The army is not sidelining women in its latest recruitment drive, the deputy army spokesperson Major Henry Obbo has said.
The clarification follows public complaints from unsuccessful female applicants. The army targets to recruit 3,000 people into its specialized units. The public outcry followed reports from the countryside indicating that no female applicant had been recruited in several of the regions where the exercise is taking place.
Districts that recorded no female recruits include Nakaseke, Luweero, Nakasongola, Gulu, Amuru, Masaka, Bukomansimbi, Kalungu, Lwengo, Kalangala and Sembabule, among others.
There were also no female recruits, in Kabarole, Kyegegwa and Kyenjojo districts. Meanwhile in Bundibugyo, out of the 20 recruits only two were female. But Obbo said the recruitment targeted both male and female applicants with no specific slots reserved for either sex.
However, he said most female applicants failed health and fitness tests, which are a prerequisite for joining the army. Others were above the required age bracket, did not have the required education requirements and had inconsistent records.
Applicants had to be between 18 and 25 years, single, with a national identity card. The army also targeted persons who completed O-level in 2014.
They were also required to present letters from the local councils. But Lt Col Bahoku Barigye, the acting UPDF political commissar, said that like all other sectors, women will at one point not be able to perform specific tasks.
Barigye said that the army has women, but they are cognizant of the fact that women have unique challenges. He said this is historic and documented that not so many females are members of the security forces, since they go through a special process in which they have to be absent from work.