This paper discusses the narratives of women’s participation in electoral leadership positions and political spaces in Palorinya refugee settlement, West Nile, Northern Uganda. I use Gaventa’s power cube and the concept of Intersectionality to analyse the narratives as given by the female and male research participants including refugees, I/NGO workers and staff of the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) in Palorinya refugee settlement. The responses were gotten with the support of two field research assistants and my-self by employing qualitative methods of data collection including individual interviews by phone calls and in person interviews and holding FGDs whilst observing COVID-19 guidelines. The paper discusses the factors influencing the participation of refugee women in electoral leadership of the settlement, how women who are elected into leadership are influencing development and make reference to the experiences of women who are in electoral leadership positions within the leadership spaces, in their families and the community at large. The research found that refugee women find electoral leadership an important platform to lobby for their rights and to secure resources and opportunities for their families and communities. However, women are still struggling to find space for participation even when OPM and UNHCR reserved five positions for women through affirmative action. The study found that women who have served in the army in south Sudan would have more chances to be elected into leadership. It was also found that women do not get influential positions and get gendered positions like opinion leader for women, secretary for women among others which reinforce that women are good for women issues rather than general leadership. More so, men are still the ones influencing power and decision making directly and indirectly because they are more educated. The study found that affirmative action is applauded for facilitating the entry of women into electoral politics; however a holistic approach is desired that will invite gate keepers of culture, facilitating education and other ways to ensure women’s full participation. More so, it was found that women who are elected into leadership face are at higher chances of suffering from Gender Based Violence than their counterparts who are not in power. It was also found that intersecting identities like ethnicity, gender, degree of literacy, body dis(abilities) and social status were very important variables to women’s ability to achieve leadership positions. I wrap up in the last chapter with a brief overview of the paper’s discussion and draw recommendations for future research.

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Hilhorst, Thea
Social Justice Perspectives (SJP)
International Institute of Social Studies

Baguma, Michael. (2020, December 18). Participation of women in electoral politics in refugee settlements administration: a case study of South Sudanese in Palorinya refugee settlement, West Nile -Northern Uganda. Social Justice Perspectives (SJP). Retrieved from