Imagining Gender Futures in Uganda – IMAGENU


Start date: 1 October, 2018 End date: 30 November, 2024 Project type: Research projects in countries with extended development cooperation (earlier Window 1) Project code: 17-07-AU Countries: Uganda Thematic areas: Gender equality, State building, governance and civil society, Lead institution: Aarhus University (AU), Denmark Partner institutions: Gulu University (GU), Uganda University of Copenhagen (UCPH), Denmark Project website: go to website (the site might be inactive) 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.


Midterm report
The IMAGENU project is halfway through its project period. The researchers are working on their individual projects and the PhD programme in GU has been accredited in 2020. Four annual workshops have been held with international scholars and local stakeholders presenting and commenting on the research projects of the IMAGENU researchers.
Data collection and the dissemination of research have been ongoing since the beginning of the project, but the general project progress was affected by the covid-19 pandemic and lockdowns in 2020 and 2021. In this period fieldwork was limited. Some researchers were able to adjust their fieldwork to an online format through social media, whereas others had to wait to resume fieldwork. Research findings have been presented at various conferences - online and onsite. International collaborations with researchers have been established as well as collaboration with local NGOs, policymakers and cultural institutions. IMAGENU continues to collaborate with BSU around PhD courses and related studies. In a common writing retreat in Denmark researchers have started working on a common edited book and a journal special issue.
The PhD students are progressing well. One has finished all fieldwork and another has almost finalised fieldwork. They have both been doing relevant courses and readings and are progressing with the writing of their theses. Both PhD students have had study stays in Denmark in 2022 and have been following relevant PhD courses.

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