Young blood in the Ugandan parliament

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Two attendees of the Sacred Heart primary school of Uganda have increased hope for the future because they receive full educations.

Two attendees of the Sacred Heart primary school in Uganda have increased hope for the future because they will receive full educations.
courtesy of Ms. Lori Wilson

19-year-old Proscovia Oromait traded in her seat in a high school classroom for a seat in the Ugandan Parliament. As a high school graduate and college hopeful, Oromait became the youngest lawmaker in Ugandan history after the elections this September
“This shows how much Ugandan women are making strides,” senior Tessa Davis, co-head of Africa Task Force, said. “At the age of 19, she has been given a full education, has a high position, and looks forward to a successful future.”
Oromait won a landslide victory in elections in eastern Uganda to successfully fill the parliamentary seat left open by her deceased father. The ruling party of the current president was desperate for a win in Oramait’s area. Though some believe that Oromait won based on a “sympathy vote,” after the death of her father, the victory was nonetheless a boost to President Museveni’s party and historically groundbreaking.
Oromait is now the representative of a rural area called Usuk. It is one of the most impoverished areas of Uganda but is now in the media’s eye due to Oromait’s victory.
“I am a bit concerned and taken aback because of her lack of experience and lack of exposure,” lawmaker Michael Mukula said of Oromait, according to news.yahoo.com. “This is not a constituency you want to give a child of that age to shoulder.”
Critics contend that the ruling party chose Oromait in order to deter current political activism against the Museveni regime, most of which has been spurred by the regime’s keenness to use violence to keep power. Now Museveni’s party has an overwhelming majority in the Parliament.The victory is viewed as controversial and even embarrassing in the eyes of elder legislators, who see this victory as indicating lower expectations for the ruling legislators of Uganda. Others, however, see hope in the new blood entering the government.
“She may not have any ideas yet,” said Mwambutsya Ndebesa, a professor of political history at Uganda’s Makerer University, “but she has the ability to learn,” according to yahoo.news.com.

Her age seems to be the mainly contested issue due to a fear of her lack of experience and political knowledge. There seems to be a less prominent discussion about her gender, coinciding with Uganda’s somewhat progressive society. Women in Uganda have been allowed to vote at the age of 18 since 1962, according to BBC News. Furthermore, 40 percent  Museveni’s cabinet members are women, according to streetnewsservice.org,

“I don’t think she was prepared for this. She had even never voted,” Nicholas Opio, a Kampala-based political analyst, said, according to yahoo.news.com.
Despite the opinions against the abilities of a young girl in Parliament, Oramait has expressed confidence in her abilities in all interviews with her. She feels that her intelligence will allow her to thrive despite her age. Oromait has promised to make her priority to improve rural roads and education, according to Ms. Magazine.
“It’s not about the age … it’s the brain,” Oramait told reporters in Uganda, according to news.yahoo.com.
A major factor that has given her the capability to achieve this seat is her completion of St. Kalemba Senior Secondary School. With her gained knowledge through education, she is confident in her abilities and ideas. It is evident that fulfilling a complete education opens doors to opportunity.
“Good education coupled with values that are either  centered and developed, are the key components to creating change in our world,” Director of Campus Ministry, Summer Enrichment, US Community Service and Network Service Coordinator Mrs. Lori Wilson, said. “It’s the only way to make a difference.  That’s why our Ugandan Sacred Heart Schools are so important to the country–they do this.”
Perhaps the next young woman in Parliament will come straight from the Convent of the Sacred Heart School in Uganda.
 
 – Allie Kenny, Opinions Editor