August 13, 2019

Who Needs Feminism? Everybody

Feminists in Uganda get to go through their day in addition to fighting the various injustices that women face, trying to create world balance, responding to queries about feminism, if they really are man-haters and how they go to bed at night perfectly fine with pushing an evil agenda from the West. Most people have their first interaction with feminism outside of the women’s rights movement and in that rush of judgment, reject the movement that wants to end sexism, sexist exploitation, oppression and treating women as second-class beings. In asking these ridiculous questions, what many choose to ignore is the real problem at hand, the discrimination of women because of their sex, a concept we have all been socialized to conform to.

Since a number of young people are having discussions on feminism, some of which are misleading, AMwA together with Youth Line Forum Uganda with support from Comic Relief hosted a fireplace conversation which sought to unpack feminism and consequently deepen young people’s understanding of the feminist movement. The conversation aimed to position Ugandan youth, as a social movement, aware and actively living by and applying feminist principles. This is where we invite you too, to take a closer look at feminism and a personal experience of what the feminist movement is all about.

If to be fully human is to maximize your potential, how and at what point will women know their potential and maximize it when they are limited to only one space – the kitchen? How can women explore their abilities to the full when they are not allowed time to reflect and examine their lives? How can you know that you are a very good driver when you have never driven? And having driven, how can you know you love driving, and that driving is what helps you stay in touch with your spirit when you do not have the freedom to explore other possibilities of your potential so you can actually realize what craft facilitates maximizing your potential? It is questions like these that propelled feminists to demand that all women have access to basic human rights including the right to education.

Coming to everyday life, different scenarios demonstrate inequality and power imbalances between women and men starting with the differential treatment of females and males in African culture to street harassment in the form of name calling with women at the receiving end. Think about the injustice of school going boys continuing with their education while in many cases, the impregnated girls are discontinued, all wrongs which have been normalized. Feminism seeks to change this narrative, for the good of all of society.

One day, I went out with my girlfriends and we sat with a group of boys and I ordered drinks. When the waitress brought the bill she gave it to one of the guys present. I felt so angry by the fact that I had made the order but the waitress assumed it is only men who pay the bill. – Agnes Kembabazi

We cannot talk about African feminism without mentioning the Charter of Feminist Principles for African Feminists. The charter is a guiding tool for African feminists which defines and affirm our commitment to feminist principles, guiding our analysis, and practice. The Charter sets out the collective values that we hold as key to our work and to our lives as African feminists. It charts the change we wish to see in our communities, and also how this change is to be achieved. In addition, it spells out our individual and collective responsibilities to the movement and to one another within the movement. Essentially, the Charter ascertains that Feminism is without ifs, buts, or howevers.

All along, I did not know that I was a feminist. Now that I have known what it means, let me see any man whistle or trying to touch my bum, they will see the feminist in me. – Prisca Irene Kemigabo

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