If you think of a perfect tandem, you would think of one that sticks out through mutual understanding, shared values, and a common vision of goals to achieve together. But it’s also so much a question of matching personalities, displayed maybe by a common sense of humour, and simply being on the same wavelength.
When talking to Sarah and Margherita, this is exactly the impression you get! Looking for the perfect tandem partner who is as much a good listener as a supportive and patient fellow, as Sarah describes their anticipation towards the Global Match journey, they almost “magically” matched, Margherita confirms. What unifies them besides their smooth, dynamic connection is their shared passion about gender equality and feminism, a thread running through their lives.
Margherita has focused on this topic in both her studies and professional career, all the way from her native Italy to Berlin where she is currently obtaining a degree in gender studies next to running a business that supports women leadership as well as consulting companies on diversity matters.
Sarah who is based in Kampala, has gained years of experience as a social worker and freelancer, dedicating her in-the-field activities to the all-round support and empowerment of women in her community. She is also the one who provided the foundation of the tandem’s future project through an idea she had started to develop. But one by one and from the start:
Having been introduced to Global Match through their respective social or professional environment, Sarah and Margherita started the journey anticipating an exchange about the challenges women face in each other’s countries as well as to expand their knowledge of intersectional mechanisms of oppression. And by doing so, they stepped into a whole personal educational process, away from embodied structures and views towards a broader horizon, widened by the perspective of someone from the opposite part of the world. Sharing the wish to do something meaningful together being the centre of their journey, it wasn’t difficult for both to reach an agreement on a common project: In fact, given Sarah’s previous engagement in her local community she had already developed ideas to improve women’s opportunities in social participation. Margherita, who had deliberately started the session with an open and curious mindset, was very exciting to get on board someone’s project as a co-founder for the first time.
And so their joint project “Womernet Uganda” was born, which is short for Women Empowerment & Restoration Network – Uganda. The network’s main goal is to tackle and mitigate different problems of discrimination against women and hence make a change in their lives by increasing their chances of success. Concrete measures include local networking in various fields, pushing for better education to address the issue of financial dependence, and connecting women in an empowering and supporting community.
Sarah and Margherita’s vision is to have an impact on and currently valid gender stereotypes and roles in society. They want to raise more curious and confident women, strengthen their participation in the labour market as well as society in general. Shaping the future for them means to push towards different ideas of leadership and business development also.
In doing so their network’s mission applies to women in the global South and North since similar processes can be assumed in the dynamics of gender inequality, regardless of the region. Although eventual realities may differ, no country has yet achieved complete gender equality.
In order to better understand these mechanisms, one of their next steps will be to conduct a community-based research in both Berlin and Kampala. Since to create a basis from which you can start tackling a problem successfully, you need to thoroughly analyze it first -
one of the biggest learnings they have taken home from the Global Match sessions, regarding the development of a project idea.
In the light of the current challenges presented by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, another step will be the creation of a virtual hub as an attempt to avoid their project from being interrupted due to social distancing.
So while also rotating around questions regarding funding and legal requirements for the implementation of their network, they can already look back on a quite fruitful journey.
A journey that not only presents a landmark in their personal development, but also simply helped them make a new friend. When asked what they had planned for their tandem partner’s visit in their city, both agreed on introducing each other to their respective women communities to show them the local sources of support and also integrating them in meet ups to have the community itself benefit from their partner’s insights. All the while of course giving a tour of local sights and attractions - a perfect mix of leisure hotspots, spiritual encounters and natural wonders such as a 400 year old tree!
We as the Global Match team wish them continuous strength and inspiration in promoting strong, independent women leaders who can overcome the gap of gender disparities in their communities and beyond!