THE GENDER DYNAMICS IN CAMPAIGN SPENDING
The gender dynamics in campaign spending
There is a public assertion that spending incurred by female candidates is slightly different from spending by male candidates spend during electoral campaigns. The public also assumes that campaign spending is targeted towards a particular gender.
On last week’s edition of ACFIM Talks, Mr. Agaba Abas, Member of Parliament for Kitagwenda Constituency, Kamwenge district affirmed this assumption mentioning that spending lines may be gender-specific during campaigns. He added that items for female voters may constitute up to 20% of the campaign budget.
He explained that female voters usually organize themselves in economic empowerment groups running different agricultural projects such as goat rearing, beekeeping, fishing. Most candidates usually make donations through these groups. Candidates also usually lobby and advocate for government services such as health centers that may be more essential to women than men in most cases.
Mr. Agaba gave an example of a Health center 111 in Kanara sub-county in his constituency that was constructed after his lobby. The health center provides a maternity wing that serves the women who had been previously moving long distances to deliver. He also put up a private hospital in partnership with Marie stopes an international organization that offers reproductive health services. Women were able to get free antenatal services and free delivery. This definitely won him the women’s vote in Kanara sub-county.
Ms. Nakandi Winnie, female youth leader, Mpigi district youth council, another of the panelists explained that male candidates spend more on women-centred services to identify with the female voters since women already naturally appeal to them. She added that there may be reduced spending for female candidates because of this and men would have to do much more work to sell their candidature to the women since it is widely known that once you get the women’s vote, chances are high that one will win the election.
Ms. Nakandi revealed that campaign spending for women is commonly on matters surrounding reproductive health adding that male candidates spend a lot on gender-based incentives geared to helping women. She described scenarios where voters are seen to behave differently to female and male candidates in regard to demands and expectations.
Mr.Agaba indicated that this outlook on candidates can be largely based on cultural and religious aspects. Women are believed to be more warm, receptive, and hospitable and on several occasions when women are campaigning, voters especially males demand for hugs and greetings. Male candidates in most cases are asked for alcohol, money, and other material items.
Patriarchy stemming from the family causes the disparities in campaign spending because men are known as the leaders and providers naturally. Ms. Nakandi emphasized that male voters expect male candidates to drink with them and expect female candidates to attend burials and be motherly.
On sexual harassment of female candidates by voters, Ms. Nakandi shared experiences on how the “kingmakers” demand for sex in order to garner their support. Mr. Odur Jonathan Member of Parliament for Erute country, Lira district, and Mr. Agaba both confirmed that male candidates are equally sexually assaulted. There are instances where female voters make sexual advances and demand for intimate relationships which is inappropriate.
Further on, Mr. Agaba disagreed with the assertion that male politicians are more inclined to voter bribery and inducement than female politicians. He argued that all candidates are struggling to win, whether male or female, and in the end, it comes to down to morals and how far one will go to win. He gave examples of some rich female candidates who bribe voters even more than men.
Society assumes that female voters are more predisposed to voter bribery and inducement than male voters and it is alleged that female voters are more loyal when bribed. On this behavior, Ms. Nakandi agreed that women unlike men are naturally loyal so they end up voting for those that bribe them.
She advanced that women are usually bribed in kind or offered services that they will remember whereas men usually receive money or alcohol, material items that are easily forgotten. Mr.Agaba added that women are indeed loyal and he admitted that it is for this reason that many candidates develop programs that target women so they can win them over.
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