Turn Up With Intention For International Women’s Week

This Berlin event includes eye-opening feminist film screenings and open DJ sets featuring female/non binary peeps from the No Shade collective. Proceeds go to Hope Center Uganda!
via @jamiepalta

With International Women’s Day right around the corner, we think it’s an awesome idea to expand your horizons and also turn up at the same time. This meaningful and celebratory event in Berlin artfully combines both. The night will kick off with a screening of short film, Kyenvu. Written, directed, and starring Ugandan actor Kemiyondo Coutinho, the film challenges Uganda’s “Mini Skirt Law“, which goes so far as to hold women accountable in instances of sexual assault based on their attire.

The rest of the night will be nonstop positivity with grooves courtesy of host Jamie Stuart and the all-female and non-binary No Shade collective. See the event details here!

All proceeds from the event will support Hope Center Uganda.

We got some further insight from the event host and co-founder of HCU, Jamie Stuart. Catch our conversation about the way this came together, their “ladies first” policy for the DJ sets and shining a light on inconvenient truths.

Photo by Hope Center Uganda

Can you tell us a little about the event? How did it all come together?

As a co-founder of nonprofit organization Hope Center Uganda, fundraising has always been a big responsibility. HCU is working towards self-sustainability, but in the meantime, we haven’t received any major corporate sponsors or government funding. Considering we reach almost 3,000 women and youth in Northern Uganda with various education programs, there are always costs to be covered.

Working for Hope Center has always been my passion project, and DJing has always been my side project. A few years ago, I realized the best way to combine them was through throwing events and inviting other like-minded DJs and musicians to perform with me. In North Carolina, we did the events as ‘Music For Hope’, and featured live bands as well as DJs. In Switzerland, I’ve done them under the name ‘Tribe’, with line-ups of reggae, afro-house, and tribal techno DJs.

Photo by Hope Center Uganda

I was pretty intimidated to start doing parties in Berlin, and I definitely had one or two haters on the way. But since I really set my intention, found a reliable squad, and started talking to supportive venues like Sameheads, things escalated pretty smoothly. The concept for this event, Pangea II, is still a bit loose at this point, since we are in our early stages and want to figure out what the event, music, and crowd will feel like. We definitely want to provide a safe space, showcase some of the incredible artistic talent coming out of East Africa right now, and let people have fun and build some good karma at a party where borders don’t matter 🙂

Kyenvu is a powerful film about Uganda’s “Mini Skirt Law”. How did you go about choosing this film and why is it important for us all to see?

Kyenvu is a super moving piece, and at times difficult to watch. But it shares an important message that resonates with women around the world and causes people to think and ask questions. Kemiyondo Coutinho’s goal with Kyenvu is to create conversations around the film and the laws and society which it challenges, so I thought that a charity screening for women’s empowerment in Uganda is perfect opportunity to do that.

To provide some context, the “Mini Skirt Law” refers to a clause in Uganda’s 2014 “Anti-Pornography” law. The law blames pornography for sexual crimes committed against women and children, and holds women accountable in cases of sexual violence, rather than their attackers, if they were dressed “indecently.” In the wake of this bill being passed, there were increased rates of violence against women, including mob attacking and undressing of women in revealing outfits.

There will be plenty of dope female and non-binary representation as the night goes on with open DJ sets. Can you tell us a little about that? What’s the vibe?

We’re super excited to do open decks at this event! We are open to anyone hopping on for a short set, but it will be on a “ladies-first” basis: we’d like to take this one night, of one week, of the year, to prioritize inclusion of women in a space that, speaking from experience, can often be a bit of a “boys club.” I’m really excited that we’ve partnered with No Shade for this part of the night. They’re a super well-run collective representing a lot of talented female and nonbinary DJs, so I’m excited to hear their sets!

The music will be hugely varied as we have different DJs play their individual sets, but we want to keep things upbeat, groovy, and danceable. Considering its a Wednesday night, the plan is to keep things light, but this is Berlin after all– we’ll see where the night takes us 😉 I’m not sure what the other DJs have selected for the night, but I’m looking forward to playing some afro-influenced house, hip-hop, and my current favorite, gqom.

How does this event exemplify the Berlin nightlife to you, and how is it different?

For me, Berlin nightlife is generally open and inclusive and we want to exemplify those aspects of the culture with this event. Refuge is a great example of a similar Berlin-based charity party with a really inclusive vibe, fundraising for community organizations in the local area with epic lineups.

One thing that differentiates us is that we are fundraising for people on the other side of the world. Unfortunately, this sometimes makes it harder for people to understand the impact of their donations, but we think it’s really important to instill an inclusive mentality that sees past borders and encompasses the whole world, not just our own neighbourhood or country. Just because you can’t see a problem, doesn’t mean it isn’t there, and I think it’s really important that we stand in solidarity with people everywhere.

So you’re hosting this event and DJing. So cool! What do you hope to see come out of this event?

Thanks, I’m really excited and a bit nervous! I hope that we can build a vibe of solidarity and awareness between Berlin and Gulu, and everywhere in between – and there’s no better way to bring people together than through the dance floor! I also would love to give people a good first impression of Pangea II, since this is our first party, I want to be super open to critique and suggestions for future events. Lastly, we hope we’ll be successful in raising money and awareness for Hope Center Uganda’s female education and cultural empowerment projects in Gulu.

What’s on your agenda for women’s week otherwise? Any overall thoughts or impressions about the celebrations, either here in Berlin or abroad?

This week is actually super crazy for me! Wednesday afternoon, I’m speaking at the Institute for Cultural Diplomacy’s Forum for Sustainable Development in Africa. I’ll be presenting about Hope Center Uganda’s grassroots approaches to sustainable social, cultural, and economic development. I’ll be talking specifically about the benefits of our youth- and female- focused programs, and how we lead by example with a local, majority-female staff who are closely involved with the community that they serve. The presentation will be followed by an interactive Q&A between the audience, myself, and our Ugandan co-founder and Country Director, Anena Kevin Okumu.

Also this week, Hope Center Uganda will be releasing our own short film, a mini-documentary on our Uplift program. Uplift is a microfinance “bank” which gives local businesswomen small loans, financial training, and mentorship to help them grow their small businesses. The loans are paid back with interest, allowing us to reach more entrepreneurs with every round of loan distributions. We’re really excited to premiere this doc alongside the other films on Wednesday!

What’s next for you?

Phwoaah! Getting through the rest of the week at work (managing video content and artist relations for music-tech company Just Add Music) and then big phaaat day off! I just want to relax – maybe even feel bored – for a day or two before I head to SXSW next week!

Sounds like a plan. Thanks, Jamie!