‘Can you really fail to support the one who feeds you?’ - An analysis of female representation in the Ugandan Parliament
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The Ugandan Parliament has seats reserved for women. According to the 1995 Constitution one woman shall be elected from each district. Hence, the 56 District Women Representatives are elected in addition to the 214 regular MPs creating a ‘double’ representation in Parliament. Given the ‘double’ representation, the District Women Representatives have often by the voters been regarded as representatives of women in particular. This thesis takes advantage of Hanna Pitkin’s work on the concept of representation, and her dichotomy between “Standing For” representatives and “Acting For” representatives. If women in Uganda represent the district they would be “Standing For” descriptive representatives; they are elected to Parliament based of their characteristics as women. If the affirmative action women feel an obligation to represent women in particular, they would be “Acting For” representatives. Furthermore, for two reasons the District Women Representatives have particularly close ties to the Government: First, the affirmative action seats in Uganda are interpreted as a ‘gift’ given to Ugandan women from the NRM regime. Second, the District Women Representatives are elected to Parliament through Electoral Colleges consisting of officials with close ties to the Government. It can be argued that because of these close ties the District Women Representatives are expected to “Act As” Movementist in Parliament, hence increasing governmental support. In this they come close to what Pitkin refers to as “Standing For” symbolic representatives. The findings of this thesis indicate that some of the District Women Representatives “Act For” women, while there are some women who merely “Stand For” them. Generally, most of the affirmative action women support the NRM. This has made it hard for them to challenge the Government is issues they find important. Moreover, this thesis also shows that although the female representation in Parliament is quite high, this does not necessarily strengthen the idea that women can be as capable politicians as men – as the affirmative action measures are intended to do.