at the women deliver conference
The sixth Women Deliver Conference held in Kigali, Rwanda, aimed to ignite collective action, empower the feminist movement, and foster a world where gender equality and women’s rights thrive. Women Deliver Conferences convene every three years thousands of decision-makers from diverse fields, including civil society, government, the private sector, and international agencies, alongside women’s rights organizations and movements, youth-led and LGBTQIA+ organizations, and advocates representing the intersectional identities of girls, women, inter, non-binary and trans people in order to identify solutions, bolster accountability, and drive change.
As I was living in Rwanda for over a year and connected with feminist artists, fostered relationships, trust, and had many artistic exchanges. This led to the co-foundation of Elle Kwa Mziki, a transnational platform for female artists led from Rwanda with the objective to build a community of female, inter, non-binary and trans DJs who support each other, inspire others, lift each-other up and make a positive impact in their communities.
As a Young Leader of Women Deliver I had an established relationship of trust with the Women Deliver team who accepted my idea and initiative to create a participative collective performance with feminist artists based in Rwanda for the Conference attended by over 6’000 people.
As the collective Elle Kwa Mziki we organized an artist residency in Gyseni (Rwandan boarder region to Congo) in order to provide space to have a profound, collective, participatory approach creating the performance and having time to connect, create a safer space and get all the voices, topics, experiences of the different artists into a 10 minutes performance for an audience representing over 100 countries.
After creating a collective concept of what kind of message we wanted to convey with the performance, we started to go into the process of stage planning, writing song texts, producing beats, creating choreographies and collaborating with stylists and designers for the stage setting.
We created a performance who left the 6’000+ public of the Conference in feelings of hope, determination and sisterhood and we set the tone for the next years of fight and collaboration – making space, standing in solidarity finding and spreading solutions.
Since I believe in the importance of archiving feminist processes and projects we had two videographers accompanying us and showcasing the process and performance in this short documentary below.
Starting with various speeches from Angela Davis edited together, speaking about the importance of feminist scholars and organizers, understanding connections, relations, intersectionalities, conjunctures, crossings, coincidences, speaking about the world not being homogenous and the importance of racial justice and economic justice within gender justice. At the end the voice asks the question to all the 6’000 people in the room: if one woman moves forward but leaves everyone behind, is this how we achieve gender justice? The voice stops by repeatedly saying, “lifting as we climb”.
The light goes on and the performers are on the stage with wood parts in their hands, with strong key words such as “respect” “autonomy” “power” “accountability”. The key singer Kaya Byinshi starts with chanting “believe, believe” and the chorus comes in with the lead song “power, freedom, solutions, change”. A punchy beat comes from the DJ Noemi Grütter in making a cut and changing the mood to a rap performance by Angell Mutoni, speaking about her body being an entity “my body, my choice”. The poet Natasha Muziramakenga comes in, in silence with her poem about using rage and anger to create beautiful things and making us realize that we have to create happy places within ourselves where we can draw the power from – rage can become a beautiful force. At the end of the poem with the wooden parts from the beginning a table is built reminding the audience about the saying “we want to have a sit at the table”. With the use of creating a table during the performance we show that we don’t want only a sit at the table we want to build whole new table, which is created collectively and not reproducing discriminatory structures which are intrinsic to the world’s systems. The singer Delah Dube comes in with her speech about the future we collectively wish for. “collective rebirth… create an even space with clean water … silence the barriers we want to break…. we are getting stronger….”. Collectively humming in acapela the performers create a goosebump moment while the performers go in circle again manifesting the lead song “power, freedom, solutions and change”, transmitting a feeling of power in collective action, taking back what are our rights and stand for them.
Artists: Linda Kirezi, Angell Mutoni, Delah Dube, Winnie Ange, Cheryll Isheja, Natasha Muziramakenga, Kaya Byinshi, Noemi Grütter.
Designers of table and accessoires; Aline Amike, stylist and designer of outfits Elodie Fromenteau.
Videographers: Kamikazi Mpyisi and Ceke Mathenge.
About the Women Deliver Conference 2023
The Women Deliver Conference 2023 served as an important policy moment and accountability mechanism following a number of commitments that have been made around gender equality at international fora, including the Generation Equality Forum (GEF), the Global Education Summit, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), the G7 Summit, and the United Nations Climate Change Summit (COP27), among others. The Women Deliver Conference 2023 was co-created and co-led by diverse stakeholders who will play a leading role in shaping dialogue, fostering collaboration, and driving collective action before, during, and after the Conference. I was happy to be in the Youth Planning Committee with young people from different contexts, preparing and shaping over a year the Women Deliver Conference.