By Preta Peace Namasaba
Uganda is a predominantly patriarchal society– socioeconomic, political and cultural power is generally held by men. Although the system is slowly changing, with women taking up positions of power, the patriarchal systems that oppress women continue to live on.
From my experience as a feminist, I have come to the conclusion that patriarchy is deeply embedded in us as members of society. It is in what we say or don’t say, the clothes we wear and are shamed for wearing, the decisions we make and those we forfeit.
In an environment where feminist movements are seen as a fringe group with the nefarious aims of bringing about immorality and ruin, individuality is vital. Unfortunately, the herd mentality is thoroughly rooted within–individual liberation is foregone in a bid to fit in the group. In my lifetime, I have witnessed many women forfeit meaningful careers and positions of power to conform to the demands of the patriarchy. I have been in situations where I have encouraged women to take up political positions, but they’ve been adamant because “the position is too big” or “the post is for men.” Ultimately, I am aware that it isn’t the superiority of the position that is scary, but the need to satisfy the patriarchal desire for women to be subservient and second tier.
Sadly, however much the female gender tries to bend to the whims of the patriarchy, it can never be enough to protect them from the violence and derision of men. Every day, I spend time encouraging my sisters to resist, and be part of the feminist revolution. It gives me immense joy to know that as a society we’ve reached heights where women can take up power roles and have their rights still constitutionally guaranteed. Still, it is saddening to know that women remain relegated to assistant positions when they’re capable of so much more. As a feminist, it is my goal to bring about a world where women can make decisions without undue patriarchal influence.
Therefore, as an Afro-feminist, I am fighting for the silenced and the ones dying on the hills of oppression. I hope to shift the norm and bring about a world where women are equal to men. A world where women’s views are heard and taken into account during decision-making. Every story and poem of empowerment I write is a future where women have utmost control over what they choose to do with their lives.
About Challenging Patriarchy
The Challenging Patriarchy programme is a 12-month capacity strengthening initiative for young feminists in East Africa. The programme aims to build a cohort of young feminists through enhanced feminist advocacy capacity strengthening, who understand and challenge patriarchy as it affects their lived realities.
Preta Peace Namasaba is a writer, poet and law student at Makerere University. She identifies as a feminist and is passionate about social justice and the rule of law. She was a 2021 African Liberty Writing Fellow and is 2022 Lead(H)er Fellow. Preta publishes regularly on her personal blog.