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Group photo of participants at Women Dialogue, Gitega

By Godfrey Olukya 12-3-2015 

The first female vice president, Specioza Wandira Kazibwe has called on
women in Burundi and Africa at large to target full emancipation.

Drawing from a myriad of experiences working with and for women in
Africa and beyond, Dr. Speciosa Wandira-Kazibwe, who is also Africa’s
first female Vice-President, urged the women of Burundi attending a
Round table meeting in Gitega Province, to courageously come up with a
women’s manifesto. This she says would help take stock of the
achievements registered since the Arusha Agreement signed at the start
of the New Millennium, while also strategizing for full emancipation.

The Agreement provides for 30% representation of women in Government
and Parliament, but Dr. Wandira-Kazibwe sees no reason why this should
not be 50% or preferably more, considering the inalienable role of
women in society and their superiority in numbers.

She called on the women to actively vie for political office
adding however, that to achieve this, there is need to have women’s
issues streamlined through policy. “Without right policies clearly
stating women’s demands, nobody will think about you”, she told the
over 50 women leaders gathered to chart ways for ensuring
participatory and peaceful elections.

Dr. Wandira-Kazibwe repeatedly shared graphical examples from her
experience as a Surgeon and Mother of Twins, calling upon the Barundi
to reject any cultural practices that negate women. “Women should stop
stereotyping men, and must nurture their children to appreciate the
reality that what men can do, women can do even better”, she
emphasized. She added that what women need to thrive in politics,
medicine, engineering, law, journalism and other professions, is their
brain, and not what lies below their waists.

She faulted religion and the Bible for their role in undermining
women, particularly in depicting Jesus’ mission on earth as being
dominated by men. Biblically, women’s role in society is staged as
mere helpers and subservient to men. She sternly observed the enormous
impact the personification of God as a man has had on women since
prehistoric times.This imagery has perpetually worked on women’s psych
and made majority of them to feel inferior to men, even when available statistics indicate that
most of world order rotates around women’s efforts.

And when Speciosa gave way after her presentation, the women leaders
ululated in hopeful satisfaction. It was the kind of motivation it
could take to spur renewed hope among Burundian and African women for
generations to come.

The meeting is attended by other East African Community/COMESA Eminent
personalities; Joseph Warioba, former Tanzania Prime Minister,
Bethuel Kiplagat from Kenya and Nuwe Amanya Mushega, former EAC
Secretary General.

At the same Round table, Ms. Martha Daud Luleka, an international
Development Consultant, presented on the “Centrality of women in
political processes; Challenges, experiences and lessons from Eastern
Africa Region ”

Daud Luleka said among others, that “If you are left out at this
stage, there’s no way you’ll catch up. You like it or not, there’s no
way you can avoid politics”.

Burundi is only weeks away from the May/June 2015 General and Presidential
elections.

Kazibwe was vice president of Uganda from 1996 to 2000

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