Uganda: Maternity leave brings protection to women security guards and their employer

All African women work. Very few women work in formal workplaces. Even fewer expect to keep their job when they have a baby, much less get maternity leave. But that is not the case for a group of women security guards in Uganda. As ILO TV reports, in an industry where it's a surprise to find women at work, both workers and employer are finding advantages in unionization and maternity leave.

Date issued: 17 October 2007 | Size/duration: 00:03:04 (6.13 MB)
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Naomi Cassirer, ILO maternity leave expert

I think that maternity protection at work is essential to creating a broader environment that’s conducive to healthy pregnancies, healthy workers.

(Guard calls: Attention!)

The private security industry is growing fast in Africa. Some 15,000 guards work in Uganda’s cities alone. Very few are women

Jane is one. In her last job, she had to quit when her baby was born. Afterwards, she was hired by Tight Security, in Kampala.

Mohamed Allibhai, Managing Director/Owner, Tight Security, Kampala

Uganda Private Security Association

We are trying to get more female guards to join us, but probably because of cultural reasons here, many cannot join us.

Tight Security Guard Evelyn Candiru has been with the company five years. She says her husband was against her work in security. That led to their separation.

Evelyn Candiru, Guard, Tight Security

(Voice over) I am very interested in this job. Especially because I am naturally physically fit. I think I am in the right job.

When Candiru found out she was pregnant, her fears about being fired were laid to rest.

Instead of asking for her resignation, Tight Security simply asked for her due date…. to figure out her maternity leave as set out in the contract.

45 days after the birth, Candiru was back at work. But things were not always like this at Tight Security.

Kabagambe Sabastian, Guard, Tight Security

I feel very happy to see my fellow workers, especially the ladies, get maternity leave.

Kabagambe remembers his work to unionize and sign an agreement with Tight Security

…They were helped by ILO assistance to establish rights at work .for all.

Mohamed Allibhai, Owner, Tight Security, Uganda Private Security Association

These things remove the negative pictures we had about the union and the Ministry of Labour and industrial inspectors and all that. We had a good direction; I think we understood, their jobs function much better now.

Kabagambe Sabastian, Guard, Tight Security

But this time, we have the right of expression. If you have a problem, you raise your hand, you ask the operations manager, or even the managing director himself.

Tight Security is now training women like Jane and Candiru as supervisors. Others are in management…some 25 women in all.

Joseph Kevin Katende, National Programme Co-ordinator, ILO Slaria Project

If you went to Tight Security, they will have no bad words against the unions as of now, because they are regarded as partners.

While Candiru works, Baby Moses is being cared for in her village by some twenty relatives whom she helps to support.

Her dream: to help her family set up a small store, to keep Baby Moses always fed, and to be able to send him to school one day.