Monday, November 3, 2014


This week there was a passing of the baton at Uganda Revenue Authority (URA).

After ten years at the helm of the tax collecting body Allen Kagina handed over to Doris Akol, the new commissioner general who was previously the commissioner legal affairs and board matters.

It was a memorable occasion on several fronts.
It was the first time a Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) commissioner general stepped down of his or her own free will. And it was the first time a Ugandan woman had handed over to another Ugandan woman at such a high profile job (Briton Anne Brit Aslund handed over to Allen Kagina in 2004).

Akol’s elevation is the latest exclamation mark in the upward movement of women to take positions of authority that were previously assumed to be the preserve of men. Of course URA is unique, of its five commissioner generals three have been women.

A movement, which started with the first parents to send their daughters to school to much derision in the village, which gained further impetus with the importance of women in the NRA’s bush war, the massive enrolment of girls into primary and secondary school,  seems to be maturing with society barely batting an eye lid at Akol’s appointment.

Of course it helped that she succeeds another woman, Kagina for who there were doubts when she assumed the reins a decade ago, but who not only exceeded society’s low expectations but raised the bar for how public institutions and private companies should be run.

"If Akol just coasts a long and leaves the Authority no worse than she found it, she will have achieved a lot. It is scary to think though, what the authority would look like if she took it an even higher level to the extent that her predecessor raised it from its previous levels!
An interesting phenomenon is emerging...

The lady executive, confident in her abilities yet humble enough to keep learning is the mirror opposite of her gender opposite who is often full of bombast, pomp and often long on promise and short on performance.

The lady executive, while embracing her leadership role is more likely to share the limelight with her team than hog all the glory.

In many ways the lady executive encapsulates the say, “Those who tread softly travel far”.
Sadly we see many female executives forgetting the intuitive tendency for the soft touch for some mistaken urge to be like the boys, turning more abrasive and domineering and often than not backfiring. – as was expected.

Woodrow Wilson, the 28th president of the US once said,
“If you come at me with your fists doubled. I think I can promise you that mine will double as fast as yours; but if you come to me and say, 'Let us sit down and take counsel together, and, if we differ from one another, understand why it is that we differ from one another, just what the points at issue are,' we will presently find that we are not so far apart after all, that the points on which we differ are few and the points on which we agree are many, and that if we only have the patience and the candor and the desire to get together, we will get together.”
And the ladies seem to be able to step out of their egos long enough to make things work and work sustainably.

It does not make sense to marginalise half your population, in a poor country like our own we need all hands on deck.  Educate them, train them, give them a chance and as we are finding out in Uganda they will explode all those stereotypes that have dogged our patrilineal societies.

Former prime minister Margaret Thatcher, not exactly the poster girl of women’s emancipation, saw little need to uplift other women arguing that it would not help the cause, they needed to do it without any favours to be taken seriously.
She had a point.

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