When a woman understands how to run a home, she is close to understanding the problems of running a country. Uganda is blessed with courageous women who can’t be ignored in political growth of the Pearl of Africa.
From the past general election and beyond, these women have steered the course of the country in a usually male-dominated environment.
They have made distinct impact with their selfless works, and their ambitions have brought them national and international recognition. As Uganda joins the rest of the world to commemorate the International Women’s Day – they are the most powerful women in our political arena in no specific order.
Beti Kamya-Turwomwe, Kampala minister
Uganda Federal Alliance (UFA) president Beti Kamya raised a lot of dust when she appointed Minister in charge of Kampala city and is yet to stop. She was born in Nakuru, Kenya on 30 November 1955 but was a candidate in the 2011 presidential elections, coming in fifth with 52,782 votes. She previously served as the MP representing Lubaga North Constituency on the Forum for Democratic Change (FDC) ticket from 2006 until 2010. Kamya’s deployment to KCCA, according to sources, is to help heal the wounds, and correct the wrongs that turned Kampala against Museveni and his ruling NRM party. A few days ago, it was revealed she had written to the IGP, Gen Kale Kayihura, requesting for 300 police officers to support the existing law enforcement officers in the city after being accused of taking a bribe from city businessman, Mr Hamis Kiggundu who demolished Park Yard Market without authorisation from KCCA.
Betty Amongi-Ongom, Lands minister
The Minister of Lands, Housing and Urban Development and Oyam South legislator Betty Amongi is a woman of power. A daughter-in-law to former president Apollo Milton Obote, Betty Amongi, the former UPC whip in the 9th Parliament, is not a surprise Museveni minister. She has long been a known Museveni friend, used by the president to win battles in parliament. Most famously, she engaged Museveni when the president badly wanted the then junior lands minister-designate Idah Nantaba to be approved by the House’s Appointments committee. More recently, she engaged Museveni to ensure he did not oppose Rebecca Kadaga’s bid for speaker of parliament and he obliged despite alleged earlier sentiments.
Rebecca Kadaga, The Speaker of Parliament
The powerful woman from Busoga was unanimously elected by the 10th Parliament, but even this was nothing new for Ugandans. She’s been Speaker since 2011, and was Deputy Speaker for two terms before that. Widely respected and known as a powerful force in development for women and all Ugandans, her leadership proves the success of Uganda’s political affirmative action, as she started her Parliamentary career in 1989 as a Member of Parliament for the Kamuli District Women’s Constituency. The former lawyer also served as Minister of State for Regional Cooperation, Minister of State for Communication and Aviation and Minister of Parliamentary Affairs.
Winnie Kizza, Leader of Opposition
Kasese district Woman MP Winnie Kiiza was last year approved as the new Leader of the Opposition in Parliament. Ms Kiiza who is the country’s first female opposition leader in parliament, first came to Parliament after the 2001 general elections. Kiiza has a huge task ahead go of her as she will try to marshall the opposition against an overwhelming NRM majority of 302 MPs compared to FDC’s 36, 59 Independents, 15 DP and 6 UPC MPs. Her appointment did not come easy. A section of party youths opposed to the appointments stormed the FDC headquarters in protest.
Justine Lumumba Kasule, ruling party, NRM SG
She is the current Secretary General of the ruling National Resistance Movement political party, the second most influential post after Museveni’s. She was appointed to that position on 23 December 2014, replacing Amama Mbabazi. Prior to that, she served as the Chief Government Whip in the Ugandan Cabinet, from May 2011 until December 2014.Justine Lumumba Kasule is also the former Woman Member of Parliament for Bugiri. She was born in Bugiri District on 22 November 1972. She attended local schools before joining Makerere University, where she graduated with the degree of Bachelor of Arts with a concurrent Diploma in Education, in 1996.
Janet Museveni, First Lady and Minister of Education
Janet Museveni has been the First Lady of Uganda since 1986. She has also been the Cabinet Minister of Education and Sports since June 2016, and has previously held various positions in government, including Minister for Karamoja Affairs and an elected Member of Parliament. Once seemingly content to remain in her husband’s shadow, the first lady has for the past ten years shown a tougher and more ambitious persona as a politician. A complete contrast with her earlier profile, but one she has managed with grace and has been ridiculed by Ugandans for saying that the government could not go ahead as promised to cater for sanitary towels for adolescent school girls. A packet of quality sanitary towels go for about four thousand Shillings.
Ingrid Turinawe Kamateneti, FDC Mobiliser
She has become the darling of media houses courtesy of the one thing politicians crave for; the limelight. Turinawe has positioned herself as a political activist and was the most popular candidate during the East African Legislative Assembly race that afforded Members of Parliament (MPs) an opportunity to “punish” her for derogatorily referring to them as MPigs – a tag, traced to Kenyan political activist Boniface Mwangi, compares MPs, who usually ask for pay increments, to pigs. Pigs, like hyenas, are known for their appetites. Ms Turinawe’s nomination was eventful way before she got 25 votes out of over 400 voters. At one point, the President of FDC Major General Mugisha Muntu rescinded her nomination. Ms. Turinawe would later say she had not agreed to withdraw from the race. Maj. Gen. Muntu later said he had been misled.
Anna Adeke Ebaju, National Female Youth MP
Former Makerere University Guild President is the face of Uganda’s young generation on the political arena. The vocal legislator, 25, is a holder of a bachelor’s degree in laws of Makerere University and a diploma from LDC. Ms Adeke said she has leadership experience, having served as a prefect in secondary school. She is advocating for increased funding for youth councils. She promised to advocate for an autonomous youth ministry instead of the current set up where the youth ministry is under the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development and her fight was a good one. Her 2016 victory at Kontik Hotel in Hoima town means that young people are focused towards changing their lives and they are interested in better leadership.
Amelia Anne Kyambadde, Minister for Trade
Being so close and personal with him for nearly 40 years now, she is one of the few people who could if she wanted, write an authoritative biography of President Yoweri Museveni’s rule. As PPS to the President, Amelia was tough toward the staff around Museveni and went on to became arguably Buganda’s biggest female minister today. The Mawokota County North MP now heads the powerful Ministry of Trade, Industry and Cooperatives. She was appointed to that position on 6 June 2016.
Betty Nambooze Bakireke, MP
Ms. Betty Nambooze, arguably, the most vocal pro-Buganda MP in Uganda’s NRM controlled parliament, represents Mukono County, North, in Mukono District, Betty Nambooze and is a former journalist. She sits on the powerful Committee on Public Service and Local Government and the Committee on Local Government Accounts. Nambooze has also served as the Spokesperson for the Democratic Party and is one of the most popular political voices in Ugandan media. On February 15, 2016, the lead story of her own Spear News blog saw Ms. Nambooze declare herself leader of [Bad DP] and quoted herself saying, “I don’t want to use [the Democratic Party] as a vehicle to take me somewhere, I offer myself as a vehicle to take DP to her true destination. It’s high time malnourished DP get either a mom or worrier in Nambooze to retrieve it.” This week, she was stopped by police from meeting embattled Makerere University lecturer, Dr. Stella Nyanzi at Police Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) headquarters in Kibuli. Nambooze had gone to give company to Nyanzi who had been summoned by CID to answer charges of cyber harassment and offensive communication after she attacked and insulted President Yoweri Museveni and the First Lady, Janet Kataaha Museveni.