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Gender diversity as a tool to enhance the local film industry.
Gender diversity as a tool to enhance the local film industry.
Gender diversity as a tool to enhance the local film industry.

Having been the bridge between the Ugandan film industry and the Ugandan audience for about six years now, we have observed patterns of inequality in how different genders and tribes dominate the Ugandan film industry. This doesn’t necessarily mean there is an oppressor and the oppressed; it just shows that some languages and genders have been in disadvantaged positions for a long time in the film industry due to uncontrollable conditions within the industry and the history of Uganda and Africa at large.

For example, you are more likely to find more women in acting roles than in technical or managerial roles. Similarly, you’re also more likely to find someone from the central region of Uganda in films than from any other region. This is likely because generally, women have been in disadvantaged positions in many jobs historically, and for the latter, most modern advancements have happened in the central region given its proximity to Kampala.

These inequalities are changing gradually due to education and partly due to feminism for the women's issue. However, the regional imbalance issue is still slow in its change. We can all help to see it change.

Different initiatives have been introduced to try and reduce that imbalance, like the Regional Short Film competition by the Ugandan Communication Commission. Women in Film Uganda also promises to hold training in the upcountry regions in the West and North.

But we’re not here to talk about other inequalities or how to help them; we’ll speak about that in another blog. Let’s talk about how we can use gender diversity to help women level up to men, especially in technical roles in the film industry.

In recent years, the conversation surrounding gender diversity in the film industry has gained significant traction globally. While Hollywood has been at the forefront of this discussion and it has been welcomed with mixed feelings, likely because of the way Hollywood decided to implement it, it's crucial to recognize that gender diversity is not just a Western concern; it's a global imperative, and Uganda is part of that landscape in the global creative universe.

The Ugandan film industry can benefit from gender diversity if the concept is implemented well to not only foster inclusivity but also lead to creative excellence and industry growth. Here are some of the ways:

Overcoming Challenges and Building a Supportive Ecosystem for Female Filmmakers.

It’s essential to acknowledge and address the challenges that women filmmakers may face in Uganda. Gender diversity makes it easier to spot and address most challenges of female creatives. Some of these challenges include biases and stereotypes, especially for technical roles in filmmaking, limited networking opportunities, and balancing career and family responsibilities. There are instances where we’ve wanted to host some female creatives on some occasions, but we couldn’t because of family commitments. While this can also happen to men, it’s most common in female creatives. Creating a supportive ecosystem involves implementing policies that promote gender equality, addressing unconscious biases, providing mentorship and networking avenues, and offering flexible work arrangements.

Creative Excellence.

One of the key benefits of embracing gender diversity is the infusion of diverse perspectives and storytelling. Women bring unique experiences, narratives, and visions to the table, enriching the cinematic landscape with fresh ideas and narratives that resonate with a broader audience.

This was also echoed by most women creatives like Lora Atwine at the 2023 Women in Film Symposium at the British Council. By empowering women filmmakers, the industry opens doors to a treasure trove of untold stories, cultural insights, and innovative storytelling techniques.

Empowerment of Women Filmmakers.

Empowerment is at the core of leveraging gender diversity. This involves providing women with equal opportunities, resources, and support to excel in their respective filmmaking roles. Initiatives such as training programs, mentorship opportunities like Women In Film, funding support like Opportunities are Here, and networking platforms can play a pivotal role in nurturing and empowering women filmmakers. By investing in the development and growth of female talent, the industry not only creates a more inclusive environment but also taps into a reservoir of untapped potential.

Gender diversity is not just a moral imperative but also a strategic one for sustainability and growth. Studies have consistently shown that diverse teams and perspectives lead to greater innovation, higher productivity, and increased profitability. This has been evident recently in the Ugandan film industry as we’ve seen many Ugandan female filmmakers like Elenor Nabwiso, Doreen Mirembe, Kevin Johns Nabukenya, Patience Nitumwesiga, and more create more compelling movies that not only showcase greater innovation but have also helped them earn a living and create greater opportunities to create wealth for themselves, fellow women, and other populations. By harnessing the creative energies of both men and women, the industry can develop a robust ecosystem that attracts investment, fosters talent retention, and drives economic growth.

Collaborative Partnerships.

Leveraging gender diversity requires collaborative partnerships and industry advocacy. Stakeholders across the industry, including filmmakers, production houses, distributors, government agencies, NGOs, and advocacy groups, must work together to champion gender diversity and inclusion. This includes advocating for policies that promote gender equality, supporting initiatives that empower women filmmakers, and fostering a culture of inclusivity and respect. A few shoutouts to organizations that are championing gender diversity; Women In Film Uganda, which is focusing on training and mentoring women creatives but also advocating for better working conditions for them, Sauti Plus which has created training opportunities for women under its iKon Fellowship Program initiative, Tassles Film has also helped create spaces where women can advocate but also find business solutions to their needs in the industry like the Business Summit for Women In Film and more organizations.

The good news is that most of the things we’ve written here are already happening on a small scale; we just need to scale them and make them more beneficial for women to have a great lasting impact. You can play your part.

Written by Martin Kabagambe