Female brain drain leaves no brides for Ugandan men

Despite fair gender ratio, men are running from pillar to post to find brides as women opt to leave country in search of work

Godfrey Olukya   | 16.06.2021
Female brain drain leaves no brides for Ugandan men


It is hard for men in Uganda to find brides these days, although the land-locked East African country boasts a fair gender ratio in its population.

Finding a bride has become difficult because three million women have left the country over the past seven years to work in the oil-rich Gulf nations, leaving the young men behind in pains to find partners to tie the nuptial knot.

According to statistics recorded in 2019, Uganda's female population amounted to approximately 22.46 million, while the male population amounted to approximately 21.81 million inhabitants.

Also, 75% of Uganda’s population is below the age of 30. The youth bulge, with high levels of unemployment, and now the young men without wives have raised concerns in the country.

William Kigundu, a pastor at St. John Church in the capital Kampala, has asked the government to stop women from going abroad in search of work.

“It is necessary for the young men to get wives. Lack of women in the country is causing problems.,” he said, adding that in most villages only elder women or underage are left behind, which is not good for the future of the country.

Thomas Kityo, 30, hailing from Kalungu district in southern Uganda, has been running from pillar to post to find a bride.

“Like any normal man I want to raise a family. But there are no young women around as they have all left our village to seek greener pasture in other countries,” he said.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Zadoki Kafumu, 39, said his wife was also lured to work as a housemaid in Oman.

“I am now a single parent rearing three children, she left behind. I want to marry again but there are no women around,“ he said.

Women leaving the country in hordes

According to the Gender, Labor and Social Development Ministry, some 25,605 women have left the country to work as housemaids in Gulf nations and even in Somalia from December 2020 to April 2021.

James Kyagweli,45, a resident of Kasolo village in the central district of Luwero, has another problem. He has left his wife behind in his village and now is apprehensive about her safety, as the village is full of unmarried men.

“I am the only one married in the locality of 12 households. I cannot live in peace knowing that I am the only one with a wife and all my neighbors being bachelors,” he said.

There is an acute shortage of brides in Eastern Uganda as well, where the chief of Iganga district has publicly asked for suggestions from people to reverse the trend.

“It is disturbing that there are no women for our young men to marry. We need to come up with a solution,” he said. He has been in search of brides for his two sons over the past many years.

Asha Sekandi, who represents the Kalungu district in parliament, asked the government to come up with a solution and find work for young women in the country.

Every day thousands of women, some of them university graduates are seen queuing at the offices of labor recruitment agencies to seek greener pastures abroad. Some 210 licensed labor agencies are working in the country. They also train women to work as housemaids, before dispatching them to richer countries.

Hajat Shamin Nsereko, manager of recruiting agency Kauthar, said hundreds of women leave the country every day. “At my center alone, I recruit and train 900 girls every week and they all go out to work outside the country,” she said.

Stephen Mugerwa, a labor officer in Kampala, said these women are paid handsomely in Gulf nations as compared to Uganda.

“Housemaids in Uganda earn less than 100,000 Uganda shillings ($27) per month. They earn 10 times when they go abroad. Those who get teaching jobs at primary and secondary schools get much more,” he said.

More wages in Gulf lure women

According to information available with the Uganda Association of External Recruitment Agencies (UAERA), domestic workers employed in Saudi Arabia earn from $225-$500 per month.

Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Lawrence Egulu, commissioner at the Gender, Labor and Social Development Ministry, said that the number of Ugandans working in the Middle East has grown steadily.

Ronnie Mukundane, a manager at UAERA, said the migrant workers in the Arab nations are sending $500 million in remittances back home every year.

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