The reproduction of inequality through volunteering by young refugees in Uganda

Moses Okech*, Matt Baillie Smith, Bianca Fadel, Sarah Mills

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Research confronting inequality in volunteering has mostly focused on the attribution of its benefits to different groups and communities, with little attention paid towards fundamental factors that shape such inequalities and how these intersect with volunteering opportunities. This paper highlights the importance of volunteering for young refugees in Uganda, both as a means of learning new skills and earning a livelihood. However, evidence suggests that not everyone has equal access to these opportunities, with inequalities primarily distributed along the lines of language, gender, and education. The paper provides a critical examination of the kinds of volunteering organised and promoted by state actors and civil society organisations with a particular focus on access to volunteering opportunities and the ways they can produce inequalities among young people. Based on data drawn from a study among young refugees from South Sudan, Burundi, Somalia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo in four settings in Uganda, the paper explores issues of access to opportunities as a core premise around which these inequalities are shaped. It demonstrates that rather than address social inequality, the obfuscation of these experiences in how volunteering is organised only serves to reinforce the status quo.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
Early online date15 Feb 2024
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 15 Feb 2024

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