I live in Uganda where I work for Women’s Organisation Network for Human Rights Advocacy (WONETHA) as a Sex Worker Advocacy and Media coordinator. I am responsible for reaching out to stake holders, law makers and the media to advocate for sex workers’ human and health rights to ensure that the sex workers have access to the necessary services, information and spaces for their well-being and capacity.
I call myself a feminist because I am moved to take action against structural forces that promote the negative environment of patriarchy.
I believe that one of the biggest challenges facing feminists in Africa is the lack of comprehension among many who do not understand feminism. Furthermore, discrimination and power struggles play a big role in disrupting the momentum and derails the movement from focusing on the pervasive threat of patriarchy. This is also not helped by the perception, and sometimes the experiences of many activists who find that feminism seems to only be for those who are educated and well-spoken.
At the same time, there are some who choose to call themselves feminists with the ‘ifs’ and the ‘buts’. In other words, they are only feminists if certain issues are not taken on, or if certain groups are excluded. This fragmentation means that a lot of time is spent fighting the demons within. This does not help the image of the feminist movement at all as we have still not managed to address stereotypes of feminists as being man-haters.
For us to really strengthen the feminist movement, it is important that the African Feminist Charter becomes a living document that provides guidance, but also supports us in calling for accountability to the feminist values. To bring more women from a range of different spaces into the movement, it is important that the Charter be translated in the many African dialects and become a popular tool used in meetings and spaces where women from all backgrounds come together. The experiences of using this Charter in these different ways could be documented and used as a means to show us where we could improve on it.
In my personal life, I have integrated feminism into my life by becoming aware of my own experiences – and looking at how I can advance the feminist goals. I have built my self-esteem and also negotiation skills and advocacy skills to be able to challenge negative effects of patriarchy effectively. In my work, I have reached out to other women by sharing my story, and also to create spaces for them to share theirs as a feminist practice.
I am inspired by women who are able to overcome challenges in their lives, who are able to challenge patriarchy and also who create different realities for themselves. I am also inspired by small gains. Achieving goals one at a time – it gives me hope and courage.