By Nooshin Shabani
This article is on a fashion show in Uganda, which was organised by two NGO Organisations in order to promote women’s empowerment.
She puts on her jacket of pride and buttons it up with confidence taking slow steps, moving her hips from left to right, with the expression of a lioness in her own land her eyes roar to the crowd as her stare explains to the judges, she is proud to be an African Woman.
The village women in Uganda start work when the moon is still present; their day is done with only hours before they next arise. The role of a woman is multiple in African society as she acts as the mother, provider, teacher and wife, to have strength is priory .Despite the poverty and 19 years of political conflict, the women in Uganda spend an evening celebrating the true beauty of just being a woman.
Mike Willet, 63, UK, a volunteer with the Global Volunteer Network, an NGO based in Wellington, New Zealand, along with Travis Bogere, director of a Ugandan organisation Macro who helps young people become job creators rather than job seekers, discovered a new way of educating the local woman on woman’s rights issues. Both organisations worked together and organised a fashion show to promote woman’s empowerment.
“The purpose of the fashion show was to promote creativity, teaching the women how to utilise there skills, passing on the message of development and becoming self sustainable within themselves. Said Travis.
The show was held in a local town spot, Eagles nest, and had everything from creative dance, miming, drama and of course the beautiful ladies on the catwalk promoting the traditional African wear. The event grabbed the attention of the local community and they began to get involved arriving in big numbers. While the local town people were cheering outside the ladies were backstage fixing their out fits. The costumes were all self made from local materials such as leaves, tree vines, sisal ropes, banana fibres, stems, newspapers and wood.
What can we expect to see on a catwalk now? , Trendy girls promoting the newest designer label, or maybe half dressed young ladies with dreams of becoming the next top model. As the models strut their stuff they represent their culture and model their identity. As judges make their decisions the prize is not for the most attractive model, but for the most creative model.
“The fashion show was greatly appreciated as it reflects a true African woman and was open to all leaving no room for discriminating” said Travis
However Uganda still has its problems, amongst other African countries the aids epidemic is a huge issue. It seems the lack of education is one of the roots of this problem. According to UNICEF only 28% of the women in Uganda have a comprehensive knowledge of HIV.
“Women are not given education as men take it that women are there to be in the kitchen, look for food, and produce children, so to give them an education its seen as wasting money on them” said Travis
The fashion show was organised in order to help create awareness of what women are entitled too, what woman are capable of, and most of all to educate them on health issues. As Mike Willets came to find this was a huge problem.
“Most of the girls were bought up either by peer groups, grandparents or neighbours. Neither their family, nor the schools gave any sex education at all. With all the money that is being spent on AIDS awareness and the use of condoms , Proper sex education at an earlier age , was probably more important and was the point about AIDS that was being missed” Said Mike.
Giving Aid is not the only source of helping, from donations, to volunteering, to even organising fashion shows, there is different ways to help the world the west has left behind. Use your creativity to make a change. For more information see, www.volunteering.org.nz