I live and work in Uganda for a women’s rights organisation, Forum for Women in Democracy (FOWODE). I am the Executive Director and I oversee the overall programmatic area of work (including monitoring and evaluation), as well as contributing to the strategic thinking, fundraising and financial management and oversight for the organisation. Additionally, I do lots of networking with other like minded organisations and sisters especially those with whom we share similar goals.
I call myself a feminist because I believe that women are born equal with dignity, that their rights are indeed human rights and that women should be respected irrespective of their diversities. As women, we deserve to be given space to exercise our voice and our power. I call myself a feminist because I continue to question the structures, systems, institutions that continue to subjugate women.
One of our biggest challenges as a feminist movement in Africa is the continued rise in fundamentalisms. Daily religious, cultural and other fundamentalisms continue to undermine some of the advances that have been made in the area of women’s rights. In addition, we still struggle with “spreading our wings” and “connecting the dots” so as to grow the feminist movement. We have not preached the gospel as much as we should to as wide an audience as possible. There is also a lack of understanding of feminism and many people fight it without even understanding what it is about. Much more needs to be done to enable both men and women to learn about feminism and unlearn some of the things that have blocked their minds to the feminist discourse.
In order to effectively address these challenges, we need to build knowledge on contemporary issues and enhance our analytical skills so as to engage in critical discussions with stakeholders on feminist approaches to these issues. We also need to strengthen our movement by raising and engaging with critical questions that will enable us to grow and continue being role models for others. We also need to grow the movement by continuing to bring on board a diverse range of women, young, old, rural urban, educated and uneducated so as to be a force to reckon with.
In my both my personal and professional life, I live my feminist politics through conversations (both formal and informal) with women in the various districts that we work in, challenging both young and not so young leaders to question the subjugation of women. As a leader myself, I have also endeavoured to nurture some young female leaders by giving them space and opportunity to learn and grow into feminism. At a family level, I have continued to have conversations about what feminism is, the need to respect diversity, and personally embracing the feminist charter and endeavouring to ensure that the individual ethics are reflected in my personal life.
I am inspired by the many daring women out there who brave ruthless conditions, unrelenting governments, uncompromising communities, maddeningly ambitious patriarchs to fight for the rights of women.