In her thesis in information and library science Ruth Nalumaga examines the information challenges that women in Uganda encounter as legislators and popularly elected representatives. She has interviewed female and male members of parliament, as well as people within the administration and representatives from women’s councils out in the constituencies.

– She addresses the question of what happens when women actually get into parliament.

– The female members have to integrate into their new environment. One of the prerequisites is having access to the information necessary to be able to perform their duties in an unfamiliar environment. The process does not take place unimpededly.

Her results show that access to information from the parliamentary organisation appears equal. However, male members were better prepared for parliamentary work. They subscribed to additional information resources or engaged information ¬assistants for tasks such as summarizing documents. Furthermore, the men, who generally have more time and experience of decision-making, tended to maintain more contacts and communication sources in order to address the information problem.

– Moreover, the social expectations placed on women – even at the political centre – are the same, irrespective of how their status has changed. They are still expected to attend to domestic chores for their families and relatives, which means they have less time to prepare information.

– In other words, woman are still disadvantaged, despite having a better social position than prior to the introduction of positive discrimination, considers Ruth Nalumaga. The obstacles that exist within both the social and political contexts reveal the difficulties involved in transferring formal power to actual power. Positive discrimination alone does not deliver real power.

The project is a collaboration between the University Library at Makerere University in Kampala and the Departments of Library and Information Science at the Universities of BorĂĄs and Gothenburg with the aim of enabling library personnel to gain research skills. The project was financed by SIDA/SAREC.

Title of the thesis: Crossing to the mainstream: Information challenges and possibilities for female legislators in the Ugandan Parliament.
Author of the thesis: Ruth Ester L. Nalumaga, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda.
Faculty opponent: Senior Lecturer Pirjo Elovaara, Blekinge Institute of Technology
Time and venue for the public defence: Tuesday 29 September 2009, University of BorĂĄs at 13.00, Lecture Theatre E310

E-mail: Ruth.Nalumaga@hb.se; relnalumaga@mulib.mak.ac.ug
The thesis can be ordered from boel.bissmarck@hb.se at a cost of SEK 250.