International Women’s Day! Ugandan migrant workers face exploitation abroad.


By Harrison Matovu

OP-ED – International Women’s Day is a global holiday celebrated annually on March 8 as a focal point in the women’s rights movement, bringing attention to issues such as gender equality, reproductive rights, and violence and abuse against women.

However, the day serves as a reminder of the incredible contributions of women throughout history and the ongoing fight for gender equality.

It is also a time to reflect on the challenges still faced by women today, especially those working abroad in countries like Qatar, Dubai, and other Arabic nations.

According to statistics, over 100,000 Ugandans are reported to be in Omani illegally.

The Labor Officer in the Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development Asekol Benard and the Public Relations Officer for Uganda Association of External Recruitment Agencies Ronny Mukundane, says all these travelled illegally and that no one even knows how they travelled there.

“So many Ugandans normally travel abroad to seek jobs abroad in an unlawful manner. This has resulted in many challenges among them. People should understand migration rules whenever going for employment opportunities abroad.”  Mukundane Said.

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In these countries, many women face discrimination, exploitation, and abuse. Ugandan women working in these countries are particularly vulnerable to these challenges.

They often work in low-paying jobs as domestic workers or in other industries with little to no protection under labor laws. They are also subject to harassment, sexual assault, and violence at the hands of their employers and others.

Additionally, women in Uganda face their own set of challenges, including domestic violence and sexual assault.

These issues are often compounded by a lack of legal protections and support systems for victims. Many women in Uganda are forced to suffer in silence, with little recourse for justice or support.

Some of the Ugandan migrant Workers that were exploited while abroad

Ms Judith Nakintu, 38, a single mother of five, in 2019, was recruited by Nile Treasure Gate Company, based in Kiwatule, a city suburb, as a housemaid to work in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia where she mysteriously lost her kidney on December 12, 2019.

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Another Ugandan migrant worker, Ms Milly Namazzi, 26, a mother of two from Kagezi in Kimaanya-Kabonera division, Masaka city, recently died in Egypt after her employer allegedly mistreated her and transferred her from Saudi Arabia.

Ms Shadia Najjuuko, 31, is also said to have died in June 2021 and was buried in Saudi Arabia, but her family demanded that the body be repatriated.

Unfortunately, even some of the women in positions of power in Uganda contribute to the challenges faced by women in the country.

Take, for example, Ms. Kitutu, the minister of Karamoja affairs. She has been accused of diverting supplies meant for Karamoja to her family members and fellow ministers.

This behavior is not only unethical but also undermines the efforts to improve the lives of people in the region, including women.

Women like Ms. Kitutu are part of the reason why women are not given front seats in organizations. It’s essential to have strong, ethical, and competent women in positions of power to advocate for gender equality and create meaningful change. Without them, progress will be slow, and the challenges faced by women in Uganda and abroad will persist.

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In December 2021, Ministry of Gender, Labor and Social Development suspended 15 labor externalization companies for non-compliance and alleged flouting of the recruitment and export guidelines.

On this International Women’s Day, let us celebrate the incredible achievements of women throughout history and recognize the ongoing fight for gender equality.

Let us also acknowledge the challenges still faced by women in Uganda and abroad and pledge to support efforts to address them.

And let us hold our leaders, both male and female, accountable for their actions and demand ethical and competent leadership that prioritizes the well-being and equality of all citizens.










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