6 Promote gender equality and empower women

Where we are?

(UNDP Uganda/Matthias Mugisha 2012)

Between 1991 and 2010, Uganda increased gender parity by 25per cent in primary schools and over 20 percent in secondary schools

By 2003, Uganda had more than 35 per cent women in non agriculture wage employment.

According to the 2012 wage equality survey, Uganda has a female to male wage ratio that is higher than 0.7.

Uganda is one of the eight countries that have reached the target of atleast 30 percent women in national parliament.


The Government of Uganda is committed to gender equality and the empowerment of women to promote socio-economic transformation. Uganda is a signatory to various international commitments, including the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and the Beijing Platform of Action, and subscribes fully to the third MDG of promoting gender equality and empowering women. These and other commitments are domesticated through Uganda’s Constitution, which guarantees equality between women and men, and includes affirmative action measures to increase women’s role in decision-making and participation in the development process. Moreover, the Uganda Gender Policy provides a framework for gender responsive development. These policies and frameworks have resulted in some modest success and the country is on track to achieve some of the key MDG 3 targets.

The NDP defines “gender issues, negative attitudes, mind-set, cultural practices and perception” as a key binding constraint to socio-economic development in Uganda. Through this Plan, the challenge of women’s decision-making at the household level, which is exacerbated by high levels of gender-based violence, will be addressed. It is noted that 59% of ever-married women aged 15 to 49 have experienced some form of physical and/or sexual violence. However, some progress has been made. Notably, the ratio of girls to boys has reached 1 for primary education and recent increases in the ratio for tertiary education mean that this indicator is on track to reach parity by 2015. Progress has also been made at secondary levels of education, where the ratio stood at 0.84 in 2009 compared to 0.79 in 2000, although this is insufficient if this indicator is to be attained. The affirmative action of additional points to female applicants who wished to gain entry to university resulted in an increase in tertiary enrolment for girls, particularly in 2004.

The share of women in wage employment in the non-agricultural sector, another key indicator of women’s empowerment, has declined from 39% in 2002/2003 to 28% in 2005/2006. This is an indication of continued gender disparities in the labour market and is exacerbated by other differences confronting women, such as less secure employment, lower skills levels and lower wages. Moreover, although women comprise an estimated 70% of those working in agriculture, women experience unequal access to, and control over, important productive resources, notably land, which limits their ability to raise productivity and even move out of subsistence agriculture.

Uganda’s policies on affirmative action have steadily increased the share of women who take part in political decision-making at all levels of society.

Through the National Development Plan, government recognizes that critical gender inequalities remain, the outcomes of which contribute towards stalling progress on many MDGs and overall national development. Many of these gender inequalities are magnified in post conflict areas of the north. The Plan also emphasizes that levels of sexual and gender-based violence are unacceptably high in Uganda, with 40% of women compared to 11% of men having experienced sexual violence in their lifetime (MOH 2006). Moreover, access to justice for victims of violence is considered extremely weak, as are prevention and treatment services. It is particularly worrisome that the first sexual encounter of 25% of girls is associated with the use of force (UDHS 2005/2006).

UNDP's work in Uganda

  • Following a Shs 27million ($10,000) grant from UNDP, Aporu Womens’ Group in Panyangara Kotido district bought a grinding mill, brick laying machines, 47 heifers and ox ploughs, which have enabled them generate income that is directed to a revolving fund to provide start-up capital to members who wish to start businesses (Photo: UNDP Uganda)

    Empowering women to improve livelihoods

    Six years ago, Rosemary Arenger, 28 was in bad shape.“I was a drunkard and too poor to help myself and my family. My husband was amore

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Targets for MDG3
  1. Eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education preferably by 2005, and at all levels by 2015
    • Ratios of girls to boys in primary, secondary and tertiary education
    • Share of women in wage employment in the non-agricultural sector
    • Proportion of seats held by women in national parliament