Today (March 8) is international women's day! Uganda celebrates this holiday with a public holiday (no school, businesses closed, etc.) and lots of community celebrations! We took part in the BPTC celebration and had a really great day!
While Ryan was running some errands this morning he heard an announcement on the local radio. It said something about how today is a day for celebrating women - thanking them for building up the men of the country. Because *behind* every great man is a women. Later this afternoon while talking to a neighbor, he asked Ryan what I had done for him today, being that today is women's day. He suggested that I slaughter and prepare a he-goat for him.....Charming! (And we'll be making pizza tonight instead of he-goat to celebrate!) So, although clearly not all the "kinks" are worked out of the system (at least not in Uganda), it's an attempt to bring awareness to women's issues, and celebrate the women in the community.
The PTC had a unique celebration planned by the student minister of women's affairs. It included a full morning of sports - men's and women's football (soccer) and volleyball. Ryan and I joined in the non-rotating, non-scorekeeping, volleyball games for a while. There was an awful lot of kicking going in in them as well! (Is serving by kicking legal?!) :-) Then we watched as the first year students took on the second years in a game of football. It was a fun morning with lots of activity and a nice break from the academic aspect of the term.
In the afternoon the students organized what I can best describe as a talent show. It included singing, dancing, joke telling, and a debate. Most of the performances had religious themes (if you move your bible to the back of your taxi, it's likely you'll get in an accident), or themes about avoiding AIDS (Life these days is very delicate, as one song said). At the end tutors were invited to speak so, in true Uganda fashion, I jumped up and took the stage. I talked (briefly) about how important it is for the women of Uganda to take action to fight the issues facing them, as well as how men need to partner with women and work to change their own attitudes as men as well. I thought it was fitting for the day, despite my lack of including comments about respecting the bible or trying not to get AIDS. :-) The students were all very happy with the day - pleased to have a holiday and (I hope) get a chance to think some about women in Uganda.
The day ended on a great personal note for me. I've been working since the beginning of term to get a girl's empowerment club started. I'm hoping to work with girls on lifeskills important to young women, as well as equip them to similarly educate their future students. There has been lots of interested students, and today I was able to talk with a great secretary at the college who committed to facilitating the club with me! She is spunky and blunt and will be absolutely fabulous for it! So, that's good news. We anticipate the club will start next week, so I'll keep you posted with details!
So - Happy Women's Day everyone! I must say I'm thankful to have grown up in a country like America when I think about women's rights and issues. But, I'm also thankful for the opportunity to work with some of Uganda's young women to help them discuss the issues they are facing, and maybe help them think of how to go about changing attitudes and practices that negatively impact their lives as women.
Love and miss you all,