AWLN Member Ruth Kavuma has been a driving force for women’s reproductive healthcare in Africa. The former Member of Parliament writes about “inspiring change,” within reproductive health in Uganda, which to her is a both a personal calling and career.
What, in your opinion has been the most inspiring process/event/achievement in the struggle for women’s equality?
The entrenchment of affirmative action in government institutions for the case of Uganda in 1989. This policy shift led to allocation of seats for women representatives at all levels of the local councils and a directorate of Women Affairs being set up within government. 34 parliamentary seats were exclusively for women representatives in the 1989 elections. This meant women became part of decision making and policy formulation. The 1.5 points for girls in public universities saw more girls into professional courses and higher education.
What does “inspiring change” mean to you?
Inspiring change means “harnessing the chance at governance, decision making and planning level/position in society to create enormous opportunities for the marginalized especially women and providing strategic direction towards equitable social transformation of that community.”
What is your most proud moment with regards to in?
When I was a member of the 8th Ugandan parliament working with the Network of Women Parliamentarians in Uganda (NAWMP), I lobbied for and secure a World Bank loan to the tune of USD 130 million for investment in improving women’s health care; especially increasing access and utilization of modern contraceptives in Uganda.
Is there a woman who has inspired you with regards to this theme?
Her Royal Highness (the Queen of Buganda) Nabagereka Sylvia Nagginda. She has embraced her position in Buganda to empower and inspire young women not only in Buganda or Uganda but Africa at large. She is a beacon of hope for many Ugandan young women and her inspiration is embodied in her works through her Nabagereka Foundation which she founded. She also founded the Kisaakate (a project where children reconnect with their cultural values) is a platform for development.
More recently, she formed the African Queens and Women Cultural Leaders Network (AQWCLN) which she chairs. The network seeks to improve the lives of women, girls and children in Africa by leveraging on the social status and potential of African women cultural leaders to actively influence social transformation of their communities and eliminate degrading treatment of women and negative cultural practices.
Whilst in Parliament, Ruth was in the Finance Committee where she advocated for sufficient resourcing for reproductive health commodities. Hon. Kavuma is a founding member and first Chairperson of Board for the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) – Uganda Chapter, an organization that improves and increases education for the girl child.
Hon. Kavuma now works with other MPs in the regions, sharing experiences of financing for RH/FP in Parliament. We applaud her for her drive and dedication to improving the lives of women.