In July 2018 the Women’s Probono Initiative (WPI) began providing free legal services to women who cannot otherwise access legal representation in Uganda. Given that Uganda is a patriarchal society, male-centered dominance at the workplace, in families and society at large has created special problems that make it difficult for women to report issues of abuse, violence, discrimination and social inequities that can otherwise be challenged in a free and democratic society. For instance, national statistics in Uganda indicate that more than 1 in 5 women experience sexual violence and that at least 22% of women in Uganda report that they have experienced sexual violence (UDHS, 2016); 77.7% of children in primary schools and 82% of students in secondary school have experienced some form of sexual violence (Ministry of Education and Sports, 2016).
In a 2019 report by the Uganda Parliament’s Committee of inquiry into allegations of sexual violence in institutions of learning in Uganda, the committee noted that there’s a culture of silence and norm not to report cases by women due to beliefs that ‘men can not be rejected’. These traditionally entrenched beliefs are also reflected in some discriminatory laws and practices such as the Customary Marriage Act, 1970 that legitimizes polygamy, inadequate systems to regulate medical service provision to women and children, social acceptance of domestic violence among others. In addition to providing free legal representation, WPI serves as a knowledge hub for research and knowledge management on women’s rights, Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), provision of free legal advice and impact litigation with a bearing on women and girls
A just and equitable society where women and girls
are free from all forms of discrimination and violence
To advance gender justice through promoting autonomy,
voice and influence of women and girls in legislation,policy and practice