Acting and raising awareness against sexual harassment and abuse
Our second time in Africa was a result of a series of incredible luck and flow as we were able to connect to our colleagues in Uganda in a discussion around obstacles that women experience on their path to dignified state, empowering environment and safe life. In this project we wanted to use culture forms like film and theatre to open up public discussions about sensitive and taboo subject of violence and harassment against women and find means to be able to spread women’s experiences “behind the scenes” despite harsh censorship and poor access to the internet.
We wanted to conduct some discussion meetings with local decision makers as well as a series of workshops in film and theater technology for women influencers, thereby changing and giving higher priority in social debate to issues of gender equality, sexual abuse and legal certainty. We wanted to give voice to women in the media, teachers, students and activists within the SCO.
The project was made possible thanks to the support from Swedish Institute and done in collaboration with 3 local organisations in Kampala: Muwanga Development Organisation, High Sound for Children and Media Challenge Initiative. In total, over
Strategic objectives of the project were corresponding to SDG 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls,
SDG 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.
Slowly building up resilience and capacity we aim to contribute to end all forms of discrimination against all women and girls everywhere. That we hope to do through enhancing the use of enabling technology, in particular information and communications technology, to promote the empowerment of women. Gradually we hope to trengthen sound policies and enforceable legislation for the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls at all levels, promote and enforce non-discriminatory laws and policies for sustainable development.
We wanted to draw attention to grassroots issues that affect women’s ability to protect their interests, participate in community life and decision-making, namely abuse and sexual harassment of women from others community members and also their families, in schools and workplaces in Uganda.
So what we want to influence directly through the project is not the level of violence in intimate relationships by itself but the silence that exists on the issue of women’s position and vulnerability to violence.
We see reduction in violence as a more long-term result of these open discussions.
We wanted to implement the project in order to raise together with our Ugandan colleagues, present problems that women experience on the way to gain power over their lives, decisions and safety. Instead of working with central media that is under tight control, we researched a possibility to strengthen and support a number of committed resourceful women to become more efficient information spreader and content creators. Through a number of individual talks and stories that we wanted to present in an appealing creative format of short films and
plays, we intended to achieve a media campaign effect but with much more flexibility and decentralized means. Instead of tackling gender issues directly and in that way risk confrontation with those in power as well risk life and health of local women journalists, teachers and activists, we aimed at together with local women’s own voices and vision, create a wave of opinion and awareness of problems nationally and internationally. This would then lead to incremental changes in local and national legislation and policy-making, and provide
women more space in social life. That was what we hoped for.
There is a huge problem of women and girl child abuse by family members, at school and in the community. Young and adolescent girls are confronted with sexual harassment by peer groups, male teachers in schools and community members. This problem is exacerbated by corruption within the state agencies who practice bribe to let the offenders go scot free after committing these crimes. Parents tend to force their daughters at early ages into marriage for want of money and other forms of gifts like dowry of two goats or one cow and the poor victims end uphelped to access justice. The women are confronted with challenges of domestic violence committed to them by their spouses. They are beaten and sometimes thrown out of their houses and poor women have no freedom of expression, many widows and orphans are forced out of their matrimonial homes by clan leaders after the death of the husband/father.
Women are usually directed not to decide on their own the leaders of their choice, they would want to vote and when they vore for people against the will of their spouse they get harassed and beaten by husbands.
Activities that we carried out were:
- Conducting 8 bigger group discussions and over 10 small group/idividual talks about women’s issues health, safety and rights; recording a number of interviews on the topic with the local activitists and journalists.
- 4 Workshops in storytelling and media production that resulted in several short media productions materials made by women in the project groups.
- 3 Workshops in theater technique, as well as preparation of short pieces on the topic of the project.
- 6 meetings for discussion of the issues with local active groups for women’s safety and rights and social mobilisation.
- Discussion and design of a theoretical platform for further promotion of the project objectives, sharing thoughts and ideas. Originally we planned for creatively designed online resourses like a blog or/and a youtube channel but this idea was modified due to technical obstacles and social mobilisation specifics that we were not aware about before.
Equality and non-discrimination mean that not only women get to speak
and decisions in society, but also that men are relieved of half of their responsibility for community development. This creates more harmonious and balanced relationships in the family and in the workplace, reduces anxiety and increases public health and economic growth on a larger scale, which contributes to long-term social development.
As an outside organization from another country, we cannot influence Uganda’s politics or culture; we can, however, with our knowledge of civil processes and social dynamics clearly see the effect gender discrimination and low level of equality have on community development. Through collaboration with our partners, other local actors, journalists, teachers and activists in the area, we can raise awareness of this connection and share with us of methods that help to both increase gender equality and reduce it gender discrimination in the region.
Results of the project
- A group of committed activists and influencers gathered in a creative network for one long-term cooperation,
- Students who want to fight for their better future were introduced to opportunities to spread their thoughts internationally,
- Synergies of collaboration between women in the media, students, teachers and activists within civil society, were articulated and put to the test,
- Ugandan women’s fight for their human rights, protection from sexual
harassment and violence, security and legal certainty were made visible in a way that has greatest chance to pass censorship and the condemnation of honor culture,
- Women who work with other women and young people gained pedagogical skills in conducting these creative workshops as well as support from our organizations,
- Women (influencers) gained broader knowledge and insight into issues of violence and harassment in its direct and long-term effects,
- Resourceful women in Uganda gained knowledge about information and
- The attention of local decision-makers was directed to problems of violence against women and its effects on local development.
More information (oh so much more!!) exists in the project files and within the network that was created during these two unforgettable weeks in Uganda, Kampala with surroundings. So much more work we can do together! On all levels, no effort is too small or too short, as we have learnt. Please let us know if you want to become a part of this work!
For any other questions feel free to contact (preferably by Whatsapp) the project workers Tania Bauder +46761665626 and Evelyn Rodriguez +34666232916.