Amb. Deborah Malac opened the discussion by expressing
support for the all-female panel. “If this panel was all male,
there won’t be an issue.” She shared that working in the US
Foreign Service as a woman “was a decided disadvantage”
before things changed. Being more efficient was one way in
which they overcame the challenges, she said.
Dr Maggie Kigozi underscored the importance of education
to the rise of powerful women as well as support from
women in business who, in her case, helped her grow.
For Winnie Kiiza, her challenge as the first female Leader
of Opposition in the Ugandan Parliament was standing
up to those who told her “not to work like a man”, which
meant keeping in the background, as is socially expected
Challenges have been faced, some overcome, but
how can women continue to progress?
Sarah Ssali said that care should be taken not to stereotype
women but to acknowledge the incompatibility of women
and power according to society’s lenses. “It’s high time
we stopped putting a lot of blame on women. Women
work twice as hard, why? Because they have to prove
Co-existence between men and women is also the way
to go, according to Barbie Kyagulanyi, who is married to
Kyadondo East MP, Robert Kyagulanyi. “We are a powerful
couple. It’s possible to exist as a powerful couple.” She
advised women “to bite more than they can chew” and
figure out how to chew it.
Amb. Malac, Dr Kigozi and Hon. Kiiza noted that unequal
pay and underpay cannot be overcome if women remain
silent. Hon. Kiiza pointed out that though woman MPs are in
charge of an entire district, they still get the same salary as
male MPs who have only one constituency to take care of.
“Even if there’s affirmative action, there is no affirmative
action to many women.”
The panellists shared their views on whether men
should be allies in the rise of powerful women,
emphasising that collaboration should happen
organically but should not be forced.
Kiiza thinks that men can be partners in women’s causes.
She called for bringing “more men on board to treat each
other with dignity.”
However, Ssali disagreed, noting that “if you ask the
powerless to educate/change the powerful, it won’t work.”
She argued that attention needs to be paid to things
that make women fail to break the glass ceiling. “Women
shouldn’t wait for men to offer support.”
What does the future hold for powerful women?
Kiiza said that while the most difficult job in the world is
being Leader of Opposition in Parliament, she is ready to
become president of Uganda. “When people ask, ‘Who do
you think can take over from Museveni?’ I tell them, myself,
because I am competent.”
Barbie said she is already the First Lady of Uganda and her
husband, Kyagulanyi, is the president. “I’m already the First
Lady. Go and ask people in the ghetto.”
The panellists concluded that women need to aspire for
greatness, and to believe that it is possible to achieve great
The audience made key recommendations:
• Instead of giving 1.5 extra points to girls joining university,
give them scholarships.
• Involve men in the fight against the abuse of women.
• Women should be ready for and seize the opportunities
at their disposal.