The Purple Bulb strengthening the individual and collective leadership of African women, forming strategic partnerships, to tackle patriarchy and attain gender equality and women’s empowerment for a just and secure Africa

Dear Reader,

Words fail us! It is almost impossible to introduce a newsletter about our first quarter of the year during such unprecedented times when #Covid19 is holding the world at ransom. We hope that by sharing our highlights, your hearts will be warmed and minds strengthened to keep smashing the patriarchy, even from your living room. Despite these changes, progress on gender equality cannot wait. We recognize that in times of crisis such as these, women and other marginalized groups are disproportionately impacted.

As Akina Mama wa Afrika turns 35 this year, we are not resting on our laurels until the African woman is fully liberated. Coming up, learn how we are making sure that African women participate at all levels of decision making, setting the agenda and strengthening women’s rights frameworks to make sure that they work for ALL women.

When governments imposed lockdowns to curb the coronavirus pandemic, what they may not taken into consideration is the fact that home is not safe for all women. More than ever, victims and survivors of sexual violence are at a higher risk of facing abuse. During this quarter, we embarked on initiatives geared towards ending violence against women and girls, including at the GIMAC. Our clarion call is for the ratification, domestication and implementation of the ILO Convention 190 on Violence and Harassment in the World of Work, to make workplaces safer for women.

As this global situation develops, we have postponed a number of upcoming events. However, we invite you to dig deep into our knowledge products – developed with a Feminist lens – to inform your advocacy initiatives. In the meantime, stay safe, wash your hands, and keep feministing!

Yours from afar,

Strengthening Young Women’s Leadership Capacities to Influence Global Women’s Rights Frameworks

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action. However, across the world, a number of legislation and policies that are passed in traditional decision making spaces appear progressive but actually stall progress in the realization of women’s rights as the agenda is usually watered down in favour of diplomacy. Together with the African Women's Development Fund (AWDF), AMwA conducted a five-day residential Sub-Regional African Women’s Leadership Institute for 24 women leaders from West Africa to equip them with practical skills to effectively engage and influence global women’s rights frameworks, taking into consideration Feminist concerns. Seeds of an alternative framework of leadership which is not based on power and its retention were sown. Read more!

Re-imagining Leadership in the 21st Century at the Women in Leadership Symposium

From the Millennium to the Sustainable Development Goals, the need to safeguard the rights and well-being of women and girls has become central to all aspects of development politics. Yet with women's participation in leadership and decision-making spaces still far from ideal, more needs to be done to ensure that the concerns of women and girls are articulated at all levels of decision making. We are convened a Women in Leadership Symposium to interrogate the state of women’s leadership in Uganda and re-imagine transformational leadership development models that work for women in the 21st century to enable women leaders effectively influence decision making space. Read more

Tuwezeshe Young Women’s Leadership Conversations: Keeping the Sistahood Alive

The TuWezeshe Akina Dada- Africa/UK Young Women’s Leadership and Empowerment Movement Project targeting young African women between the ages of 18-35 who are working on sexual and gender based violence advocacy was established in 2016 to improve young women’s visibility, profile and leadership through developing their leadership capacity to influence and shape decisions about their rights, amplify their voices and strengthen their collective action against sexual violence. Since then, seven leadership trainings were held to deepen the knowledge, skills and attitudes on GBV of over 50 young women in Africa and the UK. Sisters in the Tuwezeshe fellowship came together to celebrate the gains made in young women’s leadership and chart paths for increased engagement on issues affecting women and girls. Read more

Celebrating, Connecting and Catalyzing Mentorship Relationships

Being mentored by Feminists has nourished the leadership journeys of many women leaders in the Women’s movement – contributing to their personal and professional well-being in the fight against patriarchal oppression. We convened our mentors and mentees of the African Women’s Leadership Institute (AWLI) in a conversation where they assessed the state of their mentorship relationships and charted ways on how to make their experiences more enriching. Read more.

Unearthing Women’s Foils and Triumphs in the Workplace in Uganda

Women have been working people since time immemorial whether their work was limited to domestic duties and occupations such as teaching, nursing and housekeeping or they pursued a startling range of careers and vocations. For most, their stories remain untold even when they keep at difficult jobs exposed to unfavourable working conditions such as limited access to leadership and decision making, inadequate social protection, sexual harassment and low wages. On International Women’s Day, AMwA in collaboration with like-minded partners brought some of the experiences of women at the workplace to light in an intentionally democratic exhibition, featuring both the famous and the forgotten. It resulted in a commitment from the UN Representative in Uganda, Ms. Rosa Malango, to engage with the government of Uganda in efforts to have the ILO Convention 190 ratified. Read more

Art Meets Activism at the Premiere of Prickly Roses, a Short Film about the Experiences of Women on Flower Farms in Uganda

During the season of love and roses, AMwA took over the cinema with a public screening of Prickly Roses, a film which dramatises the experiences of women working on flower farms. It follows their journey of struggle as they navigate issues of inadequate social protection, meagre wages and cases of sexual harassment at the workplace, a glimpse into the numerous oppressions that they face, compounded by the unfair experiences faced back home as a result of gendered roles and demands of their families, communities and societies. In spite their significant contribution to the economy and the obstacles they face, the stories and experiences of the women holding up this industry remain largely unknown. The star studded feature was released in time for Valentine’s Day to ignite public discourse about the labour conditions of women working on flower farms and other low cadre jobs such as domestic work, market vending and other sectors. Read more

Click here to watch the full #PricklyRoses film

Interrogating Silence on Sexual Violence in the Aftermath of War at the 35th GIMAC

The talk of violence and relief during situations of conflict hushes once the headlines fade. Once the guns stop blazing, efforts towards fully rehabilitating women who were sexually abused are minimal. Because peace processes are left in the hands of military men and warlords whose expertise is war, the post-conflict needs of women and girls are seldom taken into account. At GIMAC where women and girls’ agency to silence the guns in African countries was discussed, AMwA held a panel conversation to interrogate stakeholders’ response and demand accountability on the combating of sexual violence in every element of peace building. Read more

Click here to watch our documentary (English) on Sexual Violence in War

Setting Survivors of Sexual Violence in Uganda on a Path of Healing

The first 48 hours of 2020 were unforgettable for Ugandan women as several young women found the courage to share their stories and experiences of rape and other forms of sexual violence on online platforms. In the aftermath, AMwA convened a healing space for survivors to share their stories in a safe space and receive psychological support to set them on a path of healing. Read more

Breaking the Culture of Silence around Sexual Harassment at dfcu Bank Uganda

Sexual harassment of women is defined as such unwelcome sexually determined behavior as physical contact and advances, sexually colored remarks, showing pornography and sexual demands, whether by words or actions. Such conduct can be humiliating and may constitute a health and safety problem; it is discriminatory when the woman has reasonable ground to believe that her objection would disadvantage her in connection with her employment, including recruitment or promotion, or when it creates a hostile working environment. In 2019, AMwA launched a campaign to end sexual harassment in the workplace in response to the scourge of sexual harassment within workplaces in Uganda that goes unchecked. In 2020, the struggle continues. We held a conversation on sexual harassment with employees of dfcu Bank Uganda as part of our efforts to ensure that work places are safe for women. Read more

The HTS Union stall at our #WomenATWork exhibition

Making Tax a Women's Issue

The government of Uganda while implementing its tax policy has been indifferent to women rights and the attainment of gender equality. Not only is the tax system in Uganda unfair to women, it has reinforced and perpetuated gender inequality. Women pay severely as a result of regressive taxes like VAT which extract more money from low income earners who are often women. AMwA joined the Global Alliance on Tax Justice (GATJ) and like-minded partners to commemorate the Days of Action for Women’s rights by convening a Youth Policy Village (YPV) to enhance youth active participation in the formulation and implementation of tax policy and other domestic resource mobilisation efforts that are gender sensitive and responsive to women’s rights. Read more

Taking Stock of African Feminist Organising and Setting our Agenda at the Feminist Thought Leadership Retreat

The influence of Feminism on activism today cannot go ignored. Women’s activism mulled with Feminist activism has continued to shape the world in prioritizing Feminist concerns to achieve social justice for half of the world’s population. In our fulltime job as Feminists, we deal with the ugliness of patriarchy and other systems of oppression on a daily basis, working to improve the lives of African women and girls. AMwA hosted the inaugural Feminist Thought Leadership Retreat, a gathering of some of the Feminists who get the sh*t done, where they explored the landscape of our activism as Feminists and envisioned the Feminist futures they want. Read more

Cultivating a Culture of Discourse; Inclusivity and Equality as a Generational Mandate

It has been said that young people are the future. However, a number of initiatives that have been put in place to prepare young people for this future exclude young women. This is fueled by patriarchal perceptions and sexism that hinder them from effectively participating in leadership and decision making spaces. Mindful of this, we introduced quarterly learning hub sessions for her alumnae to lead themselves in learning more about issues of concern to women and girls, discovering new advocacy tactics, and strengthening their skills to become change leaders. This time around, the learning hub took the form of a Public Speaking and Debate Tournament. Read more

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