Women’s her-story month was born in the United States in the 1980’s with the feminist movement to advocate for equal access to jobs and education. Women have always been part of the revolutions driving change in history and this month is aimed at recognizing those Sheroes, assessing progress of the movement and forging strategies moving forward. Like we did for LGBT history month where we focused very close to home and brought you the history of the Ugandan LGBT movement, this Women’s her-story month we shall be featuring Ugandan Sheroes that have contributed to the fight for equality. The womyn we shall feature have gone a very long way in advocating for inclusion of marginalized groups even in the feminist movement like LBQT women and sex workers.
To kick off our five weeklong celebration, we started very close to our hearts for good luck. Our first #WOMANCRUSHWEDNESDAY is Kuchu Times Media Group Executive Director, Kasha Jacqueline Nabageresa. As we are right from LGBT history month this was a timely first feature because she was very instrumental as far as the history of the LGBT community in Uganda goes. Kasha, an openly confessed lesbian has dedicated her life to fight for the rights of people like herself not only in Uganda but Africa as whole. She and two other LBQ women founded the first sexual minority led and focused organization; FARUG in 2003. She was part of the petitioners that dared to challenge the Anti-Homosexuality Act (Kill the gays bill) in 2014 and the law was later annulled by the constitutional court. If there has been a life altering moment in the LGBT movement, she has been present ready to do what needs to be done.
Kasha has received a number of awards and recognition for her fight for freedom for sexual and gender minorities. Velvetpark Magazine referred to her as a “Brave Heart” in 2010 as they recognized her as the most inspiring queer woman of that year. During the world celebration of the 100th International Women’s Day in 2011, she was listed on the Women’s deliver 100 List as well as the 50 most inspiring feminist women in Africa. That was a wonderful year for Kasha as a human Rights Defender as in that same year she was awarded the Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders which is considered as the Nobel Prize for human rights. In 2013, she was awarded the Nuremberg International Human Rights Award. In 2015, she was named among the Havard Law International Women’s Day Portrait 2015 Honorees for Women Inspiring Change and won the the Right Livelihood Award considered as the Alternative Nobel Peace Prize that same year.
She took time off to speak to the editor about her journey and confesses to having no idea what she was doing in the beginning. She says, “I was a student at University when I started activism. The university I was in then made me sign a memorandum of understanding to stay away from the girl’s hostels and dress ‘appropriately.’ Even though I tried to keep my end of the bargain, the university still found ways to discriminate against me and this was around the time tabloids and media houses started writing about me as well. I had no option from here on because I was already exposed, I got up and used this exposure to fight for the rights of sexual and gender minorities in Uganda.” She shrugs it off and says, “Look at me, the camera loves me!” but you can see the PTSD written all over her face from those times. She realizes the mood has gone somber and jokes of proof, “I was the first openly gay person to be on the cover of TIME Magazine the European Edition, camera loves me!” We both laugh.
She appreciates that there has been progress in the fight to equality but acknowledges that there is still a long way to go. She is especially happy that marginalized women have started getting space in mainstream feminism spaces and believes that this will go a long in victory for us all!
When she is not holding placards and marching somewhere, Kasha spends her time gaming, travelling or watching movies. In her own words, “Anything that will give me blood rush, sign me up!” Kasha loves to party and opened the first gay bar in Uganda. She also feels very strongly towards animals especially dogs.