Sylvia Tamale

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Sylvia Tamale
Sylvia Tamale

1967 (age 50–51)
Alma materMakerere University
(Bachelor of Laws)
Law Development Centre
(Diploma in Legal Practice)
Harvard University
(Master of Laws)
University of Minnesota
(Doctor of Philosophy in Sociology)
OccupationLawyer, academic, and activist
Years active1987 - present
Home townKampala

Sylvia Rosila Tamale is a Ugandan academic, and human rights activist in Uganda. She was the first female dean in the Law Faculty at Makerere University, Uganda.[1][2]


Tamale received her Bachelor of Laws with honors from Makerere University, her Master of Laws from Harvard Law School, and her Doctor of Philosophy in sociology and feminist studies from the University of Minnesota in 1997. Tamale received her Diploma in Legal Practice from the Law Development Center, Kampala, in 1990, graduating at the top of her class.[1]

Academic career[edit]

Tamale has been a visiting professor at the African Gender Institute of the University of Cape Town[3] and a visiting scholar at the University of Wisconsin.[4] In 2003 she was condemned by Ugandan conservatives for proposing that gay men and lesbians be included in the definition of "minority".[5] Tamale was the dean of the Faculty of Law and Jurisprudence at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, from 2004 to 2008.[1][6]

Awards and honours[edit]

From 1993 until 1997, she received a Fulbright-MacArthur Scholarship to pursue her studies at Harvard.[1] In 2003, she won the University of Minnesota Award for International Distinguished Leadership for her work at the university.[2][7] In 2004, she was awarded the Akina Mama wa Afrika Award by Akina Mama wa Afrika, an international, Pan-African, non-governmental development organisation for African women based in the United Kingdom with its African headquarters in Kampala, Uganda.[8] In 2004, she was recognized by several women's organisations in Uganda, for her for human rights activism.[9]

On 28 October 2016, she became the first female lecturer to give a professorial inaugural lecture at Makerere University. Her lecture was entitled Nudity, Protests and the Law, inspired, in part, by the earlier-in-the-year nude protest of Stella Nyanzi at the university.[10] In her speech, Tamale called for a revision of the Ugandan laws that discriminate against women.[11]

Other considerations[edit]

In March 2018, Makerere University selected Dr Tamale to chair a select committee to investigate "sexual harassment" at the public institution of higher learning. The report of the committee is expected in May 2018.[12]

She has spoken out in support of the traditional practice of labia stretching, arguing that any comparison to female genital mutilation is invalid.[13]

Selected publications[edit]

  • 1999: When Hens Begin To Crow: Gender and Parliamentary Politics in Uganda[14]
  • 2006: "African Feminism: How Should We Change?"[15]
  • 2011: editor, African Sexualities: A Reader[16]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Mwesigye, Gumisiriza (28 April 2012). "Tamale: A passionate human rights activist". Daily Monitor. Kampala. Retrieved 15 October 2016.
  2. ^ a b Contributor (2 December 2004). "Honouring Sylvia Tamale". Retrieved 15 October 2016.
  3. ^ Gretchen L. Wilson (21 December 2006). "African Female Scholars Share Virtual Lifeline". World Press Africa Quoting Women's eNews. Retrieved 15 October 2016.
  4. ^ "ILS Past Fellows and Visitors (2000-2005): Tamale, Sylvia". Madison, WI, USA: University of Wisconsin Law School. 2007. Retrieved 15 October 2016.
  5. ^ Bennett, Jane (10 October 2011). ""Worst Woman Of The Year": Sylvia Tamale Publishes African Sexualities: A Reader". Cape Town: Association for Women's Rights in Development (AWID). Retrieved 15 October 2016.
  6. ^ "Associate Professor Dr. Sylvia Tamale". Kampala: Makerere University. 2012. Archived from the original on 2012-08-06. Retrieved 15 October 2016.
  7. ^ University of Minnesota (11 January 2007). "Distinguished Leadership Award for Internationals, 2003 Recipient, Dr. Sylvia Tamale, Uganda". Office of International Programs, University of Minnesota. Archived from the original on 13 May 2007. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  8. ^ Evelyn Kiapi Matsamura (6 March 2005). "President accused of using culture to undermine women's rights". Human Rights House Quoting Inter Press Service. Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  9. ^ Contributor (2 December 2004). "Honouring Sylvia Tamale - Outstanding contributor to the advancement of women's rights". Retrieved 18 October 2016.
  10. ^ Musinguzi, Blanshe (30 October 2016). "Makerere professor defends Dr Nyanzi nude protest". Daily Monitor. Kampala, Uganda. Retrieved 12 November 2017.
  11. ^ UJRC (31 October 2016). "Prof. Tamale gives inaugural lecture on nudity, protest and the law in Uganda". Kampala: Uganda Journalists Resource Centre (UJRC). Retrieved 12 November 2017.
  12. ^ BBC News (16 March 2018). "Uganda's Makerere University to investigate sexual harassment". The EastAfrican Quoting British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). Retrieved 17 March 2018.
  13. ^ Akumu, Patience. "Labia elongation: Invaluable culture or dangerous practice?". The Observer - Uganda. Retrieved 24 April 2018.
  14. ^ Tamale, Sylvia (1999), When Hens Begin To Crow: Gender and Parliamentary Politics in Uganda, Boulder, Colorado: Westview Press, ISBN 0-8133-3462-4; reviewed: Parpart, Jane L. (2000), "Review: When Hens Begin to Crow: Gender and Parliamentary Politics in Uganda", Africa Today 47(2): pp. 218-220; and Ottemoeller, Dan (1999), "Book Reviews - Politics - When Hens Begin to Crow: Gender and Parliamentary Politics in Uganda", African Studies Review 42(2): p. 181.
  15. ^ Tamale, Sylvia (2006) "African Feminism: How Should We Change?" Development 49(1): pp. 38–41, doi:10.1057/palgrave.development.1100205
  16. ^ Tamale, Sylvia, ed. (2011). African Sexualities: A Reader. Oxford, England: Pambazuka Press. ISBN 978-0-85749-016-2. with introduction and conclusion by Sylvia Tamale; reviewed Bennett 2011

External links[edit]