We Live in a Patriarchal Society – Diane Bakuraira

Diane outside in a garden
Diane Bakuraira is a human rights defender fighting for LGBTI+ rights in Uganda. Photo: Civil Rights Defenders.

Across the world, women human rights defenders continue to speak up against human rights violations, and to call for justice, peace, and equality – despite facing immense challenges, including sexual harassment and violence, smear campaigns, and defamation. Meet one of many brave women human rights defenders from Africa. 

Diane Bakuraira works with Sexual Minorities Uganda (SMUG) – an umbrella organisation that advocates for the fundamental rights of LGBT+ Ugandans. She wants to challenge the mindset that woman human rights defenders are not suited for human rights work, so that more people can join the fight.  

We asked Diane about her work as a woman human rights defender in Uganda. This is what she told us. 

Being a woman human rights defender in Uganda 

“Being a human rights defender – and a woman – in Uganda, or in this society, is quite hard because we live in a very patriarchal society that demeans women who do any kind of work supporting and defending rights of others. 

So, as a human rights defender, defending other people’s rights has been very difficult because there is an assumption that I do not have the energy, or that I do not have the skills to defend other human beings. 

I have been attacked because I openly speak about the protection of LGBTQ rights in Uganda, especially since it is a crime to be homosexual in Uganda. I have also been excluded from some meetings because I am a LGBTQ woman and a human rights defender. I have been seen not fit to attend these gatherings.”  

What would you like to say to other women human rights defenders? 

“I would like to encourage other human rights defenders, who are women, to get skilled up because there is an assumption that women are not educated enough to suit this kind of work.  

So, I encourage them to get whatever skills they would like to get, so that they can be well-equipped to join the fight!” 

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