In 1995 Uganda adopted the Constitution of the Republic of Uganda 1995 which protected a wide range of human rights including women's rights to equality and freedom from discrimination. Article 33(6) of the Constitution prohibited ‘laws, customs or traditions which are against the dignity, welfare or interest of women’. However, more than ten years later legislation, customary laws and practices have continued to be in force largely due to the lack of political will to confront issues of inequality and discrimination in a holistic and comprehensive manner. This article examines such discriminatory laws against women and the jurisprudence of Uganda's Constitutional Court in the areas of divorce, criminalization of adultery, succession and marriage laws. Using a comparative approach, it observes that these laws conflict with Uganda's Constitution as well as regional and international human rights treaties to which Uganda is a State party. It recommends that discriminatory laws should be harmonized with principles of equality and non-discrimination, and advocates for a litigation strategy

Most cases of violence against women go unreported because women aren't aware of their rights or what help is available. In the rare cases that violence is reported, women are often mistreated and crimes go unpunished.

Stopping violence against women in rural areas of Uganda means changing attitudes towards the rights and roles of women. Experience has shown that women themselves are best placed to develop strategies to educate and motivate their communities to work for equality.

We are working with our partner the National Association of Women Organisations in Uganda (NAWOU) in northern and central Uganda on:

  • Raising awareness about women’s rights and violence against women, for example through radio shows
  • Providing women survivors of violence with information about and access to legal support and counselling
  • Training influential community members to foster a culture of support for women’s rights and provide communities with someone to speak to about violence against women
  • Helping women save their own money and take out loans.

Throughout the world discrimination and violence against women remain a scourge. In numerous countries, discrimination is inscribed in law, from criminal laws to laws on marriage, inheritance and access to property. Even in countries where women have obtained equality in law, discrimination continues in practice. Women are significantly under-represented in decision-making positions. Violence against women prospers, often fuelled by inadequate laws, obstacles to access to justice and inaction on the part of public authorities who tolerate such violations. The absence of adequate sanctions favours a climate of impunity which contributes to the repetition of these crimes.
Yet women are not only victims. Everywhere women are also the main actors in the struggle for emancipation.