As our last speaker of this Sustainable Development course, David "Sister" Batema came and spoke to us about the many biases that continue to exist within the Ugandan culture that inevitably lead to the ever-present gender inequalities within the country. Although human rights are nicely laid out within the Ugandan Constitution, Mr. Batema stated that the issue with upholding these rights comes from the idea that when masses of people deem certain aspects of society as "normal", these traditions become embedded within the culture, then migrate into religion, until finally transpiring into laws. Such is the issue with the societal construct of gender and the inequalities that exist between the laws and expectations that govern the people.
Throughout Sister Batema's speech, I was able to clearly see the the inequalities that surround the women in Uganda, from the divorce procedure they must follow, to them being expelled if they become pregnant out of wedlock, to female students getting a 1.5 GPA point addition. However, although Batema drew to our attention the many unfair circumstances the women face, I feel that he failed to actually explain what he does to change this, and instead he almost just reinforced some of the traditions that hinder human rights development. This made me question what progressivism looks like in Uganda vs. the U.S. and I believe that it demonstrates just how powerful an impact culture has when it comes to moving towards sustainability.
Questions for Drake and MUBS students:
How do you think the idea of being "progressive" varies based on the U.S. culture vs. Ugandan culture, and are people like Mr. Batema on the road towards making Uganda sustainable in regards to human rights?
How do you feel about female students getting an automatic 1.5 GPA point increase? Do you think that this helps the students or does it inherently teach them that they are less and cannot/are not expected to achieve as much as male students can?
What does it say about the current state of gender inequalities that Mr. Batema addressed women in the household for a long period of time, but did not mention women in the workforce until he was asked a question about it? Can his focus lead us to believe that he may have hidden biases that hinder him from being the best women's rights activist?
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