Imagining Gender Futures in Uganda – IMAGENU


Start date: 1 October, 2018 End date: 30 September, 2022 Project type: Research collaboration projects in Danida priority countries (Window 1) Project code: 17-07-AU Countries: Uganda Thematic areas: Gender equality, State building, governance and civil society, Lead institution: Aarhus University (AU), Department of Anthropology Partner institutions: Gulu University (GU), Institute of Peace and Strategic Studies, Uganda University of Copenhagen (UCPH), Department of Anthropology, Denmark Project website: go to website Project coordinator: Lotte Meinert Total grant: 9,997,626 DKK

Project summary

IMAGENU will provide new perspectives on gender and futures in Uganda by placing marriage and its decline in focus, showing how this fundamental gender relation implicates livelihoods, health, education and people’s future imaginations. It will investigate new forms of gender relations that are replacing formal marriage. IMAGENU will be comparative in four ways: It will examine male and female situations; trace changes by comparing grandparents, parents, and youth; attend to socio-economic differences; and compare northern and eastern Uganda.

Despite the recent attention to gender issues, there has been little research on trends in the decline in marriage.

The overall purpose of IMAGENU is to enhance research capacity by generating new knowledge about how changing patterns of gender partnerships relate to livelihood, education, and reproductive and mental health issues. This will contribute to development of relevant social gender policies, and create debate in the wider public.

The project design is comparative and will draw mainly on qualitative methods, investigating post-conflict northern Uganda and eastern Uganda. IMAGENU will focus on 4 overall questions:

1. How do men and women imagine futures of marriage and child filiation in light of current far reaching changes in patterns of partnership?

2. How are gendered livelihood possibilities affected by changes in partnership and child filiation?

3. How do patterns of gendered reproductive and mental health affect and reflect changing patterns of partnership?

4. How are changing partnership patterns related to education?

We will collaborate with the NGOs Promundo and International Research on Women (IRW), and BSU at Gulu University.
The backbone of IMAGENU is 4 PhDs and 3 post docs, co-supervised by senior Danish and Ugandan researchers.

We will write scholarly articles and book chapters; produce policy briefs; create public debates through radio and video documentaries.


First-year report:

All researchers have discussed objectives and methodologies for studying gender and partnership. In 2019 fieldwork was started by the researchers in their respective fields in northern and eastern Uganda. This includes interviews about changing patterns in marriage and bridewealth and child filiation; weddings and videos; international relationships; partnerships and the influence of education, international labor migration to the Middle East and its effects on partnerships; marriage disparities between law, culture and reality; marriage and mental health; urban circulation and changes in partnerships; post-conflict implications for partnerships and livelihoods. A household survey on marriage and child affiliation was conducted.
All researchers have started doing interviews with three generations in their respective fields about marriage, partnership and bridewealth. Fieldwork data has been shared at our annual workshop and some researchers have written draft articles and presented papers at conferences.

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