by Manuel Quintero, Cuba

[Editor's Note: The World Association for Christian Communications (WACC) held its 8th Congress from 6 to 10 October 2008 at Capetown, South Africa. Ruth Ojiambo Ochieng, who is a special member of Isis International Board of Trustees was a key note speaker at the Congress. Isis' research, People's Communications for Development (PC4D) was also presented during the event by Sharon Bhagwan Rolls, a member of Isis' Board and coordinator of femLINKPACIFIC. The full text of the article may be found on the WACC website, african_news/feminine_power_restores_hope]

“Male and female have an inclination towards feminine power, but women have a better understanding to use its feminine power”, claimed Ruth Ojiambo Ochieng in her key-note speech at the WACC congress this October 7. Yet she underlined that empowerment and use of power should involve men and women for the sake of transforming their own lives and their communities to make life worth living.

Feminine power is directed by creativity and instinct and not by policies, ideologies and structures; and it does not wait “for international agreements and framework to take action. It is a power that acts instantly when injustice occurs. It is about the restoration of hope and trust, and coexistence”, said the speaker, who is executive director of Isis-Women’s International Cross Cultural Exchange (Isis-WICCE), an organization based in Uganda that promotes equality and justice in all human relationships.

In a presentation that voiced some of women survivors’ stories across the world, Ojiambo Ochieng showed how masculine power has destroyed women bodies and, in contrast, how women are using their feminine power “as tools for social change and to de-construct the masculine power, thereby contributing to the healing of the marginalised.”

She drew inspiration from poetry to strongly censure those who keep talking and talking while vicious crimes against women and children continue and go away unpunished.

“Peacemakers negotiate and deal makers mediate. They play the blame game…They talk about democracy, about ethnocracy, autocracy…male violence shrouded in words while powerless women, little girls, boy and men are abused!” — quoting the poem “Their bodies are a battle ground,” written by Mshairi, a Swahili poet.

Drawing from concrete cases in North Uganda, Liberia, Chile, Russia, Japan and Indonesia, she illustrated how women who survived violence became agents for reconciliation in their communities, demonstrating that feminist power is “a creative way of sustaining livelihood and mobilising for peaceful communities through dialogue and relationship building.”

She called upon women to use their power to radically change society, so that the power handed over to the leaders can stand for the weak and poor, and for building a genuine democratic society that brings happiness for all. The presentation ended with Congress’ delegates standing and singing the Women’s Solidarity Anthem: ‘All across the nations, all around the world, women are longing to be free…”

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