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Parliament Watchdog Connects Ugandans to Women MPs Through Twitter

Uganda's parliament in session. Photo by

Uganda's parliament in session. Photo used with permission from parliament Watch Uganda.

Ugandans are taking advantage of social media to bridge the gap between citizens and legislators, thanks to Parliament Watch Uganda, a virtual tracker that monitors the Parliament of Uganda on a regular basis and provides both relevant data and expert analysis.

On 26 February, 2015, the initiative organized the #MPsEngage Twitter chat with women members of Parliament (MPs) to discuss the topic ‘Making Women Count in Legislative Processes’. Three audiences participated in the chat in real time: the people of Gulu in Northern Uganda, female members of parliament and Uganda's social media audience.

Gulu is a post conflict district in Northern Uganda. It was the center of conflict between the government of Uganda and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Women in the area face many challenges inherited from the war and the general neglect of the central government.

Members of the audience in Gulu asked questions via microphones, which were tweeted to the MPs by a social media expert in the audience.

During the chat, the female MPs were tasked to take stock of their achievements and challenges that they've faced during their term in office.

Ugandan social media users took it upon themselves to comment, quote and direct the attention of their followers to #MPsEngage.

Ugandan journalist and blogger Raymond Qatahar observed:

Jackie Asiimwe, a Ugandan lawyer, asked:

Kollin Rukundo brought up the issue of the marriage and divorce billThe bill, among other things, makes asset-sharing mandatory in a divorce, provides cohabiting partners with property rights and makes marital rape illegal:

Quoting Miria Matembe, a former minster of ethics and integrity, Jackie Asiimwe said:

Daniel Turitwenka, a social media consultant, shared a photo of a participant in Gulu, northern Uganda, in a live phone conversation during the chat:

He quoted one of the participants:

Gulu residents made their needs known:

They decried poor service delivery:

Although the chat took place on Twitter, Denis R Tumusiime noted that female MPs have not yet embraced social media:

As the debate drew to a close, Jackie Asiimwe, the lawyer, noted that engagement should not be a one-off:

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