For various reasons, women have played key roles in changing the course of world history. In France and Russia women have been particularly effective. In the course of the French Revolution of 1789, besides demonstrations in Paris and other cities, the Parisian women marched twelve miles from Paris to Versailles to demand that the king help them address their difficulties including food shortages and rising prices of bread. The king, his family and bags of grain were moved from the comforts of Versailles Palace to Paris where voices for change were loudest. The National Assembly also relocated to Paris from Versailles. Women also provided places called salons where meetings took place to discuss national and other issues.
Food shortages and rising prices also caused Russian women to help change the course of Russian history. In February 1917, the situation was so serious that women stood in long lines for bread having worked in factories for twelve hours. A police report sheds light on the gravity of the situation.
“Mothers of families, exhausted by endless standing in line at stores, distraught over their half-starving and sick children, are today perhaps closer to revolution … and of course they are a great deal more dangerous because they are the combustible material for which only a single spark is needed to burst into flame”. Instead of advising taking corrective action, the Tsarina, wife of the king wrote to him that there was nothing to worry about. But when the demonstrations got serious and caused the factories to be closed in St Petersburg, Nicholas II ordered troops to disperse demonstrators and shoot them if necessary. At first the troops obeyed and acted as authorized killing some demonstrators. Then they changed their mind and joined the demonstrators.
The situation got out of control. “The Duma or legislative body, which the tsar had tried to dissolve, met anyway and on March 12 established a Provisional Government that urged the tsar to abdicate. He did on March 12” (J. I. Spielvogel 1999).
The Russian revolution shows that women can be a powerful force in regime change and NRM should take Uganda women seriously and comply. They are even more powerful when they work with others in this Russian case with soldiers and members of parliament.
UDU has been arguing that when people work together they succeed. We have called on Uganda women, youth and workers, peasants, legislators, religious leaders and security forces to join hands and bring about peaceful change in Uganda where NRM has failed to deliver including food and jobs.