WHO IS HONORABLE DOCTOR MIRIA MATEMBE?
Hon. Dr. Miria Rukoza Koburunga Matembe, is a founder member of the Centre for Women in Governance (CEWIGO). She is a born again Christian Lawyer, married to Nekemia Matembe, with whom they have four sons, a daughter-in-love and a grand-daughter. he is a former member of the Pan-African Parliament from Uganda. While on the Pan-African Parliament she was Chairperson of the Committee on Rules, Privileges and Discipline a permanent committee of the Pan-African Parliament.
She is a strong proponent for and an advocate of women’s human rights in Uganda. For close to two decades beginning in 1989 she was a member of Uganda’s parliament. She worked in the Ugandan government as Minister for ethics and integrity from 1998 to 2003, after which she became Member of Parliament with the Pan-African Parliament representing Uganda.
She was one of the 21 member commission that prepared the draft Constitution of Uganda which was later promulgated into the National Constitution of Uganda in 1995. Her contribution helped ensure that this document was one of the most progressive in the world in its attention to the human rights of women and other marginalised people. Hon. Matembe was also a delegate to the Constitutional Assembly which debated and promulgated the said National Constitution. In 1990, she was Deputy General of the Pan-African Congress held in Kampala. She is also a former lecturer on law and English at the Chartered Institute of Bankers in Kampala.
Hon. Miria Matembe’s story is one of lifelong dedication o justice and equality, and the variety and effectiveness of her work made her an ideal honorand for the convocation during which she was awarded her Honorary Doctorate. Her areas of interest and expertise are: (1) Political Empowerment of Women and (2) Youth and Issues of Ethics and Integrity in leadership.
Hon. Dr. Miria Matembe was a Regan-Fascel Democracy fellow at the National Endowerment for Democracy in Washington DC in 2006. Her project while there led to the establishment of Centre for Women in Governance (CEWIGO).
Hon. Dr. Miria Matembe is a prominnet Lawyer and a teacher of Lawyers. She received her LLB Honours degree from Makerere University located in Kampala, Uganda and her LL.M from the University of Warwick in the UK.
She also attained a Diploma in Health Administration from the International Christian Medical Institute, in 2002.
In 2007, she was recognized and awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Laws (LL.D) from Victoria University in Canada.
Hon. Dr. Miria Matembe is a recipient of many other awards, most prestigious of which is the Women Heroines Award, 100 Heroines of the World Project, New York, USA (October 1998).
The others are:
- 2 awards for outstanding contribution in enhancing women’s empowerment through Political Activism and through Women and Human Rights Advocacy.
- 1st Annual National Integrity and Public Ethics Award (NIPED) 2010 upon being nominated by Ugandan youth as a role model, excellent activist and for distinguished service to Uganda.
- Award of honour by cornerstone pocket fraternity in recognition of her exemplary commitment to God, career and country, which are the cherished values of the fraternity.
- Award of integrity by ACLAIM Limited in recognition for her unique contribution in the CSO/NGO sector in Uganda, 2010
- Alumni Lifetime Achievement Runner – up Award, Uganda United Kingdom (UUK), 2008
- Recognition award as member of 7th parliament of Uganda (2001 – 2006) for commitment and support for integration of Human Rights and Gender in law making by FIDA and Uganda Law Society.
- Meritorious award in recognition of outstanding contribution to the foundation of Uganda National NGO Forum and the achievement of its mission “increasing choices for the poor” 27th August 2003 by the Uganda National NGO Forum.
- Vocational Service Award in recognition of her outstanding contribution to women emancipation and building ethics and integrity in public office in Uganda by Rotary club of Bugolobi.
- Diploma in Health Administration International Christian Medical Institute (2002)
- Distinguished Leadership Award for Outstanding Contributions to Contemporary Society. The American biographical institute (1999)
- 2nd Uganda Woman Achievers Award Isis-WICCE, Kampala (1998 )
- Woman of distinction by Forum for African Women Educationalists - Uganda Chapter
- Champion of integrity award by Uganda Christian University students of the African challenge foundation.
WOMEN'S RIGHTS ADVOCACY
While Hon. Miria Matembe has worked at the highest levels of government, she has been a tirelss organiser at the grassroots level as well. She has been a strong proponent and advocate of women’s rights in Uganda for over two decades beginning in 1989 when she was a member of Uganda’s parliament.
Since she left active politics, she has worked as a Consultant on women and politics issues in Africa for National Democratic Institute (NDI), Club Madrid, Isis-WICCE, UNDP and many other organisations that keep inviting her. Prior to her political path, she worked as a state Attorney and Lecturer in law in various institutions. Hon. Dr. Miria played roles in the founding of some regional women’s organizations such as Women Law and Development in Africa (WILDAF) and African Women’s Network (FEMNET).
Concerned about the plight of women and girls in society that remains deeply partriachal she co-founded Action for Development (ACFODE) in 1985. This has been for over two decades one of the most active women's organisations in Uganda.
In 2006, Hon. Matembe co-founded the Centre for Women in Governance (CEWIGO), for which she is a currently a Board member.
This is a political but non-partisan NGO whose vision is a world that values and cherishes good governance where women and men equally participate and benefit from decision making.
CEWIGO's mission is to mobilize and develop a critical mass of women with the capacity to spearhead development.
In 2011 she delivered the keynote address at the 11th Sarah Ntiro Lecture and Award held at Grand Imperial Hotel, Kampala, Uganda to those women who are either inspiring models or have worked to facilitate girl-child education at the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) organised-event and, for the disadvantaged girl-child. The main awards came in two categories; the “Woman of Distinction” award which recognised women whose activities promoted girl child education, and the Model of Excellence award which awarded women achievers who set a good example for young girls.
on. HMiria Matembe who was one of those honoured for her valiant efforts to promote girl child education gave thanks to God when accepting the award. She said ignorance and lack of resources were some of the issues hampering the advancement of girl child education.
Hon. Dr. Miria Matembe has presented many papers mainly on gender equality and women’s empowerment and human rights of women, some of these papers have been published in different publications. Some of these are:
- A paper entitled “General Principles of the Draft Constitution” published in a Book “In search of Freedom and Prosperity” Constitutional Reform in East Africa.1996
- A paper entitled “Strategies for Increasing Women’s Political Participation" published in the Book “Look at the World through Women’s Eyes” a publication of the NGO Forum on Women in Beijing 1995.
- Paper entitled “How Far the Women of Uganda Have Gone in Realizing Their Rights” published in a magazine called “Dialogue” a production of K.U.L.U Women and Development (Denmark). 1993
- A statement made on behalf of Africa Women’s Organization, published in the African Charter for popular participation in Development – a publication by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA). 1989
After the South Sudan general elections, she was engaged by the UNDP to conduct induction training in Parliamentary Practice and Procedures for both regional and national parliaments of the Southern Sudan. She was contracted by Isis–WICCE to run a one week workshop on Women’s engagement in the governance process of the New Southern Sudan. In July 2011, she was engaged in Southern Sudan by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) to sensitize the speakers and the Chairpersons of Parliamentary Committees on the Constitution making process, preceding the independence of Southern Sudan. Thereafter, she was called back to South Sudan by NDI to conduct training in all regions of Southern Sudan on the need and importance of the people’s participation in making the new constitution.
She continues to offer consultancy services on issues related to governance, gender equality and empowerment of women both within and outside Africa.
Some of her memorable engagements are:
- Facilitation of a training to promote government integrity and anti-corruption in Uganda, organised by International Law Institute in-collaboration with USAID.
- Mentoring Women Leaders for Gender-responsive governance in Dhaka Bangladesh for the South Asian women parliamentarians’ conference in July 2012, with the support of the South Asia Foundation and USAID.
- Panelist contracted by the African Women Development Fund for a dialogue on Governance, Peace and Security in Nairobi.
- Training women aspiring for leadership positions, as part of the Campaign for Good Governance in Sierra Leone in the November 2012 General election in Sierra Leone.
- Training in a workshop for the South Sudan National Legislative Assembly Women Caucas Members in November 2012.
In Lilongwe, Malawi, she facilitated as an inspirational speaker in the national conference on women political participation, in March 2013.
Hon. Miria documents her experience of bring gender issues to the fore on national politics in her 2002 autobiography titled:
Gender, Politics and Constitution making in Uganda; and she has authored a book titled Woman in the Eyes of God.
In her book, Woman in the Eyes of God, Honorable Dr. Miria Matembe believes that one of the constraints to gender equality which denies women the ability to realise their potential and utilise their God given talents is religious misinterpretation and misapplication.
Society says that women are inferior to men, must know their place and always submit to their husbands.
In this book, Dr. Matembe presents a different point of view, trusting that her interpretation of some of the scriptures that relate to women will give them an image different from the one they have had.
Hon. Miria Matembe has probably featured the most in the Uganda media, given her outspoken nature on issues of leadership, good governance and integrity.
She is also on LinkedIn and Facebook, where you can read to find out more about her.
Some of the quick electronic quick links are: -
Conclusively, in a world where it is easy to become hardened by news that focusses relentlessly on failure and venality, the life and achievements of Hon. Miria Matembe remind us of the possibility of ethical leadership in public service and the value of working for justice no matter how great or how dangerous the challenges.