Project information

Start date: February 2022

End date: January 2024

Location: Kaliro and Lira districts

The Challenge

In Uganda, the vast majority (85%) of women work in the informal sector – characterised by its poor working conditions, unpredictable earnings and a lack of job protection or social security to help people cope with losses of income. Selling and trading at markets is a vital source of income for many women but the needs of these workers are invisible – they have no rights at work and no platforms to voice their concerns to market leaders.

The safety and security of women market traders is put at risk as they are forced to work in markets with limited sanitary facilities and a lack of street lighting, located in unsafe neighbourhoods. Women also face frequent rights abuses (violence, exploitation) whilst at work.

Markets are typically managed by men, and the exclusion of women in leadership of the markets has resulted in decisions and policies which restrict women’s rights and economic participation. Harmful stereotypes about women’s role in society lead to scepticism and mistrust around women’s ability to lead change within the markets and more widely, which act as further barriers to change.

Our project

In partnership with our longstanding partners Platform For Labour Action (PLA), this project will work with 4,000 market traders (90% women) in Kaliro and Lira districts to build their skills, confidence and collective power to lead transformative change in the markets and beyond. Working collaboratively with women and men at the markets, we will raise awareness of gender equality and women’s rights to participate in decision making using a range of channels including videos, drama and information sheets in local languages.

We will train 100 women in leadership, public speaking and lobbying skills, and these women will act as role models, sharing these skills with their peer traders in women market groups. The groups will identify issues that they want to change and develop strategies to address them, meeting with market leaders and government leaders to present their views and proposed solutions.

Social media, TV and radio shows will help to share the women’s voices more widely. Alongside this, we will work with the groups of traders to build their economic resilience by developing new skills to expand their businesses, for example through improved marketing, product packaging, customer care skills and use of new digital technologies.

What we’ll achieve

  • 3,200 women will have knowledge about gender power relations and democratic processes within their markets
  • 2,800 market women will have improved knowledge and skills in democratic leadership
  • 70% of women’s market groups will demonstrate increased engagement and influence with decision makers (local government, MPs)
  • 1,200 women will be running more effective businesses due to their new skills and connections