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By: Peace Musiimenta and Brenda Boonabaana, GREAT Trainers, Makerere University


Two key members of GREAT’s Makerere team, Peace Musiimenta and Brenda Boonabaana, recently received a high-level award for their work incorporating gender into a study of the impacts of development interventions on the human development of communities in northern Uganda following the cessation of war there in 2006. Peace and Brenda are both GREAT trainers, and Brenda was recently delegated the role of project Assistant Coordinator as well. Through the GREAT project Makerere University is set to develop into a Centre of Excellence for training in gender-responsive agricultural research, and we welcome this award as recognition of the high level of quality at Makerere and in the GREAT leadership and training teams. – Hale Tufan and Margaret Mangheni

Having been part of the team of consultants that produced the 2015 Uganda Human Development Report titled “Unlocking the Development potential of Northern Uganda,” it was a great honour for us when the team was recognised with a global award of excellence in Human Development reporting on 6th December, 2016. The award was received by the Executive Director of the Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC), Dr. Sarah Ssewanyana, and the UNDP Uganda Country Manager, Almaz Gebru, on behalf of our team, at the UNDP headquarters in New York.

The journey to this achievement began in December 2014 when EPRC, on behalf of UNDP Uganda, contracted us to lead the “Gender and Human Development” dimension of the project. Our main task was to produce a gender and human development background paper on northern Uganda using the Human Development Framework, where we considered key gender and human development dimensions – education, health, economic empowerment, political participation and decision making, as well as Sexual and Gender Based Violence (SGBV) were considered.

It was interesting to find out that while the North and Karamoja regions of Uganda have been targeted for several development interventions since the end of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) war in 2006, not much has changed in the lives of women and girls before and the post-war era. The majority of women and girls have not gone beyond primary school education, have limited access to health services and productive resources – notably land – have fewer opportunities for economic and political opportunities, and suffer hig  h levels of sexual and gender-based violence. Such challenges continue to stifle their progress and have contributed to the poor human development outcomes for the region and the country at large. This was attributed to the gender blindness of development interventions, persistent gender-based socio-cultural perceptions, norms, practices and beliefs, poverty, and the weak implementation of existing legal and policy provisions. These key findings were later integrated into the final report that is now informing policy and programming towards transformative change in the region.

Participating in this process gave us an opportunity to bring on board the importance of gender in human development debates, especially, bringing to light the existing gender gaps, constraints and appropriate inclusive interventions for improving the lives of women and girls in a post-war region of Northern Uganda. For instance, our contribution was often appreciat  ed by all team members especially the fe  male project team leader (Dr. Sarah Ssewanyana) who was often persistent on giving gender the appropriate space that it deserved during the process. During the various meetings we had, the team leader wouldn’t proceed without hearing from the “gender ladies” as she often called us, demonstrating her commitment to putting gender at the centre of the discussion, and we were humbled to have been entrusted with this the opportunity to guide the team on gender aspects.

It was also a rewarding experience to work with a multidisciplinary team that tirelessly worked on different themes that later made up the report. These consisted of 14 researchers with unique expertise in the fields of gender, statistics, economics, political economy, sociology, natural resources management as well as peace and conflict resolution. This enabled us to work collaboratively towards a common goal. We also had a committed team that formed the steering advisory committee, drawn from the School of Women and Gender studies, Makerere University, UNDP Uganda, Ministry of Finance, Planning and Economic Development, among others, who gave us valuable feedback.

We could not have achieved this award without an inspiring and supportive team of hard working and committed people including great leadership by EPRC and UNDP Uganda that provided a great conducive working environment for us to work as a team.  It was indeed an enriching experience that we shall always draw on for inspiration in the future. At the moment, we are part of the Gender Responsive Researchers Equipped for Agricultural Transformation (GREAT) project and we look forward to bring our experience on board to contribute to the success of the project.

For further details about the award and full report access please follow this link: