Uganda – Gender and women’s rights


3.2 Environment

(…) Gender issues manifest in such businesses, such as; men continue to receive the most benefits of the mining industry, women often bear the disproportionate share of social, economic, and environmental risks that sometimes arise from this sector. Women employed in mines work under unsafe conditions often characterized by meager pay, sexual harassment, poor sanitation, domes c violence and exposure to hazardous substances such as mercury among others. It has also been argued that health impacts are felt disproportionately by women as they tend to be primarily responsible for caring for the health of family members.

3.3 Labour Rights


The Government has created conducive working environment that allows for businesses to thrive. As such, businesses have become a major source of employment for Ugandans especially the youth and women.


Notwithstanding the progressive legal regime, there are a number of abuses experienced by especially vulnerable groups like women, people with disabilities and youth. The field findings revealed glaring gaps in labour administration in the country particularly in the business sector. No ng that whereas each district is mandated to have a labour officer, due to budgetary limitations and varying priorities at the district level, many districts do not have substantive labour officers in place. Those in place raised a concern of difficulty in executing their jobs due to under-funding to the labour functions, lack of transport to carry out routine and effective supervision and corruption, which hinders compliance to their rulings. Some of the labour officers also highlighted challenges of information asymmetry between the centre (MGLSD) and the local governments.

The consultations also revealed that women comprise of the majority of labour force in the Planta on Agriculture and informal Sectors—which still face challenges around regulatory and protective measures. Casualization of labour is also ripe within these sectors. It was further revealed that cases of occupational and safety health hazards of women in manufacturing and production industries have increased. It was also shared that workers are employed without formal contracts hence no job security as well as limited access to remedy for human rights abuses by business operations including delays or lack of compensations in case of workplace accidents. In some companies, management was not in support of their workers joining trade unions since they consider it that it affects the productivity of workers. It was also reported that employees are often exploited by companies to work for long hours and are often poorly remunerated. This was reported to be common in the planta on and construction companies. It was further established that many employers in the business sector do not comply with the laws guaranteeing labour rights.

Uganda Human Rights Commission highlighted an emerging human rights concern of trafficking of persons abroad for work. It was noted that most of the victims were women and youth. The commission also highlights that there is no clear reporting and response mechanism for those caught up in violations abroad. It was further noted that despite registration and licensing of companies to regulate this business, many fraudulent companies were not fully complying with the established guidelines thus exposing Ugandans to violations of their rights. During stakeholder consultations the issues raised include; negative impacts of externalization of labour where youth especially girls were taken to work abroad without contracts. Subsequently such victims experience abuse of rights, physical and psychological violence and lack of protection while abroad.

3.8 Women, Vulnerable and Marginalized Groups

Human rights instruments set out obligations and commitments to ensure equality and non-discrimination. These are highlighted in various human rights instruments at international, regional and national levels including the following: SDG 5 gender equality and women empowerment , 8 on decent employment and 10 on reducing inequalities within and among countries, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Convention on Elimination of All forms of Discrimination Against Women, African Charter on Human and Peoples Rights and the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol), the Constitution of Uganda under Chapter Four on the Protection and Promotion of Fundamental and Other Human Rights and Freedoms, the National Equal Opportunities Policy (2006), the National Gender Policy (2007), the Persons with Disability Act (2020) and the National Policy on Disability (2006).

Despite the positive strides taken to provide legal protection for vulnerable groups, gaps persist and certain groups remain susceptible to suffer negative consequences of business operations. In particular, those that are already marginalized or excluded in society – as is often the case for women, minority groups, migrants, and persons with disabilities and persons living with HIV/AIDS.


Women: Women continue to face significant violation of human rights especially in employment in business operations. The National Social Protection Policy (2015) indicates that there are enormous risks, which include low pay, job insecurity, limited labour mobility, discrimination, sexual harassment, lack of maternity protection and poor working conditions. There is also a significant pay gap between men and women in Uganda. About 85 percent of the paid workers are employed in the informal sector without formal contracts and have no social security. Approximately 33.8 percent of the workers in the private sector earn less than Shs 50,000 per month. Agricultural wage workers, the majority of whom are women, receive the lowest wages. The findings from the consultations showed sexual harassment of female workers and coercion into sexual activity with employers to access employment or salary payments. These cases were largely under-reported due to fear of negative repercussions on the victims. If these challenges are not addressed, women will continue to bear the burden of violations and abuses of human rights in business operations and remain at the periphery of social protection and development.

Over the past few years, there has been strong initiatives to protect women’s property rights in Uganda. However, due to social constructions of gender and traditional underpinnings, challenges remain in implementation and enforcement of these measures. Ownership of land by women has been affected by increased demand for land for foreign direct and local investments. Considering the extractive industry, women often bear the disproportionate share of social, economic and environmental risks while men primarily capture the benefits of the industry. Women employed in mines work under unsafe conditions often characterized by meagre pay, sexual harassment, poor sanitation, domestic violence and exposure to hazardous substances such as mercury among others. Environmental degradation, often caused by business operations, is felt most keenly by women, who bear the greatest burden to mi gate food insecurity, water pollution and shortage and decreased health of families. Women in certain industries such as large-scale agriculture and extractives often lack access to appropriate protective equipment, which exposes them to dangers, and hazards which can affect their health and safety, including their sexual and reproductive health.






OBJECTIVE 2: To promote human rights compliance and accountability by business actors

5.9.1 Empower communities especially vulnerable persons to claim their rights


ii. Conduct community dialogue meetings with rights holders prioritizing women, youth, older


OBJECTIVE 3: To promote meaningful and effective participation and respect for consent by relevant stakeholders in business operations.

4.3.1 Promoting FPIC for communities in all business operations

  1. Review and enact laws guaranteeing FPIC, particularly ensuring meaningful consultations with vulnerable groups, such as women, persons with disabilities, indigenous persons, ethnic minorities and persons living with HIV and AIDS.
  2. Develop and enforce guidelines and policies regarding land acquisition, compensation and resettlement of communities affected by business operations, prioritizing the needs of the most vulnerable, such as women, persons with disabilities and persons living with HIV/AIDS.


OBJECTIVE 4: To promote social inclusion and rights of the vulnerable and marginalized individuals and groups in business operations.

4.4.1 Empower communities to demand for protection and fulfilment of their rights and access to justice.

  1. Educate communities, prioritizing vulnerable groups such as women, persons with disabilities, ethnic minorities and older persons, on business and human rights including access to justice.


iii. Advocate for gender equality through ensuring equal opportunity to both men and women in business operations and promotion of the gender equality seal programme.

iv. Advocate for elimination of sexual harassment in business operations.


4.4.2 Engagement of business operators on human rights

Require human rights due diligence by businesses through comprehensive human rights impact assessments involving meaningful consultation with potentially affected groups, including consideration of gendered impacts of operations and covering value and supply chains.


v. Ensure the establishment and strengthening of gender and equity-responsive internal grievance redress mechanisms in business operations.



OBJECTIVE 5: To enhance access to remedy to victims of business-related human rights abuses and violations in business operations


ii. Provision of government-supported legal aid services to workers, especially vulnerable groups including women, persons with disabilities, persons living with HIV and AIDS and minorities.


iv. Strengthening laws and policies providing for effective, inclusive and gender-responsive remedies on business-related matters.



5.1 Ministry Of Gender, Labour and Social Development

  1. Provide leadership in implementation of the action plan.
  2. Create awareness and appreciation for the National Action Plan.
  3. Ensure the development and use of guidelines on human rights in business operations.
  4. Build and strengthen the capacity of duty bearers in human rights based programming.
  5. Monitor and evaluate social impact assessments in infrastructural developments.
  6. Create and establish effective mechanisms and networks to enhance coordination of implementation of the NAP.
  7. Undertake assessments and audits for compliance to human rights by business operations including state and non-state entities.
  8. Mobilize resources for implementation of the action plan.
  9. Monitor and evaluate the contribution of the national action plan to development and reduction of human rights abuses and violations by business operations.
  10. Monitor and evaluate the implementation of this action plan.


Budgeted outputs in Annex I include:

  • Advocate for gender equality through ensuring equal opportunity to both men and women in business operations and promotion of the gender equality seal. (Objective 4.0)
  • Advocate for elimination of sexual harassment in business operations (Objective 4.0)
  • Strengthen social protection interventions for the vulnerable groups affected by business operations. (Objective 4.0)