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Dr. Ocen on Study I: Cohort of educated young women and the gendered politics of courts

Education is supposed to produce a certain level of agency.  It is supposed to help you innovate, to transform situations and to be relevant. We, the research team, want to know whether we have educated unemployed youth in rural Lango.

We see people going to school, people graduating from school. We want to explore how these young people are agents of social change in their communities – in institutions, such as the clan, the church, community clubs. Agency means causing things to happen.

The area that we will focus on is the gendered politics of courts – could be clan courts; could be LC courts; could be any local tribunal instituted in the community to inculcate law, peace, and order.

One of the issues at stake today, is the issue of land conflict. We shall place specific emphasis on the agency of educated female youth. Particularly, how they navigate spaces to influence processes through which multiple forms of community disputes in rural settings are handled.

Apart from land wrangles, there are other kinds of wrangles which might be intertwined with land wrangles – inheritance disputes, leadership conflicts, and others. We shall explore them as well, in as far as they are connected to our focus on gendered politics of courts in relation to land wrangles.

Dr. Laury Lawrence Ocen, giving his presentation during the first Challenging Categories Project Team Meeting held on 16th April 2021 at the CPAR Ugnada Lira Learning Centre.

Thus, our study will interrogate and investigate, among others, such questions as:

  • Do we have educated youth in rural Uganda, in Lango in particular?
  • What is the interpretation that different actors have of who is considered educated and what is considered education?
  • What is the interpretation that different actors hold of who is employed and what is employment?
  • If they are there, what are those educated youth doing in the countryside?
  • How do they look at themselves as innovators, especially in post-conflict context?
  • How do these unemployed educated youth look at themselves as people with agency in the context of post-conflict situation?
  • Do they feel that they have something to offer through institutional building in the face of youth unemployment?  
  • We are interested in the ways that these young people negotiate livelihoods in the face of unemployment. Are they creative?
  • If government is talking about unemployment, is it the same way that youth are talking about unemployment?
  • How do we, as a clan, look at unemployment as a social and economic challenge?
  • How do the young people look at the same concept of unemployment?
  • How do young women who return from failed marriages cope in their father’s home?
  • How do they get social support even from among fellow women? How are their challenges mitigated by LC and land courts? How do these courts help them to sort out their issues?
  • Are educated unemployed youth shaping ideas, shaping processes, shaping strategies around which these courts are handled?
  • How do they then negotiate their claims for land and identity within their father’s clan to which they have returned after a failed marriage?
  • How is education helping these female innovators to respond to the hegemony of patriarchy?

Dr. Laury Lawrence Ocen’s interpretation of Study I of the research and advocacy project: “Challenging Categories: Educated Unemployed Youth in Rural Uganda” is derived from his presentation at the first project Team Meeting that was held on Friday, 16th April 2021, at the CPAR Uganda Lira Learning Centre. Dr. Ocen is the project Co-Investigator and Study I is led by him.

Featured photo: At the first project Team Meeting, Ms. Sharon Acio Enon and Ms. Ann Gumkit Parlaker, young innovators, two of the five, under the mentorship of Ms. Norah Owaraga, CPAR Uganda Managing Director, and who are functioning as research assistants to Dr. Ocen and whom he is also training and mentoring to be good researchers.

Photos credit: All photos in the post were taken by Emmanuel Owaraga, who is part of the team of the project Media Consultant, Mr. Philip Luswata.

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