Tag Archives: Uganda Feminist Forum

The Alliance of Women Advocating for Change (AWAC)

20 Jan

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My three passions in life are Women, Africa, and the arts. In 2019, I attended the Ugandan Feminist forum where I had the opportunity to meet and work with some of Uganda’s powerful warriors who are advocating for change. One lady was Ms Kyomya Macklean, the executive director for the Alliance of Women Advocating for Change (AWAC). She is also a social Worker & Champion of the sex worker Movement in Uganda

The Alliance of Women Advocating for Change (AWAC) is a network of grassroots female sex worker led-organizations in Uganda. The NGO was established in 2015 by the champions of the female sex worker movement to promote meaningful involvement and collective organizing of rural & peri-urban Female Sex Workers (FSWs), especially those operating in hard to reach areas such as slum areas, landing sites, transit routes. It was established to enable rural & peri-urban based grassroots FSWs to live free from human rights abuse to live healthy and productive lives in Uganda.

AWAC Core Values:
* Mutual Respect and Integrity.
* Empowerment and Meaningfully involvement
* Transparency and Accountability
* Evidence-based programming and human rights-based approach
* Innovation and Excellence

AWAC’s Objectives
* To promote and raise awareness on the welfare needs of sex workers and also advocate for policies that further the health and values of sex workers; These rights include the right to health and a safe working environment free from abuse, violence, and discrimination in Uganda.
* Strengthening a vibrant national and sustainable sex workers’ movement in Uganda.
* Mobilizing and organizing sex workers for policy advocacy and facilitative opportunities for the voices of sex workers​ to be heard in relevant forums both at a national and international level.
* Developing and sustaining linkages between service providers, sex worker organizations and relevant stakeholders to provide practical information and opportunities for quality services and information sharing among sex worker organizations and projects which provide services to sex workers.
* To economically empower grassroots rural and peri-urban FSWs to diversify their income and improve their social-economic well-being in Uganda.
* To provide social protection, psychosocial support, and mental health needs to children of FSWs engaged in sex work in Uganda.
* To undertake research and document human rights abuses experienced by grassroots FSWs engaged in sex work for evidence-based programming, advocacy and policy change in Uganda.

AWAC is governed by a Female only board of five members. They have wide experience in corporate governance. They have various professional backgrounds ranging from human rights, medicine, financial management, gender and HIV programming, and a sex worker community representative with a wealth of lived experiences in grassroots advocacy. The organisation​ is headed by the Executive Director and directly supported by five marshalled​ and indigenous staff including Advocacy and communication Manager, Research and knowledge management Manager, Programs Manager, Monitoring, Evaluation & Learning (MEL) and Business Development Manager and the Finance and Administrative Manager. The above staff have impeccable experience in leadership, resource mobilization, strategic planning, policy and advocacy, collaboration, networking, and partnerships building, economic empowerment, mental health management (counseling and psychotherapy), OVC case management/ child protection), Gender-Based Violence prevention and management, HIV and sexual reproductive health and rights programming, documentation, research, and learning.

The core business of AWAC is to improve the health and socio-economic well-being of vulnerable women especially female sex workers including those facing multiple forms of vulnerabilities such as those living with disabilities. Additionally, WAC targets children of female sex workers living in destitute conditions and adolescent young girls engaged in sex work. They work to mobilize and multi-skill them through mentorship/coaching, functional adult literacy, safe space dialogues to increase their self-esteem and improve health-seeking behavior, raise financial literacy and improve livelihood and overall socio-economic well-being through a variety of income-generating activities such as hair salons, retail shops, shoemaking, catering, craft making, tailoring, theatre for development among others. They also advocate​ for the protection of rights and equitable access to services for vulnerable women. They work with various organizations that serve as referral points for services that it does not directly offer. These include health units, social welfare departments of government, law enforcement officers, non-governmental organizations and other donor-funded projects.

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Contact details:

Located: Mulago; Kampala Uganda
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/awacuganda
Twitter: http://twitter.com/awacuganda
Skype: kyomya.macklean
Phone: +256414664730, +256701603754
Email: awacuganda@gmail.com, kmacklean@gmail.com

The Uganda Feminist Forum.

28 Aug

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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..https://rosiemoteneblog.wordpress.com/?s=African+feminist+forum&submit=Search.

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

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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.

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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:
https://rosiemoteneblog.wordpress.com/2019/08/14/slum-womens%E2%80%8B-initiative%E2%80%8B-for-development-swid/

The Nyonga Women’s​ shelter:
https://rosiemoteneblog.wordpress.com/2019/08/17/the-nyonga-womens-shelter-jinja%E2%80%8B-uganda/

​​For more information on how you can assist, please contact​ Akina Mama Wa Afrika https://www.akinamamawaafrika.org

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