Akina Mama wa Afrika (AMwA)

Feminist Leadership Development

Following Honourable Anna Adeke Ebaju's motion for a resolution of the Parliament of Uganda to inquire into allegations of sexual violence in institutions of learning, a committee was constituted to do just that. Akina Mama wa Afrika was invited to make submissions to the Select Committee On Inquiry into Allegations of Sexual Violence in Institutions of Learning in Uganda and share the lived experiences of young women as found in our baseline study on sexual violence at institutions of higher learning in Uganda.

Our young women leaders under the Tuwezeshe Akina Dada project met with the Committee using the opportunity to push for the passing of the Sexual offences Bill and for the creation of safe spaces within institutions of learning. The young women recommended that gender responsive institutional level sexual harassment policies and regulations are developed and implemented and that data collection systems on sexual violence are strengthened to establish prevalence of Sexual and Gender Based Violence and effectively curb the vice.

One of the key outcome's of the meeting is that the young women leaders were invited to the Legal and Parliamentary Affairs Committee of Parliament to make a submission on the Sexual Offences Bill. It is however regrettable that when issues affecting our sisters in the LBQ community were raised, one of the members moved for the submission to be expunged from the record. Unless the rights of all women in Uganda and Africa are respected, we shall not scale down Sexual and Gender Based Violence.

Nonetheless, here's to young African women influencing policies and governance!

Ms Tendo Namata sharing the experiences of young women at institutions of higher learning

Read the Full Submission here: Submission to Committee On Inquiry into Allegations of Sexual Violence in Institutions of Learning in Uganda

Anna Adeke Ebaju is a Ugandan lawyer and politician. She is the elected Member of Parliament representing the National Female Youth Constituency in the 10th parliament and an alumna of the African Women's Leadership Institute (AWLI).

It is impossible to speak about Akina Mama wa Afrika (AMwA), the African Feminist Forum, the Uganda Women’s Movement and the Uganda Feminist Forum without mentioning Stella Mukasa. A feminist, lawyer and activist with over 20 years of experience spanning government, international development, and academia, Stella undoubtedly espoused feminist principles in the different spaces she participated in and to say that she lived a rich and fulfilling life is an understatement.The African and Uganda Women’s movements are devastated by the heartbreaking news of her untimely passing as she has been at the forefront of the battle for women’s rights on the continent. She founded one of the very few Feminist Consulting Groups in Africa – Nordic Consulting Group (U) Limited. At the time of her demise, Stella was employing all her energies fighting for women’s justice through research as the Regional Director for Africa at the International Center for Research on Women (ICRW).

Stella has been an activist whose work guiding governments and civil society on gender-responsive policy development influenced a number of policies in Africa including the banning of Female Genital Mutilation in Nigeria and Uganda’s Domestic Violence Act. The inclusion of progressive reforms for women in Uganda and Rwanda’s constitutions are some of the other processes that Stella engaged policy makers with to advance women’s rights. True to her feminism and her love for African women’s emancipation, Stella’s voice was always out-and-out on the issues that affected the women’s movement. Civil society in Uganda cannot forget how boldly she came out against the shrinking space for civic engagement in 2017 which among other injustices saw Action Aid International Uganda and the Great Lakes Institute for Strategic Studies (GLISS) bank accounts frozen.

In her work, Stella facilitated and advocated for women’s engagement in critical spaces by supporting women in leadership and creating linkages between governance and rights. When she was not in that room imparting knowledge and ideas to young African women, she was away mentoring others to follow in the steps of feminist and transformational leaders who have gone before them. Besides feminist mentorship, Stella was zealous about sisterhood and the importance of looking out for one another and it comes as nosurprise that she is one the women who spearheaded the inaugural convening of the Uganda Feminist Forum in 2008.

I fully embrace my responsibility to stand up to patriarchy at whatever scale in both my private life and the public spaces that I occupy. This responsibility includes ensuring that every woman understands their worth as a human being and makes an effort to defend their personhood and dignity – Stella, in an interview with the African Feminist Forum

During her time as the Chairperson of the Akina Mama wa Afrika (AMwA) International Governance Board, Stella provided stewardship that transitioned AMwA from the global north to the Global South. This transition also enabled the organisation to strategically position and address pertinent issues that affect the lives of African Women in Africa and the Diaspora. She further provided direction on how the feminist movement in Africa could cultivate value for women in leadership and sustain their initiatives, to develop their leadership capacities and amplify their voices to address gender inequality and women’s empowerment. Stella has also served on the board of Action Aid International Uganda and Open Society Initiative for East Africa (OSIEA) and Mentoring Program for Young Women (MEMPROW).

I remember Stella as one of the feminists who trained me in the African Women’s Leadership Institute (AWLI) in 2006. I will never forget the valuable advice she gave us during the training on feminism and human rights – Nyambura Gathumba, AMwA Alumna, Hivos East Africa

Farewell thee Stella, you are gone but you have left a legacy that has transformed Uganda, Africa and the world that will continue influencing feminism on the African continent. You have been beautiful, wise, cheerful, pleasant, confident, firm in your beliefs, supportive, and an irreplaceable sister. We shall miss your delightful presence in all our spaces and shall not stop speaking truth to power and mobilising until every woman's voice counts, every right respected and all systems and structures that continue to legitimise the oppression of and discrimination against women are eradicated, in your honor. Rest well Stella, Rest in Power!!

Forget your everyday workshop. When over 30 courageous and trailblazing young women from different backgrounds get together in a safe space to share and reflect on women’s lived experiences of Sexual and Gender Based Violence, feminism is reaffirmed and the foundations of patriarchy are shaken! Seeking to improve the rights and amplify the actions of young African women in their fight against all forms of gender-based violence, Akina Mama wa Afrika with support from Comic Relief and in partnership with the Foundation for Women’s Health Research and Development (FORWARD) and the Sub-Sahara Advisory Panel (SSAP) held a vibrant five day training for 28 young women to deepen their knowledge and skills and cultivate a pulsating movement of young feminists. Right from the moment they walked in, one could feel the young women’s energies in the room, brought together by one ache: inequality.

AMwA drew on her over 30 years of feminist leadership development with her revered faculty of invincible feminists to enhance the leadership capacities of the young women who by the end of the training had adopted the name Fellows. From Sunday right through Friday, the Tuwezeshe fellows went through the vigorous process of challenging the beliefs they had held on for so long, questioning what society had socialized them to become and unlearning the negative concepts they held so dear. One can only imagine the liberation they felt when they realized that feminists are not angry women as portrayed by society, but actually have incredible amounts of fun. Equipped with skills and knowledge in understanding feminism, power and patriarchy, sexual and reproductive health rights, feminist leadership and movement building to mention but a few, the young women who spanned the ages of 18-35 are now more confident and assertive and have been facilitated not to take any more form of abuse. Because (In Audre Lorde’s voice) caring for ourselves is not self-indulgence, but self-preservation, self-care in the form of yoga, make-up sessions and movie nights was incorporated in the training.

In the world order, black African women always come last. If that does not make you angry, what will? – Solome Nakaweesi, AMwA faculty

The training was largely interactive to further facilitate the spirit of sisterhood and ensure that each of the participants took part meaningfully, a key component of feminist leadership. As they worked together in small groups, questioning their understanding of notions of women’s rights, a bond was knit between the sisters. As if that was not enough, the tools used during the training such as The Great Debate, The Power Walk not only drew the women closer but also enhanced their public speaking and confidence. Our highlight of the training is the fact each of the ladies had a ‘buddy’ who looked out for them, and to whom they were accountable to, in love. If this is not the beginning of a lifelong friendship, we do not know what is. It is in the same spirit of sisterhood that the ladies visited Remnant Generation, a teenage pregnancy crisis center in Kampala where they interacted with teenage mothers. Did we mention that one of the fellows is the vision bearer of the organization?

Unique to this African Women’s Leadership Institute (AWLI) training was the fact that AMwA created a space for inter-generational dialogue where feminists who have walked the journey before were present to interact with the fellows. In sharing their feminist leadership journeys, Dr. Hilda Tadria and Patricia Twasiima were able to inspire the young women on the new paths they were setting out on. The fearless Hope Chigudu also stepped in and had a heart-to-heart talk on transitioning and strategic planning, also vital areas of feminist leadership. Unknown to the participants, AMwA had more in stock for them with the coming of 2017’s Tuwezeshe fellows who shared their testimonies of the TuWezeshe Akina Dada Africa-UK Young Women’s Leadership and Empowerment Movement. Similar to the 2018 cohort, they sang praises of a sisterhood that was birthed during the previous training. A sisterhood that shares with one another, challenges one another, cries with one another and not forgetting having fun together.

At the end of the training, as the ladies matched out, the power of a legion could not go unnoticed. With their leadership skills enhanced and a peer network created to foster their learning, and paired with mentors to walk the leadership journey with them, it is doubtless that specific sexual and gender based violence issues are going to be history and the lives of women and girls in Africa are to be transformed. As with other alumnae of the African Women’s Leadership Institute, AMwA will walk with the fellows for a period of one year to further ground them in feminist principles. The mentorship programme will see the fellows guided on their social action projects by vibrant feminists in the Uganda Women’s Movement.

For a very long time, I wondered if I was a feminist or not and I was always scared. I am very excited because I'm learning, relearning and unlearning things that has stigmatized - Participant

Participants take part in the Power Walk exercise with FORWARD'S Naana Otoo-OyorteyNaana