The media in Uganda has in the past few days been awash with conversations (or bitter arguments, to put it more precisely), about the practice of women and girls kneeling. Kneeling is a long-cherished custom among some tribes where females kneel before men and elders as a sign of respect, especially when greeting. The debate was sparked by Oxfam ED, Winnie Byanyima. Byanyima, also wife to Ugandan opposition leader, Kizza Besigye, stirred the wrath of Ugandan social media ‘cultural vigilantes’ when she posted a photograph of a young lady that insisted on kneeling to greet her even after she asked her not to.
Think. What is the Role of Women in the 21st Century Democracy? Don’t answer; just think about what role women could play in this century if the world was caring to listen. That was the gist of the conversations at the recently concluded Global Women Leaders Conference 2017, organized by Presidential Precinct and the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. More than 400 women leaders drawn from a former President, two presidential candidates, CEOs, educationists, and 30 emerging leaders from 25 countries among others shared their experiences, ideas, and thoughts on how women can seize their role in contemporary democracy processes.
The #metoo campaign has been my highlight for October, showing the innate need for understanding, the power of solidarity, the human desire to know that somebody understands – that we are not alone. The stories shared went far beyond Hollywood; an astonishing indication of the pain women and men around the world carry in their hearts; inflicted upon them by people closer to them than we can imagine. What was more bewildering though was that some people still found it in themselves to ask why survivors had taken long to share their stories!
On August 11, 2017, the eve of the International Youth Day, young people from different corners of the world convened at the World Bank in Washington for the International Young Leaders Assembly (IYLA) 2017 Global Summit. IYLA is a partnership-driven leadership development program that empowers young leaders to positively impact their communities, nations, and the world. The delegates who mainly comprised of student leaders and young professionals from various continents of the world were very diverse in background yet all had three things in common – “A Dream to make the world a better place, the Determination to take action and the Dare to make it true.”
Back in Uganda, my daughter, Yolanda – who will be three in September – always looked forward to the time when I returned home from work every evening. Flashing her enchanting smile, she welcomed me with a big hug. But that was never the only thing she looked forward to. As soon as I kicked off my shoes, she would immediately put them on and walk around the living room chuckling away, much to my delight. This story is neither about shoes nor my daughter; but I write about both because they are my favorite subjects.