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Ugandan women who defined 2013

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It is said that it takes acts of people or acts of God to make a year unique from the others. What would 2013 be without these 20 women?

Rebecca Kadaga; Speaker of Parliament_0005_kadaga

If this year were a song, the oil debate set the tone, the ‘rebel’ MPs saga was the chorus and the rift with her deputy Jacob Oulanyah was the final stanza. While her NRM party was busy accusing her of being “useless” to President Museveni, the international community was demanding for a piece of her.

Consequently, she was elected as Chairperson of the Commonwealth Women Parliamentarians International (CWP), which brings together women Parliamentarians from some 54 Commonwealth countries.

Janet Museveni, Minister Karamoja AffairsJanet-KataahaMuseveni620


Ever since she was appointed Minister of in charge of Karamoja Affairs, the First Lady has not rested. At an IGAD Ministers Conference in Kampala in October, her counterparts in Kenya, Ethiopia and South Sudan named the Ugandan part of the Karamoja Cluster as the most-transformed area in the four-member region, which was a clear vote of confidence in her efforts.  Earlier in August, the mother of four celebrated a remarkable 40 years of marriage to President Yoweri Museveni upon which they renewed their marriage vows, toasting to love and friendship at a colorful ceremony. Surely, a year couldn’t be any better than that.

Lady Sylvia Naginda, Nnaabagereka

Given the sheer amount of work she does, one can be tempted to think that the Buganda Queen is a government official. 2013 was yet another busy year for her as she remained a pillar of development by playing a major role in sensitizing and mobilizing the general population on issues of education, health, poverty eradication, culture preservation, and empowering marginalized groups such as youth, women and persons with disabilities.  To crown it all, she hosted African queens in Kampala and invited President Yoweri Museveni to launch the African Queens and Women Cultural Leaders Network (AQWCLN).

Allen Kagina; Commissioner General, URAAllen-Kagina


In 2013, URA made history when revenue collections for 2012/2013 breached the Shs 7 trillion mark for the first time making her 9th year as boss at URA a fabulous one. The tax body has also seen the tax payer register grow by 91% in 12 months thanks to initiatives geared at widening the tax net.  Indeed, URA performed better all her counterparts in the region in 2012/2013, which is largely attributed to Kagina’s relentless efforts to improve efficiency.

Jenifer Musisi Semakulamusisi-jenniffer

The soft-spoken but iron-handed KCCA Executive Director made 2013 one of the best for Kampala residents in recent years, though the Lord Mayor Erias Lukwago could have another view. The new Wandegeya Market and a spruced up New Taxi Park were just two of the glittering gems in her crown. How she managed to force the notorious boda boda riders to register without the President’s involvement remains a mystery. To crown a great year, Musisi presided over a successful Kampala City Carnival, which literally brought Kampala to a standstill.

Irene Muloni, Energy and Mineral development MinisterHon-Irene-Muloni

Her ever-present smile belies her efficient and courageous character. Indeed, 2013 has been a landmark year for Uganda because of her effective working style.  Apart from several large scale energy projects being launched, key legislation has been passed by Parliament to guide the oil sector.  She managed to calm the storm in the sector that marked the end of 2012. Consequently, the government granted the first oil production licence for the Kingfisher oil field to CNOOC.  Indeed, her 25th anniversary in marriage was a befitting gift for a great year.


Mariah Kiwanuka, Finance Minister


Amid a financial squeeze that was eventuated by the suspension of aid from several donors in protest over corruption in the government, her calmness and smooth working amidst the storm has seen a visibly broke government through one of the most difficult periods in recent years. Also, under her guidance, the government managed to put in place agreeable systems that have convinced the donors to resume giving development assistance.

Idah Nantaba, State Minister for Lands


It takes a tough woman to square up to a war-hardened military general. Well, that is what the Kayunga Woman MP did to Police Boss General Kale Kayihura when she accused him of protecting powerful land grabbers in Kayunga at the expense of the poor peasants. The accusation angered Kayihura but ‘Mama Kayunga’ as she is known, refused to flinch. Instead, she threatened to resign if he did not stop. To many poor people, she has indeed been a heroine as 2013 would have spelt doom for them if it were not for her involvement.

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