Womanhood festival to reward unsung heroines

POLLY KAMUKAMA

The third annual Celebrating Womanhood Festival (CWF) has today quietly kicked off at the National Theatre in Kampala with a promise of rewarding unsung Ugandan heroines.

Organized to coincide with World Women’s Day week, the five-day festival comprises of various programmes aimed at mobilizing and empowering women, as well as drawing public’s attention to women’s plight, and is themed Celebrating Women’s Accountable Leadership.

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POWERFUL: To coincide with the festival’s theme, a number of women emancipation-themed films are lined up to screen, including the hit 2011 Winnie Mandela biopic, Winnie, starring Jennifer Hudson and Terrence Howard.

It has quickly grown to become a major hit on the local entertainment calendar, drawing in hundreds of guests from all over the world every year since debuting in 2012.

And this year is promising to be even bigger, thanks to the introduction of new exciting programmes including an inter-university and inter-secondary school debating showdown where discussants will deliberate over various issues including the newly-enacted Anti-pornography law.

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EMANCIPATOR: Sarah Nsigaye hopes to use her Womanhood festival to empower Ugandan women.

But perhaps the main attraction this year will be the festival’s inaugural awards ceremony to be held on Friday aboard a sailing ship on Lake Victoria.

“We want to reward a few people who have done tremendous work in inspiring Ugandan women but are still unknown to the world,” Sarah Nsigaye, the festival’s founder and director, said of the ten accolades to be given out at the discretion of CWF management.

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WOMEN TALK: A group of female panelists discussing the plight of a Ugandan woman.

Among those to be rewarded, we have been told, are two Ugandan men and a group of young Nigerian girls who recently invented a generator that runs on urine. The rest are ordinary Ugandan women with huge success stories.

A professional journalist and filmmaker, Nsigaye has been influential in championing the rights of women and other marginalized groups in Uganda through the use of art. A few years back, she founded Native Travel, the organization behind the festival.

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POPULAR: The five-day festival has grown into a popular hit, attracting hundreds of revelers every year.

As an NGO, Native Travel particularly uses film to empower women and rural communities. And at this year’s womanhood festival, cinema is expected to play a big part in highlighting women’s problems.

A number of local and international films are lined up to screen, with The Route, a local movie themed on human trafficking expected to raise awareness against a social ill that thousands of  unsuspecting Ugandan girls continue to fall prey to.

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COMMUNITY EMPOWERMENT: Native Travel members shooting a film in Karamoja last year. The NGO uses various arts of form to empower disadvantaged communities.

Winnie, a tribute to South Africa’s former first lady and liberator, Winnie Mandela, will also participate as well as several other short films from Uganda and all over.

Meanwhile, today’s opening ceremony featured a leadership workshop where panelists called for more women participation in high-level politics and economics.

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COOL: The festival also features outdoor film screenings which used to be popular in the ’70s.

Tomorrow’s programme includes more screenings and an inter-secondary school debating challenge where the best performing schools will walk away with prizes. Officials from the government and civil society will also be called in to discuss the pornography law.

The festival runs up to Saturday and all programmes are open to the public free-of-charge except Friday’s boat cruise which is strictly by invite. Other activities to look out for include music performances, poetry sessions, bonfires, standup comedy and a children’s play area among others.

The festival is proudly sponsored by Hivos, The Observer newspaper, Nile Breweries and Amakula among other organizations. Gates open at 10am every day. For more information, please contact 0772 408257 / 0787 925 234. See you there.

kamukamapolly@gmail.com

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