The Purple Bulb Strengthening African women's individual and collective leadership capacities and forming strategic partnerships to tackle patriarchy and attain gender equality

Dear Reader,

When I witness the resilience of women all over the world, rising above the most difficult situations, I am reminded that I can never give up - Zawadi Ny’ongo

We stand at a crucial moment for women’s rights – a time when women across the world are calling for long-lasting change, from the streets to social media, exposing the innumerable inequalities that have nurtured oppression and discrimination against women and girls. From issues of women’s political participation to femicide, sexual harassment and equal pay, we celebrate the unrelenting women across Africa who in the form of marches and campaigns spoke out against these injustices.

On the other hand, it is the 21st century and African women continue to lack adequate access to key decision making structures which impact so fundamentally on their lives. Women’s representation in national parliaments in Africa stands, on average, at less than one quarter, and it is even lower in boardrooms. The gender pay gap shrinks at a snail pace while unpaid work done by many women remains unrecognized deterring their economic progress. The #MeToo movement exposed that workplaces have been a thriving ground for sexual harassment exacerbating the previously high rates of violence suffered by women and girls in private and other public spaces. Without concerted action, these historic power imbalances that underpin discrimination and exploitation will remain an impediment to African women’s liberation.

During this period, we continued to fan the flames of feminism keeping pace with our vision of a world in which African women are politically, economically and socially autonomous. This is how:

Blossoming Women’s Leadership for Decent Work in the Horticultural Sector in Uganda

The first thing that comes to mind when most people think about flowers is love, beauty, birthdays, weddings or similar celebrations. Nothing about the women who suffer insurmountable injustices to bring these flowers to our tables. Unquestionably, flowers make beautiful additions to our living spaces but what does it mean when the woman who picked these flowers does not receive her money’s worth for the job done? At the end of the literal day, the USD20 for a bouquet of flowers trickles down to her as USD24 at the end of the literal month yet she continues toiling away, clipping thorny rose bushes and remaining extremely vulnerable to abuse. We conducted a five-day training to support women's leadership on flower farms in order to overcome these challenges. Read all about the training.

Unpacking Gender – Let’s talk about space, body policing, and sexual violence

In ‘Keep Your Eyes off My Thighs’: A Feminist Analysis of Uganda’s ‘Miniskirt Law’, feminist scholar, Sylvia Tamale unearths the irony of Uganda’s anti-pornography bill, a weapon for policing women in miniskirts with young men acting as vigilantes while daily, they undress women on the streets with impunity. She highlights that the very laws that should protect women encourage these harmful practices. Akina Mama wa Afrika in her knowledge hubs, quarterly learning sessions where her alumnae come together to deepen their politics on issues that concern them held a conversation on gender and body policing with an aim of demystifying the relationship between gender, body policing, and sexual violence in order to question the violence inscribed in gender and how to address such violence. Read on!

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. 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. Here's a sneak peek into African Feminism!

Looking back at the African Women's Leadership Institute

The AWLI: Memories of an Invincible Sisterhood Created

Not only is she an advocate and policy advisor on trade, governance, and development issues in Africa, she is also passionate about changing Africa’s narrative and empowering young women to lead. Allen Sophia Asiimwe runs a regional consultancy firm- AVID Development Ltd (www.aviddevelopment.org); and is the co-founder of a global mentoring programme – Girls for Girls (www.projectg4g.org) which seeks to empower girls to lead and change their communities. She is also an alumna of the African Women’s Leadership Institute (AWLI). We had a conversation with her where she told us about her growth as a Feminist and how she is inspiring girls and women across Africa. This is her leadership journey. Meet Allen!

Accountability in the #MeToo Movement; Fighting Sexual Violence at the Workplace in Uganda

In partnership with Chapter Four Uganda and FES Uganda, Akina Mama wa Afrika hosted a conversation on sexual harassment in the workplace with a specific focus on women workers in the informal economy in Uganda at the third annual Human Rights Convention. The conversation themed “Accountability in the #MeToo Movement; Fighting Sexual Violence in the Workplace” sought to create a safe space to interrogate the state of sexual violence in flower farms in Uganda and therefore generate practical recommendations to influence policy and practice on sexual violence for women in the informal sector in Uganda. Read here!

The Great, The Not So Great, And the Take Aways a.k.a The Story of EDD 2019

Organised by the European Commission, the European Development Days (EDD) bring the development community together each year to share ideas and experiences in ways that inspire new partnerships and innovative solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. This year, the EDD focused on Addressing inequalities: Building a world which leaves no one behind. Our Tuwezeshe fellow Fionah Komusana participated speaking to sexual harassment at institutions of higher learning in Uganda. Here is her experience

Celebrating Diversities: Strengthening Inclusivity in GBV programming in Emergencies

The International Rescue Committee (IRC) Building Local Thinking Global (BLTG) Deep Dive initiative underscores creating inclusive environments for ALL women and girls within GBV emergency response programming so as to improve and increase accessibility, inclusion, safety and security in GBV prevention activities or response services. Here are lessons from one such Deep Dive Workshop Read on.

Clipping Thorny Rose Bushes: Stories of Women Working on Flower Farms in Uganda

In 2014, flowers contributed 38.7 million US dollars to Uganda’s GDP. Although women contribute 60% to 75% of the labor force in the horticulture industry, their labour is mainly concentrated in the lower stages of the value chain. Women work as labourers – digging, weeding, harvesting, sorting, packing and labeling flowers. Despite women being favoured over men in picking and sorting of flowers because of their soft touch, their value does not translate into commensurate pay or protections and benefits, nor does it put them on a path to leadership. The documentation of women’s lived experiences is crucial to identifying institutionalized injustices and collectively working to dismantle them. Akina Mama wa Afrika shares the oral herstories of three women working on flower farms, documenting their everyday lives, achievements, dreams and aspirations. Read here

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Created with an image by Mana Amir - Definition of Feminism by Huffington Post

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