Globally, there has been a campaign to promote participation of females in the entire development agenda in general, but specifically in the higher education sector. Public universities in Uganda have attempted to ensure that female stakeholders are given a platform to participate in leadership and governance of their respective universities, though still seemingly scanty. The study therefore explored perceptions of female student representative participation in leadership on public university councils in Uganda. The Ladder of Citizen Participation was utilised to get meanings and understandings from the perceptions regarding levels of participation. The study deployed a phenomenological research design with unstructured interview, transect walks and letter writing methods and a two-level narrative analysis technique used to capture plots and themes from the narratives. Findings reveal that female students do not have sufficient ground to effectively participate in leadership and governance due to several constraints. The revealed constraints include lack of sufficient leadership capacity, insufficient resources and gender stereotypes. It is therefore concluded that participation of female student representatives on public university councils in Uganda was mere tokenism! It is therefore recommended that the higher education sector should deliberately support female students towards effective participation in leadership. This can be done through building their capacity in leadership and governance and providing sufficient resources to enable them easily pursue their leadership and governance mandate, among others.
Key words: Participation, female students, leadership, governance, public universities.
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