Kampala, Uganda – A recent visit to Uganda by AWEPA’s President, Minister of State Ms. Miet Smet, focused on ways to deepen and renew cooperation between AWEPA and the Parliament of Uganda.
During her visit, Ms. Smet attended and chaired a meeting with members of the Uganda Women’s Parliamentary Association (UWOPA), an association which AWEPA will aim to support within the partnership. The meeting was held on 30 May 2016 and was organised by staff of AWEPA’s regional office in Uganda.
A number of UWOPA members attended the meeting, and shared their experiences and efforts to ensure gender-balanced policies and legislations are embraced.
Speaking on behalf of the Chair of UWOPA, Ms. Betty Iyamuremye, UWOPA Programme Coordinator, thanked AWEPA for its continued support to the Parliament of Uganda, and particularly for its capacity building work with UWOPA. She expressed her organisation’s commitment to continue working with AWEPA in order to strengthen the Parliament and make women’s voices heard.
On AWEPA’s behalf, Ms. Smet welcomed UWOPA’s idea to take steps towards signing an MOU in order to contribute to their work both in Parliament and serving the public. UWOPA believe this would strengthen their resolve to identify critical areas of political and economic concern and develop approaches, structures and strategies to address them.
The AWEPA President urged the women MPs to ensure that gender laws passed by Parliament are implemented to protect the vulnerable groups especially girls and women. Ms. Smet also invited the MPs to consider engaging men on issues to do with women laws, adding that their vote matters.
“I believe in the power of women. We have more less the same problem and that is sex-based discrimination.” Ms. Miet Smet
Other attendees at the meeting included AWEPA’s Political Coordinator for Uganda and Kenya, Mr. Johan Van Hecke; AWEPA Director Bilateral Programmes Ms. Kris Debref; AWEPA Programme Manager, Mr. Andrew Namara; Mr. Gideon Akansasira, Principle Planning Officer of the Department of Corporate Planning and Strategy in the Parliament of Uganda, and UWOPA staff.
Mr. Van Hecke noted that, through the Ugandan Parliament, AWEPA has previously committed its support to two parliamentary committees, namely the Labour, Gender and Social Development Committee, and the Committee for equal opportunities.
Also during her visit to Uganda, AWEPA’s President met with the Belgian Ambassador to celebrate the long lasting cooperation between AWEPA and the Ugandan Parliament.
UWOPA is a parliamentary women’s caucus and is currently one of the biggest forums in the Parliament of the Republic of Uganda.
Its vision is to ensure social justice, peace and economic empowerment for all Ugandans.
During the 9th Parliament, the organisation’s work to protect women included pushing for a number of laws such as the Sexual Offences Bill, the Marriage and Divorce Bill and the Succession Amendment Bill.