When I first saw the panelists at the discussion of Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In, I thought to myself, “This is going to be another talk where you listen to foreign people speaking about things that do not apply to your situation”. Maybe be I should not have been so dismissive because today’s Video Conference was one of the most lovely events I have been to in a long time.
In a room filled with women of every age, occupation, race , origin but sharing the same zeal and desire for Gender Equality, I felt every chakra of mine open up in a new kind of way, with an energy I have not felt in a while. Some of the phenomenal women present included Miria Matembe, Grace Mukwaya, Irene Ikomo’s mom, and the chick who writes stuff, Mildred Apenyo. It was amazing sharing and learning from these wonderful women.
One of the issues we discussed was how to be successful in your career but at same time successful at home and in your marriage. This is a great challenge for career driven women and sometimes it keeps them at the bottom of their careers because it is more fulfilling to see your children grow up in your hands and to share a happy marriage with your husband. However the question remains, what is the possibility of excelling at both?
Hon. Miria Matembe has been tremendously successful in her political career, her advocacy for gender equality and her marriage life has been strong, solid and blissful. She left us marveled at her success and this is what I learnt from her story: make your partner a real partner, work it out together, you need his support to grow your career and if you have his support, them the marriage will not be rocky.
I also got to share an experience that fit in squarely with one of the themes enunciated by Sheryl. She calls out to women to sit at the table. Last Friday 21st March, the East African Youth Ambassadors’ Platform carried out a sensitization outreach at Uganda Christian University. As a member of the platform, I was assigned a topic of discussion alongside my other three colleagues. However when it got to the sitting arrangement, the three men were asked to sit at the “table” while I was left to sit in the audience.
Here we were, four members of the platform, carrying out an outreach, all with topics to discuss, but the three gentlemen were given special sits at the high table and I, the only lady on the team, was left to sit amidst the audience. At that moment, I did not know what to make of this arrangement and although it bothered me a lot, I did not complain about it. I did not want to come off as seeking attention and overly loud and complaining. So I let it pass.
But I should have sat at the table. I deserved to be at the table and I should not have allowed to be sidelined and kicked to the side of the room. This is another challenge that we need to confront. As women we need to take up our sits at the table, to make decisions, to influence policies, to mentor and to be counted.
So the day was a huge success, I learnt a lot, shared a lot and had fun while at it. One beautiful woman Grace Mukwaya let me in into her life and showed me that the future has a lot to offer. I felt complete today and am grateful to every woman who made it possible at the Digital Video Conference.
On my way back however, I was shaken into reality about the cruelty of the world. A friend of mine and I walked into this shop to buy air time and the attendant directed us to the next shop. Innocently, we walked into IPIGOGO “fashion house” next door and asked if they had airtime vouchers.
The lady sized us up and said,” This is a fashion house not a shop…”
“Excuse me”, I said, “we were only directed here, you can tell us if you have the vouchers or not”.
So we began to walk out of her “fashion house” only to be interrupted by her rude voice, “…and thanks for the mud….” (It had been a muddy walk outside because of the rain).