Home COVID-19 “When I am only for myself, what am I?”_ Celebrating 2021 International Women’s Day with a Feminist Lens.

“When I am only for myself, what am I?”_ Celebrating 2021 International Women’s Day with a Feminist Lens.

by Maurine Tukahirwa

19th March, 2021

The month of March was globally dedicated to celebrating, honoring and reflecting on Women’s efforts in fighting for Equality, Social and Economic Justice. This Global cal to Action derived from the social injustices that were inflicted on black Women in U.S.A centred on enslavement in the 1900s and in 1977; 8th March became a date officially dedicated to celebrating diversity amongst Women all over the Globe. Recognizing the role of Women in their different capacities.

Today, we continue to mark achievements of Women championing social and economic justice, Good Health, Education Initiatives, Environment and Clean Energy, Climate Action, Peace and Justice, Political leadership and Feminist ideologies that entirely aim at shattering patriarchal systems in the different fields. We are opportune to have global structures that have created space for participation, observation and monitoring and support of Women’s Day Celebrations like the Commission on the status of Women a forum that has been put in place to ensure that Women’s issues are tabled, and recognised to inform well-tailored programs with the needs of Women globally.

The challenge has however remained with the misconceptions surrounding Feminism which has continuously caused division amongst the Women led and Feminism driven organizations. “Feminism is unreligious, it calls for family breakages, disrespect from Women. Yet it’s the only tool that can hold the bull by its horns.” They narrate.  It’s like that distant cousin who used to shield you from all those bullies in school at a time when you least expected it. Silence amongst Adolescent Girls and Young Women, survivors of Sexual and Gender Based Violence continues to widen each and every day. We are always told that silence doesn’t mean absence of conflict or Peace but rather it’s a symbol to depict injustice in society. “Get up, speak out in case of any form of violence!” Adolescent Girls and Young women are always told however, this has proven to become complex, with the existing legal and policy frameworks that are put in place to silence such impunities in communities and instead protect the perpetrators.

Day one of preparation for the International Women’s Day Celebrations

“We name and define ourselves publicly as Feminists because we celebrate that the work of fighting for Women’s rights is deeply political and the process of naming it is political too.” Sighted Imalingat Goret, the Secretary General of the Young Feminists Movement here in Uganda.  By naming ourselves feminists, we politicize the struggle for women’s rights, we question the legitimacy of the structures that keep women subjected and we develop tools for transformational analysises and Action. She added.

In reference to the significant declarations attained centered on Equal Rights, social and economic justice for Young Women leaders, i.e. the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the 1995 Beijing Platform for Action, the 2001 Abuja Declaration, the 2018 Gender Barometer, it’s been evident enough that this is a joint struggle, from all Stakeholders who recognize Women’s Rights as Human Rights. It also lays background on the reason why we must continuously dedicate the #WomensMonth and 8th March International Women’s Day to celebrate the achievements and fruits born out of these Political commitments.

The Young Feminist Movement got a chance to take on this reflection as we celebrated Women’s Day at Global Platform Uganda facility in Apac District, one of the main Gender Based Violence Shelters supported by Action AID. 30 Young Women leaders from Community, Local Councils, Districts and Higher institutions of Learning levels took off 3 days to indulge in a procession of a Conference that brought together School representatives, District representatives and Gender focal persons in Lango Sub-region to unpack this Year’s International Women’s Day various themes but also instill the spirit of togetherness, sisterhood and Solidarity in the Networks under Action AID. It was importantly noted that the vibrancy of these Networks depended on the presence and meaningful engagement of Young People. The conversations were also taken to social and mainstream media where the hashtag #UgChooseToChallenge helped keep a trail on the responses and participation of Young Women all over the Country.

Integration of SRHR and HIV interventions in addressing grievances amongst Adolescent Girls and Young Women continued to be number one key priority. Integrated SRHR was looked at as an empowerment tool that shifted power back to the survivors of Sexual Violence and harassment. It also proved to strike interaction amongst the Young Feminist leaders that strengthened the sisterhood bond. It was noted that 60% of the activities carried out at the shelter were Leadership and Feminist Transformation Training yet it was vital for us to note that the impact wasn’t in the trainings but rather the Community Actions yielded from successful knowledge transfers.

How practical we could get when it comes to interrogating Patriarchy… becomes a million bucks question. 

Creative Artivism:

Kenneth Mulinde: Creative Artivism Inspirator at Global Platform Uganda

The strength Creative Artivism depicted during the conference couldn’t go unrecognised. The power to visualise the pain, and suffering Young Women especially those in rural communities still remains and depends on how far our imagination stretches. Imagination helps support the survivors to participate in creation and depictions of impunities black women faced then and are still facing in our communities. “Through Creative Artivism we’ve managed to identify/craft new identities for African women, identities as full citizens, ownership and control over resources and our own bodies and utilising positive aspects of our cultures in liberating and nurturing ways.” He explains. It has also supported expression, one of the most challenging attribute in survivors of Sexual Violence as it almost requires re-living such trauma. Engaging survivors into recreation and visualisation has been proven therapeutic, satisfying and fulfilling emotionally and psychologically. Creative Artivism has also led to the revival of community led Music Dance and Drama, short skits to address the status Education, Health, Community leadership, re-defining Gender roles and the roots of Gender stereotypes with guidance from learning Inspirators.

Social Movement Building. We continue to recognize the importance of Social Movements as they support Community Mobilization and Organizing through building & strengthening relationships. It also helped us as a Movement create a holistic public narrative through aligning the “Story of Us” with the “Story of Now” that invites others to take Action.

The Feminism approach during International Women’s Day Celebrations here in Uganda helped identify the areas in the fight for Women’s Social and Economic Justice we can influence meaningful Action through the 6 Principles of Activism guided by Global Platform Uganda. They include:

  • Dreaming Big
  • Learning by doing.
  • Political Empowerment
  • Public Action Learning
  • Feminist Lens  
  • Participatory Method

The Young Feminists Movement has managed to operationalize her Developed structure which supports transferring and building power for communities of Adolescent Girls and Young Women leaders. With much focus infested in community voices, an attribute to mindset change, this has enabled the development of a holistic public narrative that voices Income and Gender inequalities and promotes Equity to transform the lives of Young Girls and Women Leaders in their respective communities. The power to address more than one issue in a community still remains in the ability to maintain social movements especially during a COVID-19 World. This also calls for partnerships amongst the different Networks of Young People in our Country and continent at large.

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