Working For, With and As Women in Uganda

06 Apr 2021

“... [Okusoma tekulimba] loosely translated… Education doesn’t lie. One day an opportunity for which you studied for will come and you will never regret again… ”

- Abbo*

Abbo* is a One Girl program participant and is specifically referring to vocational training - in a trade that could eventually get her a job or lead her to start her own business. She is hopeful that her vocational training will create an opportunity where she can apply her skills, which is, unfortunately, not always the case.

Sometimes, job opportunities are hard to come by or pay too little. 

Sometimes, training is too expensive or the training centres are too far away to travel to. And, sometimes, the job and training opportunities are too unsafe…

One Girl has been working with young women in Uganda since 2019, in partnership with the legends at Action for Rural Women’s Empowerment (ARUWE), through the unique Girls Emerge program.

One Girl in action

Girls Emerge Uganda supports young women with the opportunity to learn critical skills, through targeted vocational training in safe, girl-friendly spaces, supporting them to find valuable and sustainable work within their communities. This program further aims to challenge career pathways traditionally shaped by gendered roles.

“Our work with young women in Uganda raised some questions around the career opportunities available to women (versus men) in the current jobs market in Uganda, and the inhibiting gendered roles and stereotypes linked to women only (versus men only) career pathways and opportunities,” said Dr Chrisanta Muli, CEO of One Girl Australia. 

“What career options currently exist for women? 

What kind of training and resources do they need to access these careers? 

What are the barriers that prevent access to these opportunities?

And how do we break down barriers, challenge gender stereotypes and support women to achieve their dreams?”


Gendered Market Analysis

And that is where this Gendered Market Analysis (GMA) comes in.

This research engaged with a total of 1,080 women aged between 15 - 24 years who had not completed secondary school, and aimed to find out more about what the real employment opportunities are specifically for young women with a primary school education in Uganda. This involved both surveys and in-depth focus group discussions with young women, community members, NGO workers, vocational trainers and traders in both urban and rural contexts in Uganda.

The GMA identified the current career opportunities that exist for young women, and access to training and support that young women have to enter the workforce and engage in profitable, safe, achievable and local professions. 

“Through this research, we are trying to identify the opportunities - beyond the imposed gendered-roles - for young Ugandan women to enter the workforce, be safe, maintain successful careers and break down persistent gendered barriers facing women in the working world,” said Dr Muli. 

New opportunities

The GMA findings highlight six key and emerging Ugandan markets that were identified by key stakeholders as safe and as having plenty of opportunity for growth and success. These are:

  1. Commercial beekeeping 
  2. Clean energy briquettes and cookstoves 
  3. Recycled paper products 
  4. Computers skills
  5. Phone repair 
  6. Baking

These areas have been identified as a basis to further inform One Girl’s Girls Emerge program in Uganda. The range of vocational skills to be offered will be determined by the preferred choice of the program participants and viability of the skills to be turned into a vibrant business venture.

Starting in 2021, 200 young women will be trained and given the option to engage in these ‘new’ vocations, launching Uganda into their next phase of development with a cohort of creative and driven young entrepreneurs. 

Read the Gendered Market Analysis here. Find out more about the Girls Emerge Program and how you can get involved!

The Gendered Market Analysis (GMA) was undertaken in 2019, in partnership with Uganda NaNa DEVELOPMENT CONSULTANTS LIMITED, and Action for Rural Women’s Empowerment (ARUWE). 

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