Archive | August, 2019

The Uganda Feminist Forum.

28 Aug


My three passions in life are womxn, Africa, and the arts. I was humbled to be invited and represent South Africa in 2019, Uganda Feminist Forum, which was in Jinja, Uganda. 

Background on UFF:
The Uganda Feminist Forum (UFF) was born out of several national and regional processes aimed at strengthening the effectiveness of the feminist movement at the national and regional level. In 2005, womxn leaders and activists came together at a historic gathering in Jinja, Uganda under the auspices of Actionaid Uganda, Uganda women network and Akina Mama Wa Afrika. The meeting sought to map a way forward for the women’s movement in Uganda in the aftermath of a series of setback which culminated in the government ban of the play “The Vagina Monologues”. It was evident that serious intervention was needed to create space spaces for feminists on the continent. Thus the African feminist Forum was established and convened in Accra on November 2006. The Jinja participants joined forces with AFF and became the Uganda feminist Forum.

I documented the AFF, the link can be found here..

The UFF adopted the Charter of Feminist Principles for African feminists, which was developed by the AFF and provides the philosophical, aspirational and principle values that all who are members must uphold.
The charter can be found here:

The African Feminist Charter


This years forum was held 30 July to 1 August under the theme- ‘Silencing Our Fears and Fearing Our Silence”.The delegates included feminists and activists from across Uganda. there was also a Pan African delegation that included me, representing South Africa and Zimbabwe, Rwanda, India, and Kenya were represented.

My journey.
Please note that I have not added any names out of safety and respect for the delegates. 
I left South Africa in the early hours of July 30th, I connected via Nairobi, Kenya. On arrival at Entebbe airport, Myself and another delegate were collected and we embarked on our road trip to Jinja. The road trip took us an approximate three hours as we traveled in a northeast direction, we were blessed with experiencing the magnificent Ugandan landscape.
On arrival at our secret location, we were met with the wonderful staff from Akina Mama Wa Afrika. We checked into our cute chalets, equipped with two large beds, lounge, bathroom, all overlooking the majestic Victoria Lake.
In the dining hall, we began to meet the rest of our feminist tribe.

Day 1.
We began the day with meditation and African yoga. The session was led by one of the delegates, who is a certified yogi and a trauma healing and self-defense expert.
This was the perfect way to begin each day as it centered us for the next 10 to 12 hours. 
The day began with introductions, acknowledging the Feminist charter and discussion sessions as well as solutions.
The room was made up of feminists, lawyers, farmers, entrepreneurs, sex workers, doctors, activists. Powerful testimonies were shared by a few who had attended the first forum, it was noted that a lot of progress had been made from the initial forum, certain ignorant members walked at the presence of women who represented the LGBTQI community.


Through the discussion and panels, we looked at topics such as how do we handle life transitions from death, womanhood, pregnancy, menopause, etc. We focused on the lack of finance and resources that are made available to womxn in Africa, through a session titled- “Silence in the Economy”. We unraveled the shocking truths of womxn being paid half than their male counterparts especially in the private sector, one of the delegates highlighted the fact of womxn missing in critical spaces. An explanation was made of how tax is crucial for womxn to have access to social securities and the impact of Illicit Financial Flows (IFFs) to womxn. In Uganda, they lose to about 2 trillion UGX, approximately​ $541 960 000,00, to IFFs a year. This could fund the country’s​​ health budget.
For centuries, womxn have occupied spaces in the home, such as taking care of the aged, children, family and household, this constitutes as unpaid care work, we explored both the practical and theory behind it.

It was a powerful space where we learned from each other. From my perspective it was two-fold, I learned and understood the challenged from a Pan-African perspective and also learning from the younger feminists in the room.

The session which was led by women who represent Sex Workers of Uganda dealt with the challenges and realities. Through their participation at a South African conference held by Sonke Justice, they were able to benefit and gain additional knowledge. Understanding the need to invest capital in the industry, thus creating the sex workers conference. The positive outcomes led to empowered members on a financial and educational level. One of the women graduating with a Ph.D.
The next session we unpacked the economics of African feminism under power versus politics. The day also allowed for tributes to Sella Nyanzi and other Ugandan feminists who fought before us.

The second part of the day focused on packaging resistance in our territories. We all understand that many communities are aware of our rights but many of us cannot fight for them.
The rights of the Queer feminist were a centre point, which is an issue that resonates across the continent. We all need to create spaces and communities which allows for a safe and free living for all, that gives everyone respect without being questioned about one’s sexuality.

The quote for this session:
‘We ask not to be tolerated but to be respected as we unlearn rudely and patriarchal ideologies that are attached to the LGBTQI community.’

We looked at inter-generational feminism as we all acknowledge that there has been a historical muting of women through patriarchy. 
The quote of the session-

Feminism is a collective responsibly.

Day 2.
We started the day with meditation and Yoga and then broke into sessions of groups, with more panel discussions. Finding resolutions and way strategies that we need to apply in our personal spaces.
I sat on a panel with Maggie Kigozi, an investment Promotion Expert, an Entrepreneur, a farmer, and a feminist. She is Chairperson of the Africa Scout Foundation and Joyce Nangobi Rosemary, the founder of the Slum Women’s Initiative for Development in Jinja. I unpacked the realities and challenges from a South African perspective​ and why it is​ necessary for Pan African​ synergies within the feminist​ spaces​ so that we can learn for other territories​.

The last day culminated in a visit to the Nyonga Women’s Shelter and the Slum Women’s Initiative For Development (SWID).  
The Her-stories can be found here:

The Nyonga Women’s​ shelter:

​​For more information on how you can assist, please contact​ Akina Mama Wa Afrika


The Nyonga Women’s Shelter- Jinja​, Uganda!

17 Aug


Whilst attending the Uganda Feminist Forum, earlier this month, I had the honour of meeting some of the powerful feminine forces from Uganda, one was Rose Kigere. Rose is an activist, feminist and the executive director for Women Rights Initiative (WORI)

This is her-story
Rose graduated with a BA. (Hon) Human resource management (Busoga University.) as well as a BA. (Hon) in Social work and Social development ( Fairland​ University).
She founded the Women rights Initiative together with two other women who and over the last decade have been educating women in Uganda about domestic violence using the Media, community Training and art.

WORI (Women Rights Initiative Uganda)

WORI is a women’s prosperity charity based in Eastern Uganda in the beautiful city of Jinja and created in 2007 to respond to the challenges of​ women’s rights, poverty, awareness on Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights, capacity building in leadership and governance at a grassroots level. 
They are leading four main programs: 
* Leadership Capacity Building
* Sexual Reproductive Health
* Economic Empowerment
* Human Rights

As the awareness sessions on Domestic and gender-based violence increased, many women began reporting cases of abuse and what they could offer then was counseling. Along with her team at Women Rights Initiative, Rose began a journey of creating a safe reliable space where Women would receive a holistic centered service concerning domestic abuse. They used their skills to bake for charity and earned money from selling cakes that enabled them to buy land where we have been able to build the shelter.
Rose was greatly involved in the planning, design and resource mobilization that led to the construction of the biggest shelter in Uganda 

In conversation with her, I asked how she would best describe the state of GBV in Uganda.
” The state of Gender-based violence is alarming especially in the rural settings where most cultures are still extremely rigid and consider women as second-hand citizens. The patriarchal behaviours still loom highly and deprive women and children of the safety, security and full enjoyment of their rights.”

The Nyonga Women’s Shelter Project

The Nyonga Women’s Shelter is the cornerstone project of the human rights program of the Women’s Rights Initiative (WORI). 
Rose and her team decided to start the Nyonga Women’s Shelter project to offer these women a safe space. The shelter is now built and they have received survivors for counseling. They have succeeded in fundraising for a perimeter security wall to keep the residents safe away from the risk of further violence, stalking and other threats. 

The shelter includes six bedrooms for victims, as well as facilities for legal aid, medical examination, and counseling. Day services such as counseling are now being offered to victims. The facility will continue rolling out other services as financial support comes in.

The next step is to have enough money to get all the furniture needed for women and children as well as a solar panel system to provide a sustainable power source! They aim to host women and children by September 2019! 

WORI is currently planning three small businesses (bakery, reusable pads, and a bridal outlet) which we hope will be able to provide all expenses to cover the shelter, and we aim to be self-funded by 2020. 

​WORI is seeking funding for 
For their water pump and solar panels, these would allow the shelter to be self-sufficient, eco-friendly and free from large utility bills
​To have their library
​To create an outdoor space where mothers and children could play together
 To create a small garden to achieve food self-sufficiency
 To organize sports activities to regain self-esteem (Kick-Boxing, Krav Maga, Dance)


Testimonies from survivors:
​Lydia is the mother of three children in rural Busoga. For Lydia, being a mother in the home means to be respected, loved and to give love and respect back. Because her husband has neglected their family, Lydia came to WORI for help. Without WORI’s leadership training and advice, Lydia said she could not see a future for her children.

​”For me, being a woman means to be patient and strong.” 
Catherine lives in rural Busoga, Uganda and is the current mother of two children. Her husband, who is no longer supportive of her and her children, tried to sell their property and attempted to intimidate Catherine and her children out of there home. He neglected his duties as both a husband and a father. Catherine was forced to take care of her children by herself. Throughout the neglect, one of Catherine’s children, a third child, fell sick and died. With the help of WORI, Catherine was given the guidance and advice to start up her own business. She now sells charcoal and groceries to support herself and her children. Catherine is a #vocalwoman and will not be silenced. 

Kigere Rose 
Executive Director 
Women Rights Initiative (WORI)
Tel +256 434 121856


Slum Women’s​ Initiative​ For Development (SWID).

14 Aug


In Augst 2019, whilst attending the Ugandan feminist Forum in Jinja, I had the wonderful opportunity of meeting the force behind SWID. As my passions in life are women, Africa, and the arts, I had to share my experience and journey.

What and who are SWID?
It is a community based nongovernmental organization that was founded by Director Joyce Nangobi and a small group of 30 passionate grassroots women who took it upon themselves to mobilize community members against the unjust, routine evictions that were taking place in the slum settlements of Walukuba Masese Division of Jinja, Uganda.
Their motto- For Grassroots Women, By Grassroots Women

Their Her-story:
Slum Women’s Initiative for Development (SWID) is a grassroots community based non-governmental organization that was established in 2003 in the Walukuba Masese Division of Jinja, Uganda. SWID promotes the development of community structures in slum and rural areas to help poor people obtain land, shelter and basic services in order to improve their overall well-being.

Their mission
” To improve on the quality of lives of people in Jinja Urban slums and Rural communities through empowering them to meet their social, political and economic needs in a sustainable manner”.

Their vision
“An empowered community with a home for every woman”

Peer Exchange 522
Thir victories:
Grassroots Women-Focused Savings & Borrowing for Land & Housing

Like many nations around the world, Uganda suffers from inequitable land, housing, and property policies and practices that subjugate women. While women bear 80% of the food production labor, have higher rates of poverty, are most susceptible to violence and are at greater risk of contracting HIV. Recognizing both trends, they have chosen to focus their efforts on women’s security of tenure through individual and joint land title and homeownership, which cannot happen without savings and credit schemes offered at reasonable interest rates of 2%. 
Nevertheless, there has been a gradual change realized at the grassroots level resulting from the efforts of SWID in empowering women with knowledge on their land rights and advocacy skills through organizing local to local Dialogue training, meetings, and paralegal training. A combination of these has provided a very firm foundation for grassroots to advocate for what they feel is their constitutional right from the responsible authorities. A platform has been provided through which grassroots women in particular dialogue with their local authorities, community leaders and others about developmental issues that can bring about a positive change in their communities and livelihood. This is a fundamental advocacy tool that undermines all practices of abuse of women’s right because it is a strong, collective and informed voice of grassroots women.
The members have initiated a savings and credit scheme through which they save and borrow through a revolving loan that has seen many women acquire land and housing, start-up business, pay school fees for their children and improve on their living condition with limited or no support from their husbands. Through their campaign,
“The Road to Acquisition of Land, Titles, and Housing by Grassroots Women”,
SWID has seen vast improvement through:

* 9.1% of its members improve on their housing
* 38 grassroots women have contributed funds towards the acquisition of land titles, increased bargaining power that has increased the willingness of Jinja Municipal Authorities, Jinja District Land Board and Area Land Committee to support grassroots women’s secure land and Titles in their individual names.
* There has been an improvement of women’s negotiating capacities, participation in community development forums and interaction with their local authorities. To achieve this, SWID is strengthening its partnership base with government and civil society organization.

Another success story:
Before SWID’s intervention, Walukuba/Masese Division had several problems affecting women including land grabbing as a result of traditional beliefs that deny women the right to inherit land and property after losing their spouses or parents, discrimination and stigma among HIV positive women, a wide gap between leaders and community members, and a lack of knowledge of legal rights. After SWID’s intervention through the revolving loan scheme, members were able to secure a loan from SWID that they use to construct a house. Before, many were living in a poor shelter roofed with asbestos that has been classified as a known human carcinogen (a substance that causes cancer). The original houses were meant for single occupancy and therefore were not suited for large families. The new houses are constructed with guests rooms that could be rented out as a sustainable method for the members to repay their loans.


Health and home-based care
The home-based caregivers of SWID visit nearly 100 patients twice per month. The majority of women in the group are widows, single mothers, sole income earners and those living positively. They have mobilized simply because the need to assist the most vulnerable populations has not been met by the local government. SWID allocated part of its already overstretched programming budget to provide shoulder bags to the caregivers. In these the women carry a few first aid supplies-latex gloves, washing soap, alcohol, and brushes-and they wear an apron which immediately identifies them as home-based caregivers. The Home-Based caregivers provide care and support to the terminally ill people such as PLWHA, diabetic people, people suffering from cancer, and the elderly, at their homes through counseling, provision of basic necessities to the vulnerable people for example food, provision of diagnostic and nursing care, health education about HIV/AIDS, physical care including provision of referrals to health units.
In addition to home-based care, most caregivers also participate in the drama group that aims to educate and sensitize communities about HIV/AIDS since drama and music can reach a larger number of people across diverse age groups. Because the social stigma attached to HIV is still high, the drama group (composed of those who tested both HIV positive and negative) sensitizes communities in Jinja district on issues involving HIV transmission and prevention, positive living, sanitation, nutrition, land and property rights, inheritance laws.
Peer Exchange 240

Their partners:
Nationally, SWID has partnered with Uganda Land Alliance and at a community level, SWID is working with Jinja District Land Bard, Jinja Municipal Council, the physical planner, Jinja District, and Area Land Committees.


Contact them. 602
Jinja Uganda
Tabingwa road , walukuba jinja plot 45.