When I worked in a law firm, I realized that that was not my calling, because I am person who likes to support people in need. But when a person comes to a law firm, most times it is about how much money do you have for this work. And most women who would come, did not have the money. So that drove me to work with NGOs and I started a number of initiatives.

In 2006, I had the knowledge, I asked:

Why don’t I go home, where I am married in Kitgum and Pader?

I said, I am a resource person, why do I need to sit in Kampala? I said, I am a lawyer, I can do my lawyering elsewhere. I went to Pader and I started a women’s organisation. At that time, many women were coming from captivity. They had so many challenges. They had lost children.

Ms. Akullo Betty giving her speech during the Challenging Categories launch ceremony at the CPAR Uganda Lira Learning Centre on Saturday, 17th April 2021.

When I went to Pader, there was no power, and I was: should I really stay in this place? There was no water, but I sustained my stay because I loved what I was doing. And I have done great work in the region. I am happy that a Lango girl has contributed to Acholi. My Acholi people treat me so well because they know I am a resources person.

But, when I left Kampala, my lawyer friend said:

“Betty, why do you have to go to the village? I don’t think you are a lawyer.”

Many times, when we go to work – and they see people going to offices, they say that person is working. But there is work that we do that is not recognised. And sometimes this work is mainly done by women. Girls who leave university and other institutions, go back to do this work.

You find her cleaning the home; caring for the sick; and they say, these people are useless, what are you doing here, you have not got a man? I know boys also have their challenges, but for us girls, we are forced, why are you still home, don’t you see your friends are married?

I am very happy that this study (the Project: Challenging Categories: Educated Unemployed Youth as Institutional Innovators in Rural Uganda) is going to look at the issue of work.

The ten young innovators under the mentorship of Ms. Norah Owaraga, CPAR Uganda Managing Director who are going to directly participate in implementing the Challenging Categories project, as research assistants and as researchers. Click here to read more about them.

This text is extracted from the speech that Ms. Akullo Betty gave at the Challenging Categories project launch ceremony at the CPAR Uganda Lira Learning Centre on Saturday, 17th April 2021. Ms. Akullo is a child from Lango, married in Acholi. She is a lawyer and a gender activist. Her initial view of the Challenging Categories project is: “The composition of the team that is going to do the study – we have women and men; boys and girls. I am happy that women are there. Most times, women are not recognised. I am happy that the team is going to build the capacity of both boys and girls to do this study and to influence situations in their communities. We, a team of four, (policy working group) we are going to work together with the team of investigators, and we are going to pick up some policy issues. And we believe that we are a great team and we will be able to do a lot. I will be supporting the team with knowledge as far as gender issues are concerned.”

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Featured photo: Ms. Akullo Betty attending the first team meeting of the challenging categories project that was held on Friday, 16th April 2021, at the CPAR Uganda Lira Learning Centre.

Photo Credit: All photos in the post were taken by Emmanuel Owaraga, who is part of the team of the Challenging Categories Project Consultant, Mr. Philip Luswata.

3 thoughts on “Akullo Betty’s gender lens on Ugandan’s concept of work

  1. After school I couldn’t strained my mind looking for a job, l just had to be creative by opening some small business but in case any opportunity comes my way, l would give another person to manage while I Carry on with the job

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  2. When you’re at school you have hope that immediately after the course you will get a job but yet it’s not like that. Iike after my course I when to volunteer with some NGO in the village and it’s how l begun pushing on with life otherwise some others wouldn’t have admired to work in the village

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  3. What Mrs Betty Akullu is saying is very true,you find that after finishing university studies and one doesn’t get a white collar job most especially us ladies,you will hear criticism from all directions even from our fellow ladies BTW, they will expect you to either be doing office job or to get married if not some will even start calling you a prostitue,its even worst when your parents are less supportive,some parents will even ask when you are getting married or when you are getting a white job if you start doing something out of what you studied,Mrs Betty Akullu what you did by leaving Kampala for the rural area was what I wanted to do when I graduated but no one supported me

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