Not only is Irene moving ahead as an entrepreneur, she is also inspiring many women to follow suit.
Story by: Hannah Mbago
Inequality in the work place has been a major problem in the Ugandan society for a long time, most especially for women. Women are often discriminated against not only when applying for the job, but even after they get it. According to the State of Uganda Population Report of 2018 (SUPR), the existence of inequality and inequity in terms of earnings is substantially biased against the female. Males are more likely to be in paid employment by 46%, than females. The unemployment rate of females (13%), more than doubles that of the males (6%). And the situation is much worse in rural areas such as West Nile, Acholi, Teso, Busoga, Central 2 and Lango.
For the government of Uganda, the steps taken towards solving the gender disparity issue include making investments in organizations that work towards the economic empowerment of women such as Uganda Women Entrepreneurship Program (UWEP).
Another one of such organizations is the Uganda Muslim Women Civilization Initiative (UMWCI). It is a non-profit organization that works towards empowering women economically. Established in 2016, UMWCI helps women take an economic initiative in their personal lives through a number of investments.
Irene Mugisa is one of the women who have been inspired by UWMCI. She is a mother of four who made a decision to become an entrepreneur after facing challenges in employment.
According to her, pregnancy for a woman working in Uganda always equals pressure at the workplace. From her experience, employers tend to put more focus on the work that needs to be done, rather than taking into consideration the added responsibilities that come with starting a family for the working woman. Apart from maternity leave, the endless prospective leaves of absence for school days and sick days for their children tend to make women less attractive as employees as opposed to their male counterparts. In extreme cases it may even mean the loss of a job.
However, there are still many limitations that come with tackling the problem of inequality at the workplace. For UMWCI, it is getting women’s spouses to support them after they decide to venture into entrepreneurship. For Irene, it is building a client base. And for the country of Uganda as a whole, it is effectively tackling the numerous factors that contribute to the problem of inequality in the workplace for women. Additional solutions have been outlined by Professor Consolata Kabonesa, a gender expert at Makerere University.
According to Professor Kabonesa, there are many efforts being put towards solving the problem of inequality for unemployment in Uganda for women, both on a governmental scale and a private sector scale. However, there is still quite a long way to go in the struggle for substantial equality.
Sources: link to the SUPR http://npcsec.go.ug/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/SUPRE-2018-.pdf