The COVID-19 pandemic caused dilemmas for the most vulnerable populations around the world. This article describes the gendered effects of the pandemic on Ugandan women’s rights and wellbeing and provides suggestions for local and international practice. Mandatory lockdowns and movement restrictions created negative implications for women’s attainment of economic, social, cultural, political and civil rights and intensified pre-existing gender inequalities between women and men. The findings of intensified gender inequities, gender-based violence, sexual abuse, scanty access to reproductive health services and social justice, and barriers to participation in education, employment and politics indicate that response measures were not aligned with the government’s legal and policy framework for addressing gender inequities. This research indicates that governments, civil society organisations and the international community must undertake proper gender analysis in designing response measures and guidelines not only for COVID-19 but also in other emergencies. All response measures during emergencies must be coordinated, monitored and evaluated to ensure efficient and effective protection of the vulnerable and conformity to human rights standards.