Since arriving in Rwanda I’ve met and interviewed women from different backgrounds and age groups. During our short time spent together, I got a bit of insight into their lives, which left me feeling a range of emotions: mainly inspired and energised but always more conscious of the parallels or similarities that women experience across the continent, and parts of the globe.
Whether the teenage filmmaker in the city, going against the grain in her community by choosing a career behind the camera instead of before it, like some expected of her. Or the middle-aged farmer I came across in the rural Eastern parts of the country, who has a family of five and no husband and is shamed for it. And continues to harvest her crops and feed her family, despite the unpredictable rains and the social stigma.
While here, I’ve connected with women who exist in a place like South Africa, that in theory says to women, “you’re amazing, empower yourself and be the best”. But in practice, the realities – like a lack of resources, or being marginalised because you are born a woman – make living dreams a little or lot more challenging. Yet these women, like the ones that probably came before them and will probably come after them, have done more than just exist; hoe in hand or camera on shoulder. Their stories have left me feeling many things. – Stefanie Jason