“Nothing replaces being in the same room, face-to-face, breathing the same air, reading and feeling each other’s micro-expressions”. This is why Akina Mama wa Afrika (AMwA), ignited with excitement, hosted a partners’ rendezvous this year in Uganda, setting the stage for an unforgettable grounding with its partners.
As the sun set over the tranquil shores of Lake Victoria, the atmosphere in Entebbe, Uganda, became electric. AMwA partners under the Voices for Just Climate Action (VCA) programme from Kenya, Zambia, and Tunisia all gathered under the banner of Voices for Just Climate Action Programme (VCA), to discuss feminist climate justice, a topic at the heart of our livelihoods. This meeting was an opportunity to deeply reflect on our progress at the institutional and collective level, and to cast a vision and plan for the year. Significantly, this gathering provided a sacred space for introspection, allowing us to hold ourselves accountable to both our own principles and the communities we represent. It served as a platform to reflect on how we have harnessed our mandate to construct a future that is equitable, sustainable, and beneficial for all.
The room was filled with excitement and anticipation, as the partners settled into their seats and began to exchange ideas and experiences. Through informal, formal, open and constructive dialogues, the partners were able to collectively identify opportunities for collaboration both at country level, as well as transnationally. The discussion was animated and passionate, with everyone sharing their thoughts on the challenges facing women and girls in the face of climate change. As the night wore on, the conversation turned to the progress made by the partners under the VCA programme. There were tales of inspiring successes and heart-wrenching setbacks, as partners shared their experiences of working to enable women within their communities to actively combat the climate crisis.
Amidst the vibrant atmosphere, the discussions at the gathering went beyond mere celebration of accomplishments and obstacles faced by the programme. Financial management, reporting, and the captivating art of feminist storytelling took center stage, forming vital pillars of any triumphant endeavor. The dialogue was filled with enthusiasm and captivation, as each partner contributed their unique ideas and perspectives. In their respective countries, the partners forged three compelling country advocacy plans that have played a pivotal role in shaping their collective endeavors for 2023 in Kenya, Tunisia, and Zambia. Moreover, this extraordinary experience didn’t just influence the partners’ strategic approaches; it sparked inspiration among some to recreate their meeting spaces.
During the meeting, AMwA embarked on a profound exploration of intersectional feminist climate justice, with the purpose of collectively reaffirming our grounding alongside our esteemed partners. To ensure an intersectional frame within our work, a dedicated session led by Sarah Mukasa, a trusted ally of AMwA and an expert in the field, was held. This session served as a transformative opportunity for partners to deepen their understanding of the vital role of feminist intersectional approaches in the pursuit of climate justice. It highlighted the significance of adopting inclusive approaches that encompass and tackle the diverse experiences of women within our systems and structures.
The discussion around intersectionality was both challenging and rewarding, with partners sharing their own experiences and perspectives. As the session reached its culmination, a powerful unity of thought emerged, embracing the essence of intersectional feminism and recognizing its paramount significance in the battle for climate justice. The collective realization reverberated through the room, igniting a shared commitment to foster collaboration and solidarity. It became resoundingly clear that only by working together could we ensure that our endeavors resonate with genuine inclusivity and empowerment for every minoritized group.
Having come together from different corners of the African continent, united by a common goal: to fight for a world where climate justice and gender equality go hand in hand, our partners embraced a sense of pride in their distinct interpretations of feminist climate justice. As the meeting drew to a close, there was a sense of accomplishment and excitement in the air. The partners had come together to discuss one of the most pressing issues of our time, and they had done so with energy, passion, and determination. And perhaps, just perhaps, the world would be a little bit receptive to their efforts.
Precious Tricia Abwooli