“Uganda has come a long way, with the first-ever 50 per cent female representation on the Council of the Uganda Law Society emerging from the September 2020 election,” noted Pheona Nabasa Wall, former President of the Uganda Law Society. “However, the ills that still plague women in the legal profession are the generic ones; the study clearly shows us that we need unconscious bias training to overcome the tallest hurdle to gender equity – mindset change.”
The Uganda study noted that overall women make up 49% of the legal profession in that country, with 40% working at a senior level. The public sector has the highest level of female representation at 57%. The study shows that 62% of those senior public sector roles are occupied by females.
“Gender equality is one of the priorities of my presidency,” commented Sternford Moyo, President of the International Bar Association. “Much has been done to advance gender equality in Uganda and the data in this report is a positive indication of these efforts. However, there are still far too many women who are denied a formal education in this jurisdiction, and therefore denied the opportunity to progress in their working life and become whatever they want to become.”
The report quotes Lady Justice Victoria Nkwanga, a High Court Judge, saying: “There are reasons to be hopeful about the progress. Yes, there is a big reason to be hopeful. We’ve seen changes over the period, but the barriers are still there and most of the barriers have been created in the minds of the women.”
This nine-year study, titled “50:50 by 2030: A longitudinal study into gender disparity in law” focuses on the number of senior women across private, public, judicial and in-house legal sectors in 16 jurisdictions. The aim of the project is to identify the statistical disparity between men and women at senior levels in the legal profession on a global scale, and identify whether diversity initiatives introduced to address this disparity are having any impact.
The Uganda-focused report shows that a reasonably even number of women are engaged in legal education, but this contracts sharply at the point of final qualification. There is strong representation of women at junior levels of the profession, and the public sector and judiciary in particular have a good balance of women in senior positions.
Overall the report concludes that “some law firms and public sector institutions are trailblazing a path for women to progress in the legal profession. However, significant challenges of gender-biased attitudes, resource limitations and unreported misconduct add to the importance of continuing to invest and advocate for equality for women in the legal workplace going forward.”
So far three reports in this series have been published, focusing on England & Wales, Uganda and Spain. The fourth report – this time on Nigeria – is due to be published in early March 2023.
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