A child in the slums where we had our photography workshop @Amina Mohamed Photography

HOW IS INTERNATIONAL WOMAN’S DAY CELEBRATED IN UGANDA?

In a country such as Canada, we are regarded at least in most cases as equals to our male counterparts.  Or at least we like to think we are.  There are apparent struggles with gender equality, pay equality and rights around female reproduction.  However, those issues are brought more into light in a developing country, such as Uganda.

As I write this, I have spent time already on social media today, seeing post after post from women I know celebrating International Woman’s Day.

I, too, posted.  But we are fortunate as we have a voice with which to speak up about the issues surrounding females rights.  However, in Uganda, my female students don’t have that right.

Sadly, their lives don’t change.  They work tirelessly without complaint from sun-up to sun-down walking miles and miles to go to work and miles and miles to come home.  When they get home, they have child-rearing duties, or they need to cook and clean for their husbands or families.  They go to bed tired, and they wake up tired, and on the seventh day, they go to church to be thankful for the small blessings they do have.  They never complain because there is nobody to complain to.

Statistics among young women in Uganda are a sad state of affairs. There are high rates of unintended pregnancies, abortions given in unsafe clinics, increased STDs, child abuse, including gender-based violence and sexual abuse. Due to COVID-19, the rates of incidences have increased.

Education in Uganda is not free, and many girls may get to school but will drop out when they become pregnant, and their chances of going back to school are very low, limiting their opportunities to find good-paying jobs.  Furthermore, society views these young women and mothers as damaged goods, which limits their prospects.

This morning, as I wished my students Happy International Woman’s Day, one of my students wrote to me to explain how her ex took her child from her and will not return the child and not allow her to visit.  In a country where women are not considered equals, she is left with very little recourse and, worse, feeling like she is less of a mother and a woman.  Sadly, this is true around the world.

Cameras For Girls provides young women and girls an opportunity to level the playing field by working with themes of gender-equality and alleviation of poverty. We not only teach photography to these women, but we provide a platform whereby they can reach the economic status they desire.  By providing a safe space to learn, grow and enhance their entrepreneurial skills, we are doing our best to level the gender divide.

We all have a long way to go to level the field for females all over the world. By working together, we can provide females worldwide to have the same opportunities we have here in Canada.

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