Wawa Aba Institute in partnership with The Fellowship of Affirming Ministries (TFAM) Uganda launched its first Womanist Theological and Leadership Conference for all women including LBQ women and female sex workers at an undisclosed location in Kampala. The same conference will also take place in Kenya and Rwanda running for two days in each country. TFAM Global Program's Director Reverend Andrea Vassell, Reverend Kellie Turner and Reverend Alba Onoforio from Soul Force are the main facilitators.
In her opening speech, Rev Andrea Vasell said that Wawa Aba Institute was inspired by the realization that there was need for a women centered space without any form of discrimination. It aims at motivating all women to reclaim their voices, empower sisterhood and fulfilment of responsibility for each other. "We need all women to be lifted. We need all the concerns of women to addressed in ways that were implored in the Bible and that's why it was made for women, by women, about women and with women. It's us teaching us and therefore growing with each other."
One of the potential impacts of the conference is for participants to view, learn and understand God through their own "hermeneutical" lenses (in one's own perspective). It also teaches womanism using a womanist theological framework- a concept that was initially birthed by the writer of 'The Color Purple', Alice Walker who spells out the importance of conversations beginning with all women. "Our voices have been left out, our values stomped on and our bodies violated," said Rev Andrea, "...The conversation isn't complete if we are not part of it. Our voices are important. We all deserve to have our rights protected and our bodies held sacred like everyone else."
Also among the courses included christian supremacy in which participants were taken through Bible study sessions both in Luganda and English dialects. This helped address the issue of spiritual violence where a particular individual or group is persecuted based on the scriptures of the Bible with or without any physical violence. According to Rev Alba Onoforio of Soul Force, LGBTIQ/ SW movements have been attacked and pushed out of the circle into margins due to spiritual violence. "Christianity has many years and in various places been used to corrupt cultures, practices and institutions which has been made acceptable and moralised causing spiritual and physical harm," said Alba, "There is a need to empower marginalized groups with tools to halt this kind of violence and dismantle power within systems and institutions that promote it," she emphasized.
Through experience sharing, small group discussions and creative arts, participants were encouraged to freely open up about the different forms of discrimination and violence they suffered within the Ugandan context. Rev Andrea insisted that Reproductive Justice can only be achieved when all women and girls have the power and resources to enable them make healthy decisions in regards to their bodies, sexuality and reproduction so as to fully achieve their human rights in all spheres of society. "Reproductive Justice speaks to institutional power which forces women to be marginalized economically, politically, socially, culturally, sexually and legally. This robs them off their full human rights... Living in silence and separately kills but when we women are united, studies show that women are better off in all factions we have been marginalized and pushed back."
The conference was crowned with submissions from participants collectively vowing to speak out and be accountable to each other on the injustices in their society through the bond of sisterhood, respect and self-love. It was concluded with prayers and blessings from the Reverends.