Uganda: In groups we can - International Women's Day in Kampala
13 March 2009

Burundi drummers perform during International Women's Day in Kampala. (Susi Moeller/JRS)
In her defining address she encouraged refugee women to continue struggling to improve their situation in spite of the difficulties they face as refugees.
Kampala, 13 March 2009 Last Friday the JRS Urban Programme in Kampala celebrated the International Women’s Day. The event was brought forward because the day (8 March) was due to fall on a Sunday when the JRS office is normally closed.

JRS celebrated the day under the theme “In Groups We Can,” relating to refugee women empowerment. Among the day’s activities were testimonies by refugee women showcasing their relative achievements in exile, a play by the JRS English Class, and traditional dances by groups from various nationalities.

The day’s guest speaker was Mrs. Collette Masamba, herself a Congolese refugee who had formerly worked with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In her defining address she encouraged refugee women to continue struggling to improve their situation in spite of the difficulties they face as refugees. She particularly urged them to take full advantage of the educational opportunities offered by organisations like JRS, as well as other chances for economic and social advancement.

Carrying on through exile

Ms. Tokunda Kabali, President of the Association of French-Speaking Refugees (ASSOREF) and elected representative of Congolese refugee women to UNHCR in Uganda, also gave an inspiring talk on the importance of resisting self-pity and trying to carry on with life as if exile had never existed.

In line with the United Nation’s theme for the day, “Men and Women United to End Violence against Women and Girls”, excitement reached fever-peak when the JRS English Class performed their play depicting the plight of women in war time.

In the drama a mother and her three daughters are raped by an armed gang while the man of the house is bound helpless to come to their rescue. On learning what has befallen his wife and daughters, however, he sends the innocent womenfolk away from his home, to go and live with “their” men. Eventually, by some luck they make their way to Kampala, where they find JRS ready and willing to help them.







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