Serena Hotel in Kampala. She recounted political and professional struggles women have gone through, citing exclusion from certain professions and discrimination in politics.
Kadaga cited an incident way back in the 90’s when she was Uganda’s Regional Cooperation minister. and got mistreated by officials from a neighboring country just because she is a woman. Kadaga narrated how she traveled as part of President Museveni’s advance party to prepare for her boss’s visit, and the Chief of Protocol attempted to remove her from the chair because he expected a male-only ministers’ meeting.
“As I went to take a seat behind the Ugandan flag, a man in charge of protocol rushed and blocked me saying the chairs were reserved for ministers” She said.
Kadaga said the official from a country she declined to mention tasked her to prove she was a minister, and the people in charge of her protocol had to do a lot of explanation before she was allowed to take the seat
“So I said I am the minister but he didn’t even greet me, rushed through my people of protocol and asked me if what I am saying is true; can you imagine?” Kadaga said.
She said the struggle against gender discrimination has many success stories including one of Dr. Sarah Ntiro, the first woman university graduate in East and Central Africa. Dr. Ntiro according to Kadaga, was supposed to do mathematics at Makerere University, but ended up studying history after a Mzungu lecturer walked out of the lecture room the day Dr. Ntiro reported. The lecturer said he didn’t come to teach women.
She said struggles for women’s rights in US and some European countries were settled in courts of law including rights to study courses like medicine, women’s rights to vote, as well as being voted for. Speaker Kadaga lauded government for the strides so far taken in according women space in development, but noted that a lot more requires to be done.
A known women’s rights defender, Kadaga vowed to continue fighting for women in Uganda and never to stop talking. She pledged commitment against Female Genital Mutilation until it is eradicated.