“Being a feminist to me is not a label but a lifestyle“…Delphine Serumaga
Gender roles and patriarchy have seeped deep into society. The tailoring of tasks to certain genders is widely accepted and many people live with this notion. Many also believe that some professions should be left to men. Trying to desensitize people about these notions and beliefs can be quite the work, as many people have been brought up with it. This is a challenge that Delphine Serumaga takes on every day as she tries to enlighten women to see what they are capable of, what they can do, and just how they should not be limited by whatever rule or societal belief exists.
After completing her studies in Canada, Delphine Serumaga worked in the City of Toronto in the late 80s, where she worked to survive as a single mother, even though she was privy to the fact that she could have just raised her daughter with social support. She opted to keep working because of her passion for women’s development. In those years, she worked as a counsellor for abused women and provided services for immigrant women. All these experiences helped her to meet women from various places, provide better services to women because she could understand them, teach others to understand women better, understand social challenges and needs of women, address community, institutions and government organizations to look into gender and culture aspects of community and make a difference for women.
She is an Individual African Feminist who is currently living and working in both Uganda and South Africa. She works on strategic and organisational development for women’s rights. Her goal stems from her deep will to see women’s rights not as mere projects but as a way of toning down the reigns1 of patriarchy in society.
With a strong character, Delphine Serumaga stays true to her agenda and shows her feminism in her way of life. The way she interacts with people is curried from her deep-seated value for human rights, dignity and equity, “I have always indicated to teams that I have led that my style is based on knowing when to lead from the front and when to lead from behind. I feel it is important to let individuals in teams to know that initiatives, ideas and concepts do not always belong to or come from the leader.” She is not biased, but for women’s rights in the workplace, she is ready to transition to her biased form and fight it out.
Delphine Serumaga is concerned about making women detach negativity from their opinions about feminism. She absolutely intends to dissociate the helms of patriarchal socialization from women.
Her feminist ideology is that with feminism there will be equality and that it should be incorporated in various institutions of the society. To her, feminism can lead to the stoppage of some problematic issues such as poverty and HIV. “The equality of women in leadership and decision-making is what I think makes a better solution to social development and peaceful transformation and more importantly raises women’s quality of life globally.”
In an interview with World Pulse, she recounted that she realized what problems women faced right from a tender age and she knew that only the support of other women could make her come out of that problem, hence her reason for coming out as a personal fighter for the cause. “I believe I am where I am today and content with my life choices because of the paths set by the strong women in my life.”
She is greatly concerned about women around the world. She believes that leadership should be given to women as they would do better and this makes her keep forging on to make more women empowered so they can fill up leadership seats.
Her love for her daughter further fuels the passion she has for women. Her daughter is also a woman who will get to live in the world and if women are not allowed to soar, her daughter will also become a victim. Ms. Serumaga once stated that “I am a mother of one girl. As a result of my own experiences growing up as a young African girl, I am committed to impart information that will safeguard my daughter as she grows and experiences the world. I do not want her to grow up in fear or with a negative attitude towards the world…“
Delphine Serumaga has a long history of working with women and helping them in various ways. She once volunteered at the women’s rights organization in South Africa, where she later led as the Executive Director, then retired. She enjoys giving voice to women, and she makes sure their voices enter the government and private sectors of society. Ms Delphine also took up the role of addressing gender mainstreaming and violence based on gender. She also joined POWA (People Opposing Women Abuse) in 2001 with a goal to make POWA have a place in NGO so that she could advocate for women’s rights as a government priority and address issues that affect women and children. The POWA organization has gone far in helping women by providing counselling for women who have experienced domestic violence and sexual harassment, with Powa she also stands on trial for misrepresenting women.
She joined UN Women because she wanted to manage women’s rights globally and multi-dimensionally. With this, she believes she will be able to share her advocacy for the rights of women, nationally and globally. She also joins the fight against child marriage whenever an opportunity arises. She believes that the protection of the girl child is a critical human right.
Every woman today who achieves greater heights is creating a better world for the upcoming girl child. Those who take on feminism and women empowerment should not treat women as projects but as friends who should be helped to overcome trauma and be able to live and thrive in society.
Written By: Joyce C. Nwezeh Obi-Akejelu (Writer, Social media manager and graphic designer with Africa4AfricaWomen/Assert/PAWES).