Kampala, Uganda | By Michael Wandati | A recent report from the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) sheds light on the regional disparities in employment access within Uganda’s public service sector.
The report underscores that only 39% of Ugandan youth have the opportunity to access public service employment. It is worth noting that the Western region stands out with the highest number of public service employees compared to other regions.
Presenting the 10th annual report on the state of equal opportunities in Uganda for the financial year 2022/2023, Safia Nalule Juuko, Chairperson of the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), emphasized this year’s theme: “Fostering inclusive growth, employment, and wealth creation through equitable participation of all Ugandans in government interventions and programs.” The report emphasizes the vital need for gender and equity compliance in government planning and budgeting.
The report delves into the progress, challenges, and opportunities related to equal access and participation across various aspects of life in Uganda. It highlights the pivotal role that the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) plays in realizing Uganda’s transformation agenda, considering the nation’s diverse strengths and challenges.
Based on data from 30 sampled government Ministries, Departments, and Agencies (MDAs), the report indicates that the Western region boasts the highest percentage of individuals accessing employment opportunities in the public service, at 36%, with the Central region following at 24%.
This high level of government job access in these regions is attributed to factors such as a larger population of educated individuals, proximity to information, access to national data, and the availability of resources compared to other regions.
The report also reveals that males dominate top management positions, occupying an average of 60% of such positions across the sampled agencies. The Western region shows the highest percentage of employees in top positions at 40%, followed by the Central region at 26%. In contrast, the Northern and Eastern regions have the lowest percentages at 12% and 21%, respectively. The Sebei sub-region lacks any employees in top management positions across all sampled institutions.
In the political sphere, the report discloses that women represent 45.8% of Uganda’s Cabinet, indicating a steady increase over the years. While special interest groups like youth and persons with disabilities have representation, ethnic minorities remain unrepresented, hindering their access to national services and resources.
Further analysis of the Cabinet composition reveals that out of the 30 Cabinet Ministers, 12 are female, accounting for 40% representation. Among the 50 State Ministers, 24 are female, accounting for 48% representation. The proportion of women in the cabinet has more than tripled from 14.7% in 2006 to 45.8% in 2021/2025.
The report also uncovers gender disparities in education, with female students facing limited access to programs compared to their male counterparts. The Northern region, in particular, struggles, with only 12.5% of student beneficiaries since the program’s inception.
The Karamoja sub-region experiences the lowest proportion of students accessing the University Students Loan Scheme, with only 1.7% of beneficiaries out of the total 13,405 students in the program. Notably, Amudat district has had only one beneficiary since the program’s inception.
Additionally, only 0.7% of the beneficiaries (94 students) are individuals with disabilities, while young people from ethnic minority groups have not benefited from the loan scheme. Uganda’s education system exhibits mixed performance across regions and gender, with certain areas lagging behind.
The report underscores the importance of equal access to education and the necessity of establishing more secondary schools in underserved regions. It also draws attention to the underfunding of Uganda’s health sector, which heavily relies on private sources of financing, particularly out-of-pocket spending.
Public spending on health, at 7.9% of total government expenditure, falls significantly below the 15% Abuja target committed to by the Ugandan government. For instance, the Bukedi sub-region, comprising seven districts, lacks a regional referral hospital. Out of the 52 government general hospitals in Uganda, approximately 60% of the country’s districts lack such facilities.
The report highlights the chronic shortage of trained health workers, leading to overworking of available personnel. Uganda faces an acute shortage of health workers and specialists across all types of health facilities, particularly at lower-level facilities. Inadequate infrastructure, including health center premises, emergency and referral response systems, and medical equipment, further compounds the challenges faced by lower-level health facilities in Uganda.
To address the inequalities and imbalances observed throughout the report, several recommendations are put forth. These include increased funding, the construction of essential infrastructure, improved representation and participation of marginalized groups, and the promotion of equitable access to education and employment opportunities.
Nalule calls for concerted efforts from the government, civil society organizations, and other stakeholders to implement these recommendations and ensure inclusive growth and development for all Ugandans.