Doris M. Kakuru


In Uganda, various stake holders including the government, NGOs, and women activists have undeniably played important roles in the combat for gender equality in primary education. However, there is evidence that success has not yet been realized. This article is based on research conducted to discover why gender inequalities in Uganda’s Universal Primary Education persist despite deliberate measures to eradicate them. Two questions are addressed, namely: does HIV/AIDS contribute to the persistence of gender inequality in rural areas? What is the importance of linking theory and practice in women’s activism in such a context? The findings reveal that HIV/AIDS affects household access to essential livelihood assets prompting responses and pathways incompatible with girls’ schooling. These included girls’ involvement in sex for economic gains, which obviously exposed them to the risk of contracting HIV. A vicious cycle of HIV/AIDS and gender inequality therefore exists despite women’s protracted engagement in activism even in the era of HIV/AIDS. I argue that there is a need to refocus women’s activism towards more practical rather than theoretical engagement. Apparently, there has been too much theorizing about the need to perceive the achievement of gender equality as a social justice issue. Such a perception must be accompanied by corresponding practice rather than just rhetoric. For example, the vicious cycle of HIV/AIDS and inequality could possibly be broken by a radical feminist movement capable of, not only advocating for, but also instituting practical measures to eradicate gendered discrimination at the household level to begin with. In addition, there is a need for the provision of better HIV/AIDS medical care and children’s school requirements particularly in rural areas. Thereafter, we shall comfortably count the achievements of women activism for educational gender equity in Uganda and Africa at large.

Author Biography

Doris M. Kakuru is a Lecturer and Researcher at Makerere University, Uganda. Her research and publications over the years have focused on various issues concerning people affected by HIV/AIDS in Africa. Her current areas of research interest include gender and education, family and childhood studies, social justice, livelihood studies, and competence studies.