Crossing to the Mainstream: Information Challenges and Possibilities for Female Legislators in the Ugandan Parliament

University dissertation from University of Gothenburg

Abstract: Just like in other national legislatures in recent years, women have increased in numbers in Uganda, owing mostly to the introduction of affirmative action policies. These measures are regarded as fast track approaches to counter previous historical injustices and imbalances. However, these developments, which also reflect transposition in the social positioning of women from a marginal and probably limited outlook, to a broader, public and visible status in the public sphere, come with various challenges. The constraints are attributed to lack of adjustments within the organizational norms and procedures. Thus the main questions addressed by the study are: What happens when this previously less represented group becomes part of the mainstream? What are the implications in information access, information communication and information use? How can this inform us about the overall process of integration and social transformation? What information possibilities can women exploit to gain a more central place in mainstream politics? One of the assumptions is that access to and use of information is essential to full integration and in occupying a dominant position in the political environment which would consequently transform governance. The thesis is based on qualitative in-depth interviews and observations of legislators and non legislators with strong connections to Parliamentarians’ tasks. The findings reveal that a legislator’s versatility, world outlook and social positioning within the Parliamentary structures greatly improves ability to acquire and use information and possibly a legislator’s capability to influence national policy making. Women face challenges at two levels; the social and political context. There are possibilities of change through their own network.