Empowering women: Overcoming barriers to top leadership positions

What you need to know:

  • There are various reasons why women may avoid top positions in the workplace. These reasons can vary depending on the individual and their circumstances

While many obstacles hold women back from participating in the workforce globally, in Uganda, women continue to face unique challenges when it comes to taking on top leadership positions. Despite strides made in recent years, women still shy away from occupying these positions.

According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2022, Uganda ranks 109th out of 156 countries in terms of gender parity in top leadership positions. While the representation of women in the Parliament of Uganda is above the global average, the overall participation of women in high positions remains low. Women hold only 37% of senior management positions in the private sector, and only 36.2% of leadership positions in the public sector.

Today,  we will explore the reasons why and suggest actionable steps that can be taken to overcome these barriers.

There are various reasons why women may avoid top positions in the workplace. These reasons can vary depending on the individual and their circumstances. Some possible factors include:

Lack of representation: Women may not have many female leaders or role models in their industry or company, making it harder for them to envision themselves in top positions.

Gender bias: Women may face discrimination in the workplace, such as the assumption that they are less competent or less committed than their male counterparts. This bias can hinder their career advancement and discourage them from pursuing top positions.

Family responsibilities: Women may be expected to bear most of the responsibility for childcare and household duties, which can make it harder for them to take on demanding leadership roles.

Unequal pay: Women may be paid less than men for the same work, making it difficult to justify taking on more responsibility or working longer hours.

Lack of access to mentorship and sponsorship: Women may not have equal access to mentors and sponsors who can help them navigate the complexities of the workplace and advocate for their advancement.

Impostor syndrome: Women may feel like they do not belong or are not qualified enough for top positions, even if they are highly competent and skilled.

Despite the challenges that hinder women in Uganda from taking up top leadership positions in the workplace, there are several steps that can be taken to encourage them to pursue such positions. These steps include;

Encouraging mentorship and networking to connect women with mentors and role models who can guide and support them in their leadership aspirations.

Providing leadership training programs specifically tailored to women to equip them with the skills, knowledge, and confidence to pursue top leadership positions.

Increasing awareness of the benefits of having women in top leadership positions, including improved decision-making, increased diversity, and better population representation.

Addressing cultural and social norms that discourage women from pursuing leadership positions by shifting attitudes and perceptions about gender roles and leadership.

Supporting work-life balance through flexible work arrangements and parental leave policies to address challenges that women face in balancing their professional and personal responsibilities.

It is crucial to take action to encourage more women to pursue top leadership positions in Uganda.

By addressing the challenges that hinder women from taking up leadership roles, Uganda can create a more supportive environment for women leaders.

With more women in leadership positions, the country can reap the benefits of diverse perspectives and improved decision-making, leading to progress towards gender equality and overall development.

Author: Gloria Besigye

The writer is Head of Operations,  Liberty Life Assurance Uganda Limited