Our CHanGEmakers: 12 young people acting for a gender equal world!

In the summer of 2017, the first generation of 12 CHanGEmakers travelled to DR Congo, Uganda and India. In small teams, they discovered the complicated local realities surrounding gender equality and sexual and reproductive rights and health. Together with partner organisations in those countries, they researched the complex stories and nuanced realities of women and men and the organisations that work around these themes. They introduce themselves below.

Team Congo

Genaldine Dialungana, Eva Declerck and Manou Ballyn stayed in DR Congo’s capital Kinshasa from the end of July until mid-August. They collaborated with Maison de la Laïcité by mapping the organisations and initiatives fighting for gender equality and a better access to sexual and reproductive rights within the city.

“Full of admiration we took part in the Leadership Camp of Merveille – ‘Meilleure Vie’ – Lutumba, a 25 years old woman living in Kinshasa. With her Aquilla’s Group she is preparing the next generation of strong women by teaching girls between 10 and 14 years old to fight for their dreams, express their solidarity with each other and help them develop their capacities. ‘Faire ce que tu peux avec ce que tu as,” a lesson never to forget!’ “

Team Uganda

Zoë Kalala, Jad Zeitouni, Janne Vanhoof, Dorothy Adobea and Lore Roggeman studied the local realities in Uganda in the first three weeks of September. They worked together with HALEA (Humanist Association for Leadership, Equity and Accountability), one of Uganda’s most active humanist organisations. Together with the local staff, they met a vast pool of inspiring change makers in and around Kampala. One of their most interesting encounters was with FARUGFreedom and Roam Uganda.

“When we arrived at the FARUG office, we were immediately welcomed by a hospitable laugh and a high degree of diversity. FARUG provides support to the LGBT-community in Uganda, and this is certainly not without danger. They are literally fighting for their place in society, to be accepted, and to be able to be themselves. The people we met there have a heart of gold, but also a heart filled with courage and perseverance. Our meeting with them was an inspiration to us all, as they not only fully grasp the concept of diversity and its function within society, but also are a vivid example of it. We want to end with the words of Arthur, a transgender man from Uganda, and send his courage to the world: ‘It is very simple. Accept the fact that you are different. The rest will automatically work for you. Because the biggest challenge of all is not loving yourself.’ ”

Team India

Meet team India: Mira Kaloshi, Eva Sevrin, Katya Bohdan and Laila Bagar went around Delhi to find fighters for gender equality and organisations standing up for sexual and reproductive rights. They will remember their visit with Jagori for a long time.

“Jagori is an organisation that is committed to ‘survivors’ – not victims! – of domestic violence. Jagori means ‘wake up, women’, a message they carry out loud and clear. Although they encounter strong opposition from certain families, they remain a proud feministic NGO that supports many women year in year out. ‘We’re feminists because feminism gives us the freedom to question the things society teaches us as natural!’

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