“Using your head”: The importance of being “exposed” for educated young women in northern Uganda

2nd February 2023

In this paper we examine ‘exposure’ as an educated identity among young women in Lira City in northern Uganda.  Socialising with men in bars, “managing” boyfriends, being a good Christian wife, are all ways of mixing experiences of formal education with the challenges of navigating a way forward in the complex and evolving context of Lira City.  Young women strive to acquire skills of hustling, networking and navigating social situations;  They begin to develop these skills during their time in school and university and continue to cultivate this “exposed” identity into early adulthood. Lira City is a landscape where shifting government legislation, the advocacy work of NGOs, the mass expansion of Uganda’s education system and unstable marriages, create new opportunities as well as challenges for young women.

This research project is part of a British Academy funded Youth Futures project: Challenging Categories: Educated Unemployed Youth as Institutional Innovators in Rural Uganda a partnership between UEA, Lira University and The Field Lab, Uganda.