This research paper, The Invisible Labourers of Kampala is the outcome of sequential efforts that were carried out by the SIHA Network across the Horn of Africa, to address the situation of the mass population of women street vendors occupying cities and smaller informal markets across the region.
From a historical perspective, vending is one of the oldest occupations by both women and men on the African continent in general and the Eastern and Horn of Africa region in particular. It has always been respected socially, and considered as a decent and honourable way for women to earn a living with the breakdown of traditional and institutional structures heretofore meant to protect and cater for them.
It is estimated that in Uganda, women own 66% of all informal businesses in Kampala and make up a majority of informal workers as well.
The documentary dubbed – The Invisible Labourers of Kampala too, speaks to the plight of women in the informal sector of Kampala, following the stories of Florence, Gloria and Consolata forging a livelihood as women street vendors in the city, confronted by the city authority’s duty to modernize Kampala.
Uganda’s labour force participation is among the highest in the world, with 84% of the population being economically active. The scarcity of job opportunities in Uganda has led the emergence of a bulging un-employed or under-employed and under-productive work force of young men and women. Many of them are forced to take up work in the informal sector, in jobs that are precarious and poorly remunerated, with little access to social protection.
Despite its precarious nature, informal work represents an important lifeline for many of those who participate.