Responding to the absence of young women in policy spaces and programming on peace and security, The Peace Centre is this week training young women from Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and Uganda to empower them to be leaders and agents of peace in the Feminist leadership Institute in Seeta, Uganda.
The work of The Peace Centre is founded on the progressive principles of feminism acknowledging that the feminist movement has been in existence for long.
The Peace Centre subscribes and its work is guided by the Charter of Feminist Principles for African Feminists which ring true to the work of amplifying women voices, and the belief that anyone labelled as a second-class citizen must be protected without labelling.
The Self-Love Camp is part of the Women’s International Peace Centre’s strategic positioning that prioritizes intentional well-being as one of the areas of engagement that builds sustainable feminist leadership and movements. The Peace Centre believes that there is need for deliberate and intentional investment in self-care and wellness of feminist leaders through specific tailor-made initiatives (such as this camp) and mainstreaming wellness throughout all programmes and interventions. As the new year and new decade begins, we believe it’s time to set new year and new decade goals for feminist leaders and organisations which, also must include wellness goals.
We are a collective of Women Leaders in Uganda; the Stewards of our organisations, collectives and movements – we are Executive Directors, Board Members and Senior Management Team Members. We are here as equals, challenging power and how it is exercised by us, for us and against us within our own spaces and organisations. We are here because we desire to deepen our appreciation, practice of transformative feminist leadership and wellness. We are here because we acknowledge that we are vulnerable and there is power in that. We are here because we believe that we cannot give from an empty cup. We are here because we choose to politicize our individual and collective wellness as an act of transformational feminist leadership. We are here because we decided that our wellness is just as important as our work.
We LOVE ourselves as leaders and prioritized two days to sit back and reflect on feminist leadership and wellbeing. We, the 21 women that participated in the Feminist Leadership and Self-Love Camp are the self-care conspirators that have dared to walk this journey… and we all ask; how did we get here?
What a powerful Feminist Leadership and Self-Love Camp this was! These precious 48 hours were animated with:
We shared our stories of being unwell (physically, mentally, emotionally financially and spiritually), decoded what make us unwell, experiences of how being unwell impacts on transformational leadership. We also shared the contemporary ways that are being employed to enable us to thrive and cope as well as recalled our invaluable cultural ways in which wellbeing was practised in the past/present.
Acknowledging that lack of rest for us as women, the pressure to beat donor deadlines and manage organisations, long working hours and digital-related stress are some of the ways that make us unwell, we took some time to undertake practical ways of sleep therapy. Massage therapy accompanied this, and it worked – we left feeling revived.
Art and Writing Therapy
We delved into our creative and crazy selves – drew, painted, wrote our hearts out, journaled and offloaded. We are lighter!
As a way to deepen our appreciation of each other, our personal politics and who we are; we blind-dated each other and got to know someone better at a ‘Masquerade Blind-Date Dinner’.
Closing Ritual; Celebrating Love
A closing ritual was jointly undertaken where each woman leader was given a rose in acknowledgement of their resilience (just as the thorns on the roses) as well as their vulnerability (as feeble as the petals of the roses). The roses were also in celebration of women leader’s commitment to love themselves and other women. And in celebration of feminist and sisterly love.
As a feminist organization that is committed to the intentional integration of wellness into the ways and practices of organizing for transformational leadership, we developed a training model, “Harnessing Our Power with Soul: Bespoke curriculum for Transformational Leadership and Wellness” with the support of Womankind Worldwide through the “Women’s Advocacy for Voice and Empowerment through inclusive platforms in Uganda” project.
The Bespoke Curriculum contains some practical activities in an attempt to meet the needs of diverse groups at different stages of organizational growth and their varied approaches to learning and ways of sharing knowledge. This allows activists to visualize the experiences of others doing similar work to their own and to see themselves in these experiences.