Stuck on yet another long car ride full of what would be more lengthy traffic jams, the discussion about routes and timelines began. After giving input into the conversation and once again ignored: Shanley piped up, “does anyone want my opinion?”
We had spent nearly two weeks in the centre of Uganda, learning about the intense suffering and hope that the women employed by the Nakate Project experience. And once again we were faced with the patriarchal society, in a car full of men, who made decisions without even the courtesy of checking with us. We were in yet another power struggle and the men retained control.
In a fit of annoyance I loudly responded with, “I hate to tell you this, but Shanley you don’t have a penis, so no, they don’t want your opinion.”
In a place where women are meant to kneel at the feet of men in greeting to show submissiveness, where they are used for sex but are left with HIV and many children, where they are forced to dig to even begin to provide food for those children… this was where, Shanley and I, an American and Canadian respectively, felt the effects of the male dominated society.
And we had had enough.
We were powerless, and having to shout to be heard.
Through all of this I had watched as Ugandan women shared their stories of triumph with us. These women prove they are powerful and strong as they literally fight for their lives.
And I was proud to be a woman.
I have experienced feeling this powerless before. I had allowed a man to control me. And now I was able to commiserate with these women, knowing that my outcome might be different, but the emotional hurts, the fear and pain were the same.
The struggle for empowerment continues.
The women in the village of Kakooge are fighting it through bead making and owning their own businesses. Shanley fights the battle with them as she works with Nakate to market their products.
And I tried to fight it through sarcasm.