Gender relations and economic empowerment of women in Gulu district- northern Uganda
This study examined the influence of gender.relations on the economic empowerment of women in Gulu district in Uganda. The study specifically explored the gender relations affecting economic empowerment the extent to which the gender policy addresses economic empowerment and the effect of gender relations on economic empowerment of women. The research design was a cross-sectional survey. A total of 106 respondents, including 8 key informants and 98 employees, participated in the study. Primary data was obtained using a questionnaire and a structured interview guide. Data was analysed using descriptive, inferential and qualitative methods. The findings have revealed that: Gender relations, that encourage women to have free access to economic resources and that do not restrict women from devoting time to their businesses were not being promoted in Gulu 'communities the gender relations were not supportive to women being enterprising. Communities in Gulu including leaders still hold to the traditional gender orientations that take women as being biological and universally inferior to men in ways that cannot be changed to enable women to be enterprising. This orientation· is influenced by the traditional cultural rules of the generations that have come before them and are restrictive to women being out of the closet and assuming leading economic and social roles. The gender policy has not yet helped to change this picture. The policy has largely remained on paper due to failure by the local governments to fund sensation and education to implement the gender policy. Policies have not been able to support community programs that promote gender equality. The local and central government officials have not been active in starting strategies and initiatives to promote good gender relations. This has resulted into women feeling inferior and generally perceiving themselves as a weaker gender. The self defeating attitudes have negatively affected the performance of even the few enterprises owned by women. Developing emancipative orientations in the communities and mass expectations of gender responsive and inclusive practices may increase women's empowerment throughout society: The study recommends that: The Uganda ·gender policy be geared to promoting women's rights and tap their enterprising potential. The gender policy should underscore the role of gender equality in sustainable development at the community and family level. Community leaders and local governments should be educated the role of gender equality in promoting women's empowerment. Initiatives to strengthen women's social participation and empowerment especially at family level should be popularized to enable women have control over their lives and exert influence in society.