Women globally are the cornerstone of every society playing not only their motherly roles but also providing moral and spiritual support needed for society to achieve it’s set communal development goals.
However, oftentimes, women barely get the recognition or rewards for their input, instead, they're cast aside because of cultural and sometimes religious biases.
Speaking during an online talk show organized by Victoria University on Friday at the university’s auditorium under the theme ‘Enhancing Women Capabilities towards development in Uganda’, the role of women in society was emphasized.
The talk show was graced by Sheena Ruparelia, the Managing Director of Speke Group Hotels, Uganda Law Society President-elect Phiona Nabasa Wall, Katusabe Ssemwezi the Academic Registrar Victoria University, Karitas Karisimbi, a Media personality, and Malaa Kivila Odera, the Founder & C.E.O of Sylmax Consult.
The panellists agreed that some cultures are holding back women from being empowered. “Culture has told us how to behave and men have always been superior. I cannot say that we have been undervalued but we haven’t been accorded the opportunities we deserve. Culture has forced women to be below men and I want to see this changing,” Sheena said in her submission.
Victoria University’s Academic Registrar Katusabe Ssemwezi noted that this change is not an event but a process that women must be part of. She said that in the past, it was unimaginable to see parents allocate resources to girls like allowing and financing their stay in school to get an education. This she said is changing.
Malaa Kivila Odera, the Founder & C.E.O Sylmax Consult, agrees with Ssemwezi and adds that women have to be part of the process to achieve this change, which is a life long struggle. She discussed that while girls are raised to be homemakers, which she says is a critical thing to do, girls should also be prepared and presented with equal opportunities like the boys.
“We are getting things done in urban centres but in rural areas, cultures are holding girls back and this must be fought,” Malaa said.
Karitas Karisimbi, a local and celebrated television host, noted that there is a need to traverse the rural areas. “We are at a place where the world is listening; now we have to take the fight to the finish line,”
In so doing, the mentorship of the women to be independent, men should be involved. “We cannot talk to the women alone when the men are in bars drinking. They will come back from bars and abuse these women. It is time for us to go out there and involve the men at an early stage. The earlier we do, the better,” Karisimbi said.
To achieve this, Sheena says, there is a need to work as a community. “The struggle is long, it’s hard but it is possible and we must unite together, we must support one another, we must be willing to learn and listen. Open your opportunities in every single day and appreciate it,” she noted.
She adds: “I think it’s up to us to change the society, no one is going to do it for us, it is us to work together and togetherness education, willingness, openness and target orientation makes it possible, we can do it.”
Uganda Law Society President-elect Phiona Nabasa Wall believes that if we don’t empower boys, it will be a disaster. We need a strategy to bring boys on board, she said.