Nyamutoro using parliament to champion rights of the girl child

Out of the total number of 556 Members of the Ugandan Parliament, only 188 are women which constitutes only 33.81% of the total number in the 11th parliament. However, it is important to note that this has been the highest number of female MPs represented in the house in Ugandan history.

The active election and participation of women in parliament is central to building and sustaining democracies. With equal presence of women in the house, their leadership and their perspective can ensure greater responsiveness to citizens’ needs.

For many, this raises the hope that there will be more attention given to the rights and needs of women and girls in Uganda. This agenda is a top priority for Phiona Nyamutoro, the current Female National Youth Member of Parliament.

In elections held in January 2021, Nyamutoro beat 12 others to become the new Female National Youth Member of Parliament making her the first female youth MP from West Nile.


Nyamutoro says while her family members knew that one time she would join national politics, she drew inspiration from her grandfather who was active in national politics.

“I grew up watching him {grandfather} in different political spaces and basically the entire environment at home has always been political. Everyone at home is politically active and from day one, they instilled in me leadership skills,” Nyamutoro says.

She says because of these leadership skills, at all levels, including in her class, school and university where she served as a leader, becoming a Member of Parliament didn’t come as a surprise to her.

Whereas distant relatives dissuaded Nyamutoro from standing for the position of national female youth MP over fears of lack of capacity to raise funds to run the campaign, she says she was determined to make it.

Nyamutoro not only stood against 12 other contestants but also had to campaign in 135 districts in a period of 100 days countrywide since she was vying for a position to represent female youth all over the country. This, according to some relatives, meant that she had to inject in a lot of money to be able to run a successful campaign within a short period yet no amount of words or obstacle would stop her from achieving her dream.

“There were instances where some distant relatives would learn of my quest to become the national female youth MP position and would call my parents to ask why they had let me run in the race because it was so expensive and would drain us. They asked why I didn’t run for a constituency. That was their concern,” she says.

Consequently, she went on to comfortably win the election.

Girl child activist

Nyamutoro is happy to describe herself as a girl child activist, a role she is ready to reinforce having got a better platform as the national female youth MP.

“I am very passionate about anything that concerns the girl child. My idea is that a girl child is blessed with giving birth to the future of the country. At the end of the day, every little girl you look at is a future mother and has potential, ability and is positioned to groom the next citizen of the country,” she says.

“It is very important the foundation you give them is strong enough for them to be able to pass it onto their children. It then affects the quality of citizens we get as a country.”

Nyamutoro says her role is to help address the plight of the girl child as a mother of the nation.

“We are looking at creating avenues for grooming better characters in girls and grooming women leaders by being inspirational to them.”

Seen by many youth, especially females as an inspiration to them, Nyamutoro has some advice for them in order to succeed in life. The national female youth MP says the only way for young girls to succeed is by staying in school in order to get an opportunity to chase their dreams.

“A decent, quality education is the only way to become a successful empowered citizen in the future. Empowerment comes with a voice that has meaning, that can count and has a say in society,” she says.

“Be the kind of woman that you would be proud of as a mother. As a girl child, ensure the character you dream of is what you live. The choices you take should not affect the future of your future children, country and those around you.”

Teenage pregnancy

Commenting on the issue of teenage pregnancy which has skyrocketed during the Covid-19 lockdown, Nyamutoro says it is high time drastic measures are put in place to end the problem. She says there is need to change the approach.

“How do you explain that society is recording high numbers of young girls getting pregnant? Teenage pregnancy cannot be addressed in a boardroom of leaders to sit down and say we are ending this problem. It can only be ended by us as people because at the end of the day, the girls are impregnated by men either of their age group or older. What happened to morality and sex education that is passed to them by parents, teachers and every person near them?

“How shameless could a man be to have sex with a girl? We have legislative agenda, policies and laws against defilement but people are not implementing them. We can’t have more laws being passed when they are not implemented. The problem can only be ended with a multisectoral approach and this means we must all be on board.”

Nyamutoro emphasizes the need for everyone to play their role in ensuring a decent life for not only the girl child but youth at large.

Youth agenda

Asked what she brings to the table for the youth, Nyamutoro says this starts by inspiring the changes that we want for the young people. An ordinary young person in Uganda goes through a lot of frustration before tasting fruits of success. It is not easy to grow up in an environment with guidelines that could lead you to success.

“The high unemployment rates, challenges to attaining quality education, hurdles of lifetime worsened by the Covid-19 pandemic are what we want to try and solve.”

Nyamutoro says as a single individual, she can’t single handedly solve all the problems but insists that working together with other youth MPs, they can make a difference.

“We (youth MP) unanimously agreed that our number one goal should be to drive the youth empowerment agenda. We want to see how we can use these offices entrusted to us to create a platform and better environment for young people to better their lives.”