Bridging gender gaps is a global priority, embodied in the United Nations (2019) Sustainable Development Goal No. 5: “Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.” Its importance is underscored by the insight that countries cannot develop their full potential if gender inequality prevents women from fully engaging in political and socio-economic activities (Gabola et al., 2018; Churchill, Nuhu, & Lopez, 2018).
In Uganda, government efforts to promote gender equality include a National Gender Policy (2007), a Gender and Equity Strategy for Social Protection (2018), and a variety of program interventions emphasizing women’s empowerment, such as the Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Programme, Labour Works Program, and Youth Livelihood Program (Uganda Bureau of Statistics, 2019). But despite notable efforts, women still lag behind men in access to political and socio-economic opportunities. Women remain vulnerable to gender-based violence, own fewer assets than men, make up just 35% of Parliament, and are less likely than men to have paid employment (28% vs. 46%) (Uganda Bureau of Statistics, 2017a, 2017b, 2019; Gabola et al., 2018; Wyrod, 2008).
According to the latest Afrobarometer survey, most Ugandans endorse gender equality and say the government has done a good job of promoting opportunities for women. A majority think gender equality has been achieved when it comes to getting an education and a job. But a sizeable share of the population would still prioritize men when jobs are scarce, and almost one-fifth of women still report experiencing gender-based discrimination.