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I Celebrate Dr. Miria Matembe as a Conqueror

Dr. Miria Matembe

Dear Honourable Dr. Miria R.K. Matembe,

Today I reflect at that moment I first had a touching encounter with your words in the 1990s. Politicians, activists …talk outrageous words and it is the usual. Your stern statement
“Men are in possession of a potentially dangerous instrument which should be cut off unless it is properly used”, “castrate men who defile and rape girls and women”

will remain a landmark. This took many people by shock and flabbergast. But this was a reflection of the outrage of the affected. Like the saying goes ‘When a dog bites a man that is not news, but when a man bites a dog that is news’. This was the situation.

I remember as a young woman, these words of passion, energy and voice put me in a sober moment to gather myself and rethink what really was contained in your words. From then, I began to follow keenly debates on gender issues and this has shaped my personality, broadened my judgment and understanding generally.

Indeed today, I have no doubt that your ability to voice the universality of women issues and consistently standing up against unjust situations that need correction, without compromising the need to contextualize women’s oppression in different settings has yielded positive results.

No wonder you have earned a gallery of strong adjectives describing you. “You are: a professional conversationalist, political evangelist, senior concerned citizen, avant-garde preacher, governance specialist, hard core, bitter truth vendor, moralist, women rights activist, avowed feminist, voice of the voiceless African woman, wife, mother, …name it, the list is endless”.

Dr Miria Matembe, you are one of those brains that have shaped the legal environment and constitution of Uganda and today we have one of the best gender sensitive constitutions in the world. To date, at least one third of women are in political offices. You have made women visible and audible.

While in Parliament you stood up and demanded fair treatment of views of women to be heard and not treated as intruders in the House. To you, it was serious business in Parliament; hence you were labeled “alarm-clock” for waking up sleeping Members of Parliament. You were vocal against use of sexist remarks and promoted use of gender-neutral language in Parliament. Today, women can stand up and demand to be respected and heard (including myself) in any sphere of life without being shut down.

Hurray! You championed the ‘1.5 Struggle’ on the education of the women and girls in Uganda. The introduction of affirmative action for girls’ education is a policy that enabled me pursue my university education. Many women will attest to benefiting from the 1.5 additional points for admission into an institution of higher learning. Otherwise, I would have not joined university then.

You championed the amendment on spousal co-ownership of the marital home and land used for daily subsistence of the family in 1998. You put up a spirited fight that saw the Domestic violence Act; the Female Genital Mutilation Act and the Trafficking in Persons Act passed. To date, refund of dowry, Female Genital Mutilation is outlawed. I now understand and value I'm not commodity or a good to be priced and paid for, neither is my daughter.

You have always stood for the truth such as opposing the constitutional amendments that did not favor democratic principles of governance in Uganda such as removal of Presidential term limits something you termed a form of corruption. As minister of Ethics and Integrity, you were vocal on corruption and called for zero tolerance and stern action on all those found unethical and corrupt. I today appreciate that it is women and children who suffer most from the effects of corruption and detest corruption.

You started and have continued mobilizing women to participate in development, leadership and politics when society saw this as insubordination and taboo. A multitude of women have over time gained the courage to take leadership and political offices at all levels and founded organizations. I remember while at university, every Friday, your organization ACFODE held meetings with undergraduate girls grooming us for leadership roles. To date many of us are in various leadership positions in politics, organizations, and communities. It’s in these meetings I started pursuing my leadership dreams and goals.

You have led this journey through bravery, faith and focus. We are already half way the journey and we cannot break ‘Our pot of water’ when we are just at the door step. Together (men and women) we shall deliver the ‘Pot of water’ home. Together, we shall continue conquering unjust treatment, oppression and tyranny against women, one day at a time.

I will forever be grateful to you for inspiring women, with consistency, comprehension and grasp. You are an inspiration to me, many others and generations to come.

You are my HERO and CHAMPION. I celebrate your triumphs.

God bless the woman

Yours in the struggle

Grace Ikirimat Odeke

This story was written for World Pulse’s Girls Transform the World Digital Action Campaign.

World Pulse believes that women's stories, recommendations, and collective rising leadership can—and will—bring girls greater access to education which will transform their lives, their families, and communities. The Girls Transform Campaign elicits insightful content from young women on the ground, strengthens their confidence as women, and ensures that influencers and powerful institutions hear their stories.
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This is a powerful story of how women can transform the world.
I quite like how you have presented this.
Thank you for introducing such a legend to the community over hear. Right now Maldives needs to learn from places like Uganda.

So glad I came across this reading through your comment on my post.

Regards
Aminah

Salaam
Aminah

ikirimat's picture

Thx Aminah for leaving those

Thx Aminah for leaving those strong and appreciative comments. Pulse wire is the right platform for us to continue interacting and sharing. One at a time we make a difference.

Grace Ikirimat

"It takes the hammer of persistence to drive the nail of success."


surfgirl-CA's picture

beautiful way to honor her

Grace - i appreciated learning about affirmative action for girls' education & the other laws this heroine has championed.I has no idea that Uganda has " one of the best gender sensitive constitutions in the world." Wow! It takes such courage. I always think of Wangari Maathai & how she suffered. But what a woman, what a tigress! You African women are forces to be reckoned with. I think you are gorgeous examples of female power, something ppl do not always associate w/ women -- as tho females should not act powerful, as tho it is not 'feminine.' But just watch us protect our babies, our land, and yes, our men when we can. And ourselves, now, finally.

As a writer, I also love hearing your idioms...
we cannot break Our pot of water when we are almost at the door step.

big hugs 2 U!

surfgirl-CA --
When we come from the willingness to love, not fear, we will see the best and highest materialize in our world.
Quand nous venons à partir de la volonté à l'amour, pas la peur, nous allons voir le meilleur et le plus élevé se matérialise

ikirimat's picture

Tina, I am humbled by your

Tina,
I am humbled by your encouraging comments. Thanks for reading. I am very encouraged.
Be blessed.

Grace Ikirimat

"It takes the hammer of persistence to drive the nail of success."


Diane Ezeji's picture

Strong women

I enjoyed reading your article and learning about Matembe. It seems the only news I hear about Africa is negative and reading this was refreshing. It makes me want to learn more about her and about Uganda. I am currently reading about Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar. There are dynamic women out there and when they are brought to our attention it strengthens all women.

What does the expression mean: we cannot break our pot when we are almost at the doorstep? I love expressions and would like to know this one.

Diane

Diane Ezeji

surfgirl-CA's picture

chk out this book re. Burma...

I just read it last week - i thinkit was printed in 2002. From The Land of Green Ghosts. A memoir of a hill tribesman -- gorgeous evocations of the land & animist culture, then his movement into modernity & his involvement in the rebellion against the junta. What a despicable regime. They all looked to ASSK as their icon. Let me know if you get to it. That woman - ASSK - is a wonder, isn't she? And her husband, who stood by her, if I am correct. BLESSINGS on HER!

surfgirl-CA --
When we come from the willingness to love, not fear, we will see the best and highest materialize in our world.
Quand nous venons à partir de la volonté à l'amour, pas la peur, nous allons voir le meilleur et le plus élevé se matérialise

Diane Ezeji's picture

Books!

Thank you for taking the time to tell me about this book. I have seen it on Amazon and have it in "my shopping cart". I will try now, with your recommendation to get my hands it. Again, thank you. I have found three books with information on ASSK: "Courage: Portraits of Bravery in the Service of Great Causes", "Character is Destiny", and "The Cushion in the Road".

Please keep in touch, I love talking to another reader.

Diane

Diane Ezeji

Hello, everyone - join the book club if interested. We can continue our conversation re. books after VOF... it will be interesting to hear what ppl in different parts of the world are reading on the topics that interest us.

surfgirl-CA --
When we come from the willingness to love, not fear, we will see the best and highest materialize in our world.
Quand nous venons à partir de la volonté à l'amour, pas la peur, nous allons voir le meilleur et le plus élevé se matérialise

ikirimat's picture

Hello Diane, This saying

Hello Diane,

This saying literally means that we (women empowerment and equality efforts) have come this far (good progress is being realized) and we don't have to give up now, we should persist until we (reach home) achieve our goals of gender equality (pot of water) .

Again thank you for your appreciation.

Grace Ikirimat

"It takes the hammer of persistence to drive the nail of success."


Diane Ezeji's picture

Pots

Thank you. Keep going strong. Diane Ezeji

Diane Ezeji

SallyB's picture

Men and Women together

What a heartfelt letter to your hero! I love it! I also appreciate your assertion that men and women, together, are working to conquer injustice. It's so important to not exclude men from our mission to protect and uplift the women of the world as we are their mothers, sisters, and daughters.

boughnea's picture

Thank you for writing about

Thank you for writing about Dr. Matembe. I didn't know of this remarkable leader, but I find her impact on gender relations inspiring and energizing. Thank you!

ikirimat's picture

Thank you for the strong

Thank you for the strong comment. Yes Dr. Matembe has persistently voiced the issues of the voiceless in Uganda. I find her speaking out on real issues affecting the common woman. She has created good impact on the political and social arena in Uganda.

Grace Ikirimat

"It takes the hammer of persistence to drive the nail of success."


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