Uganda's Stella Nyanzi Puts Past Behind, Hits Campaign Trail

A year ago, feminist academic Stella Nyanzi was serving an 18-month jail term for cyber-harassment over a provocative Facebook post targeting Ugandan President, Yoweri Museveni. Today, as Museveni plans to extend his 34-year rule in the January 14, 2021 election, Nyanzi is running for parliament, drawing on her experience as an activist to rally support and highlight deep-seated gender inequalities in the country. Running on the platform of the Forum for Democratic Change, the main opposition, she has promised to champion women's needs, if elected. Nyanzi spends her time canvassing support in the busy streets, markets and informal settlements of the capital, Kampala, where she is contesting a parliamentary seat reserved for women candidates. "Women's rights are important but we can never begin to tackle them if we have a patriarch in power," Nyanzi said. Campaigning has been overshadowed by deadly clashes between police and opposition protesters since November 2020, following the arrest of prominent opposition presidential candidate Bobi Wine. As protesters blockaded streets and burnt tyres, police and soldiers fired teargas, live ammunition and used water cannons to disperse the crowds. More than 50 people have been killed in the unrest.

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