Govt bans minis, women trousers at workplace

The Public Service ministry has outlawed short dresses in office.


• Public Service ministry issues guidelines for civil servants nails hair and garb
• Those who dress inappropriately to be barred from entering office
• Enforcement (policing) the dress code though might be a challenge

KAMPALA – Uganda’s female public officials must not wear tight-fitting dresses and trousers to work, the Public Service ministry has said.

The ministry also warned women against wearing dresses or blouses that expose their cleavage and brightly-coloured hair or hair extensions to work.

“Skirts or dresses should cover their knees whereas the tops must cover their backs and navels,” the ministry said in a notice signed by Permanent Secretary Catherine Musingirwe.

The new code also bans chandelier earrings and other such jewellery.

“The fingernails should not be longer than three centimetres, should not be multi or brightly coloured,” the statement added.

Male public officials, on the other hand, must wear neatly pressed trousers, long-sleeved shirts and neckties.

Should they choose to wear suits, they should be dark green or brown, navy blue, grey or black suits. Their shoes must be black or brown.

Both genders have been discouraged from wearing open shoes unless they have a medical condition that requires them to.

They should also keep their hair short.

According to Musingwiire, it has been observed that public officers have continued to dress in a manner that does not portray a good image of the service.

That, she adds, does not fall within the generally accepted standards of the community.

“Responsible officers should bring the content of this Establishment Notice to the attention of all public officers for information and compliance,” says the notice.

Guidelines on dress code are not entirely unheard of.

According to the Standard newspaper of Kenya, Strathmore University get a guidebook on what not to wear.

The paper reported two years ago that Strathmore University male students are not allowed to wear jeans, sneakers, trainers and flip-flops.

On the other hand, the females are not allowed to wear skirts or dresses whose hemlines are above the knees once the wearers are in a sitting position. The paper said then that the students are also not allowed to coiffure afros and dyed hair.

Though not in that Standard newspaper article, the reason Strathmore University introduced the dress code in 2010 thereabouts was to prepare the students for workplaces where decency is appreciated.

In a related development, in May, two Makerere University female students wore dresses that exposed their bottoms and thighs. The university’s dean of students later summoned the two students over charges of disrepute.

Stella Nyanzi, a researcher, later weighed in.

She wrote on her Facebook wall that ‘policing and punishing adult women for what they choose to do with their bodies in 2017 is appalling archaic misogyny’.

“If you feel so proper, manly, moral and respectable, please sew all women long opaque sacks to wear in public and save your loins from erecting in response to our raw red-hot bodies,” Nyanzi posted then.

The challenging bit with dress code is usually the enforcement.

Even the Parliament of Uganda that has very many policemen and policewomen manning its entrances and checks whichever stranger goes there has never stopped journalists wearing jeans trousers and T-shirts, which then are barred from wearing to the House, from the precincts of the House.




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