When we consider empowering women in Uganda we cannot ignore the cultural barriers which affect the progression that women can make . Culture has a huge impact on the way we perceive the world in which we live, in turn it can have an impact and how women are treated across the world. There are a number of barriers to women entrepreneurship in Uganda and it is important for us to understand the challenges that women face in order to support them effectively. We will be outlining three factors affecting women working or starting their own business in Uganda.
1) The social structure in some parts of Africa is hierarchical meaning that men are perceived as the head of the household, as a result women are not encouraged to make decisions without consulting a male figure first, which could be her father, brother or the village headman, this is a very big challenge to women entrepreneurs in Uganda. Traditional sexism deprives women of the independence to make decisions about their lives, bodies and their family. It is vital to challenge this social structure in order to protect women from abuse while giving them the freedom to make decisions about their life.
2) The lack of support from men in the community who may wish to restrict women from being financially independent. Some men believe that financially independent women may become rebellious or difficult to control, therefore they are not supportive of women working or starting their own business. Tradition plays a large role in prescribing gender responsibilities, which most often leads to women being homemakers. If a women decides to start her own businesses she is going against the grain of what a woman should be/do and this can bring its own set of challenges.
3) As previously mentioned women are perceived as the primary care givers, therefore it can be difficult for women to find a work-life balance . Woman may call upon family members and neighbours to look after their children. Working long hours can be difficult for women who are the primary care givers for their children. However making clothes can help women to establish a work-life balance as they can make clothing from home or during the day while their child is a school.
Women can be hindered by both internal and external barriers that are created to prevent them from progressing. However despite this women are rising above the social and cultural challenges and creating a better life for themselves and their families. We hope that attitudes towards women and working life will change through education, communication and training. Kids Club Kampala has been a part of this by providing women with training, skills and advice to equip them with the tools to start their own business which will in turn give women a better future. Please click here to learn about why we are sending sewing machines to Uganda and how you can help.