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Uganda: interview with Irene Lamunu, journalist at Leadership Magazine

“Leadership Magazine is a Catholic magazine published in Uganda by the Comboni Missionaries. It was founded in October 1956 by Fr. Tarcisio Agostoni (RIP), as a publication of Gulu diocese for Christian leaders of the Catholic Action and other Church movements. At that time, Fr. Agostoni saw that Uganda was soon getting independence and that the church lagged behind in having Catholics with enough preparation to occupy positions of leadership in society, hence the title of the magazine”.
With this answer starts the interview with Irene Lamunu, journalist at Leadership Magazine in Uganda.

When was It founded and by whom?
“The first printing presses were Church-founded. Following in this tradition, Leadership Magazine has been published monthly without seizing since 1956 until recently when it went Bi-Monthly. Even during very difficult times, like in the 1970s under Idi Amin, when there was no freedom of the press and there was scarcity of paper for printing Leadership persevered. Leadership Magazine covers social, religious, health, entertainment and culture, international and local politics, education, photo essays, profiles of interesting personalities, books, movies and music reviews, all packaged in a 44-page attractive format.

How is the role of the women in Uganda: are there women in Leadership positions in politics, economic, churches and University in Journalism?

“The role of women in Uganda is a strong one, since 1986 when President Museveni became president the first thing he fought for was women emancipation in the country. When Museveni took over power, Uganda got the first female vice President who was Specioza Kazibwe; from that time, he never looked down on the role of women in the Ugandan society. He has always involved women in the leadership of the country. Today, Uganda has so many female political leaders including the current vice President Rt. Gen Jessica Alupo, the Prime Minister Robina Nabanjja, and the speaker of Parliament Anita Among, the First Deputy Prime Minister who was also the former speaker of Parliament Rebecca Alitwala Kadaga.  Currently, there are 32 Senior Ministers, 14 of whom are women (44%) compared to 36% in 2016. Out of 50 Ministers of State, 23 are women (46%). The 11th Parliament has 175 female Members of Parliament (MPs), 146 of whom are District Women MPs. The church in Uganda has many female leaders, for example the Anglican church in Uganda has so many female Reverends, the Catholic church in Uganda like any other in the world is a bit reserved but we have women leaders of the Laity. Among the Muslims, it is a culture in their religion that women do take up any leadership so it is in Uganda. In Schools and universities, the girl child has taken up the challenge that the boy child has taken despite the fact they have challenges, but they have competed with the boys. Earlier the girl child had 1.5 free entry point over their male counterparts, but today everybody strives to get to the university the same way. The 1.5 entry point for the girls has been scrapped off and the girls are fighting their way to university doing the same course units like boys, we have female doctors, lawyers, journalist and other professions”.

Uganda is a Christian country, but several men are married with two wives. What is your opinion about polygamy? Is polygamy allowed by the law?

“Polygamy has been practiced in Africa from way back: it is part of the African culture. Polygamy was in Africa even before the introduction of Christianity to Africa. An African man is allowed to marry more than one wife, provided he pays the bride price of the women.

Like every other woman, personally I would not want my husband to have another wife, but sometimes culture dictates and in the African culture the woman has no voice: all decisions are made by men, so many of them will tell you if you don’t want to have a co-wife (Sister wife), you are free to leave that marriage.

It is Christianity that has tried to tame the polygamist for example in the Catholic Church you will only be tied to one woman until she dies), but that too has not helped much. So, I say polygamy is an African thing and whatever African women do, we cannot fight it, because in the African culture we have no choice over our men “.

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