I live and work in Kampala, Uganda for a Women’s non-governmental organisation called Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE). I am a program assistant in the Women in Leadership program and provide support to the program officer and Executive Director to implement programs that increase the number and quality of women in decision-making positions around Uganda. This includes capacity-building workshops, national level advocacy work, proposal writing and research.
I call myself a feminist because I have no other choice. I firmly believe that women’s position around the world is unequal to that of men, and I wish to be part of the force that changes it. Although the word feminist has become an epithet of sorts, I think it is necessary to take on that mantle proudly, and live my life as an example of what a feminist actually is.
Feminists in Africa face a lot of challenges because African women are not only faced with male oppression, but economic and racial oppression as well. There is much to be done if women in Africa are to take a lead the development of the continent. Gaps in healthcare, education and political and social leadership are some of the most egregious and harmful problems facing African women today. On the personal level, the statistics on sexual and gender-based violence across Africa are horrifying, and have far-reaching effects on our women, our community and our development.
I believe that we can tackle some of these challenges by creating spaces for women across Africa to share experiences, success and failures in organising and just provide solidarity to each other. One of the reasons I am excited about the African Feminist Forum is that in sharing our strategies we can become a more powerful force. For this reason, the Charter on Feminist Principles for African Feminists is a critical tool that should be internalised, and disseminated. We also need to have more mentoring among all feminists around organising, strategizing, mobilising and analysis. In particular young women have a lot of energy and new ideas, and older women have a lot of experience and much to teach. Relationships between the two can only be fruitful for the feminist movement. Also, by continuing to wear the feminist mantle proudly and publicly, we can reduce the stigma around it.
In my professional life I have chosen to work in a field directly related to the betterment of African women. I firmly believe that increasing the number and quality of women in leadership goes a long way toward addressing some of the above issues.
Of course, “the personal is political” too. I try to live my life with feminist ideals in mind. I also do a lot of writing personally and feminism and the position of women in Africa is a topic that is never far from my work.
I am inspired by the strength of African women. Hearing stories about, and meeting women who have faced diversity with great strength and grace makes me grateful for the opportunities I have been given, and determined to use them wisely. It gives me the passion and energy necessary to make change in this world and it makes me proud to be an African feminist woman.