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Uganda’s LGBTI Activists and Allies Speak Out on Women’s Day

womenSo often, people who work tirelessly and put their own lives at stake for the sake of the greater good go unappreciated or even unrecognized. This Women’s day, we talk to some of the women in Uganda’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) community that have been an inspiration not only through their works but also their lives.

These among many others, have worked tirelessly to ensure that all women have a say in the community, equal access to services, engage in decision making, as well as take  the mantle of leadership.

Looking at the history of Uganda’s LGBTI movement, women have always taken the lead role in advocacy for equality and freedoms for all citizens; it was the lesbians who came out to demand for recognition of sexual minorities in government’s health strategic plan especially in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

Kuchu Times talked to some of the influential women in the Ugandan LGBTI community who have endeavored to elevate the status of a woman in our present society.

“ We appreciate  this day because women can now advocate for themselves but still a lot has to be done in regard to transitional leadership in the women’s movement; those women who have been in power for long time should  step down to empower  young women at the grassroots. Therefore my call to all organizations is to go to the grassroot level and sensitize women because we need more of them with a say to come up and push for  women emancipation programs, ” Majorine Nakimuli of MARPI Mulago.

Nakimuli the team leader outreach programmes MARPI, has been one of the key figures in the health sector that has reached out to gender and sexual minorities, advocating for their need to access health services as easily as the rest of the society.

Ssenfuka Joanita Warry the Executive Director of FARUG said, “On this year’s Women’s Day, we would like to appreciate everyone who has worked with FARUG to advance the cause of gender equality and the issues affecting our young women. FARUG pledges to fight towards progress in access to healthcare for women minorities and inmates, we take front row in the fight against sexual and gender based violence and call for gender inclusive leadership and to uphold career development and sustainability skills for LBTI women. We call upon everyone, LGBT organizations, government, civil society organizations, religious leaders, educational institutions, international human rights organizations and partners, individuals (men and women) to take a concrete step in achieving gender equality as we strive towards sustainable development.”

“As compared to the ancient African setting, a girl child was left behind in many affairs of the state but with the current globalized era, we have seen a shift of trend in regard to this and all this can be attributed to the growth of a very strong African movement. Girls have excelled in different professions and we have now a great number of women across the world holding greater positions in the political arena and other spheres of leadership,” the FARUG ED continued.

Ssenfuka is also one of the leading activists in the community that have made it part and parcel of her duties to specifically advocate  for the rights of women alongside her other contributions to the LGBTI community as a whole.

Clare Byarugaba
Clare Byarugaba

“As a woman, Women’s Day gives me hope for the progress that has been made towards equality, but as a lesbian woman, it’s difficult to celebrate a day that doesn’t recognise my rights. As a lesbian woman, my relationship is not recognised, I cannot marry my partner, she cannot access my social and economic benefits. Until the mainstream women’s rights movement stops putting us all under an umbrella of progressive wins for women’s equality, and starts to recognise that not all women are moving along at the same pace and understand that there is a minority that needs more targeted protection and protection, then I can celebrate Women’s Day without reservation,”Clare Byarugaba,an LGBTI activist retorted.

Clare Byarugaba is an activist fighting for social justice and basic rights for marginalized populations in Uganda.

Background

International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.  International Women’s Day (IWD) has been observed since the early 1900’s – a time of great expansion and turbulence in the industrialized world that saw booming population growth and the rise of radical ideologies. International Women’s Day is a collective day of global celebration and a call for gender parity. No one government, NGO, charity, corporation, academic institution, women’s network or media hub is solely responsible for International Women’s Day. Many organizations declare an annual IWD theme that supports their specific agenda or cause, and some of these are adopted more widely with relevance than others.

“The story of women’s struggle for equality belongs to no single feminist nor to any one organization but to the collective efforts of all who care about human rights,” says world-renowned feminist, journalist and social and political activist Gloria Steinem.

International Women’s Day is all about celebration, reflection, advocacy, and action – whatever that looks like globally at a local level. But one thing is for sure, International Women’s Day has been occurring for over a century – and is growing annually from strength to strength.


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