Category Archives: WOMEN’S EQUALITY

Young African Feminists Demand Action From World Leaders Ahead of UN Women Generation Equality Forum in Paris

. WOMEN’S EQUALITY .

A press release from the Nala Feminist Collective (Nalafem)

Twenty six years after the unanimous adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action  as a global agenda for women’s empowerment and gender equality by world leaders including Hilary Rodham Clinton, H.E. Joyce Banda, H.E. Ruth Cardosa and H.E Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, the Nala Feminist Collective (Nalafem); a  Pan African group of 17 young feminists with a mission to foster and mobilize young women from Africa and the diaspora, advocate for Africa Young Women B+25 Manifesto; a groundbreaking political document that sets out ten critical issues of concern for young African women. The manifesto calls on world leaders to scale up action for progressive gender inclusion and will be presented at the upcoming Generation Equality Forum in Paris.

Ahead of the Generation Equality Forum, the Nala Feminist Collective, chaired by Aya Chebbi, will be officially launched at a virtual press conference on Wednesday, June 23rd, 2021 at 2:00PM GMT. The press conference will introduce the 17 young women from across Africa who make up the Nala Council, as well as the outcome of the mobilization achieved for the Africa Young Women B+25 Manifesto, to the public.

Nala Feminist Collective will also be hosting a high-level side event during the GEF Paris Forum  on July 1st, 2021 at 9:20 AM GMT called the “Africa Young Women United for the Decade of Action”. Speakers at this event include  H.E. Filsan Abdulahi; Minister of Women, Children and Youth of the Federal Republic of Ethiopia, Hon. Emma Theophelus; Deputy Minister of Communication, Information and Technology of the Republic of Namibia and Vanessa Nakate; Climate Justice Advocate from Uganda.

According to Aya Chebbi, Chair of the Nala Council, “The manifesto demands progress, not promises, for gender equality. Enough is enough, we are not waiting 108 more years to receive what should already be ours. We will seize the momentum to leave our mark at the Paris Forum in two weeks’ time because generation equality cannot afford to move forward without Africa.”

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Questions for this article

Can the women of Africa lead the continent to peace?

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Aya Chebbi is the chair of the Nala Council who served as the first ever African Union (AU) Special Envoy on Youth and is the youngest diplomat at the Africa Union Commission Chairperson’s Cabinet. In an attempt to bring Young African Women and African Women’s issues closer to the global forum, Aya, in her capacity as AU Special Envoy on Youth, convened over 1,500 young people from across 44 African countries in five regional Barazas  and a Global Intergenerational Dialogue which culminated in the Africa Young Women Beijing+25 Manifesto.

The Manifesto has received groundswell and political support with over 10,000 signatures from young people across Africa and beyond, as well as leaders such as H.E. Mme Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Women Executive Director who stated that “the Africa Young Women Beijing+25 Manifesto is the part of the actions that we are going to take in Generation Equality as we need African youth energy and dynamism”, H.E. Mme Bineta Diop; the AU Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security, and Amb. Delphine O; Ambassador-at-large and Secretary General for the Generation Equality Forum (Beijing+25), who said “I am impressed by the number of the young women who have participated from 44 Countries, and by the demands. I am glad to see that the demands overlap and contribute to the Action coalitions of Gender Based Violence, the Economic Justice and Rights, and Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights”.

This is an opportunity for young women to articulate their concerns and secure a clear and unreserved commitment by the Generation Equality Forum and Action Coalitions Leadership. The Generation Equality Forum is convened by UN Women and will be held in Paris from June 30 to July 2, 2021  to drive urgent action and accountability for gender equality. 

Show support for the progress of young Africa women towards equality by signing the Africa Young Women Beijing+25 Manifesto here

Register to attend the press conference here

And learn more about the Nala Council Members here.

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About Nala Feminist Collective

Nala Feminist Collective aka Nala is a Pan-African group of 17 feminists with a mission to foster, enable and mobilize young women from Africa and Diaspora, while bridging the gap between policy and implementation, intergovernmental and grassroots, as well as generational spaces. Nala is guided by the Africa Young Women Beijing+25 Manifesto targeting the political, digital and offline spaces, and works in the areas of Advocacy, Research and Fellowships. Learn more about NalaFem by visiting www.nalafem.org  

Mali National Restitution Conference: Women propose possible solutions

. WOMEN’S EQUALITY .

An article from Mali Web

The national restitution conference “Palabre trees of Timbuktu and Gao” was held on June 15 in the banquet hall of the Bamako International Conference Center in the presence of eminent personalities like the former Prime Minister Modibo Sidibé. The participants made several recommendations such as the redeployment of the army in all regions of the North, breaking with the feeling of abandonment of the population of the North, the re-reading of the Algiers accord and national reconciliation. They were more than a hundred women from the north, some of whom are on their first trip to the capital.


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The National Restitution conference is an initiative of the Africa, Caribbean, Europe Council Mali Cabinet (ACE Conseil-Mali) with the technical and financial support of the United Nations Multidimensional Integrated Mission for the Stabilization of Mali (MINUSMA). It is the pilot phase of ‘a project called “Palabre trees when the women of Mali take the floor”.

The concept “Arbres à Palabre” is an original idea based on a citizen and participatory action research approach by the women of Mali. The initiative, which now lays the groundwork for a return to lasting peace and cohesion, has a dual objective:

– to restore and make available to all participants the diagnosis of the Mali situation by women in the regions;

– and to give a voice to the representatives of women from the municipalities for the implementation of structuring projects for local community development.

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(Click here for the original French version)

Questions for this article

Can the women of Africa lead the continent to peace?

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Based on the function of social mediation of African palabre, the experimental device “Palabre Trees” aims to promote:

– the promotion of women’s political participation and the implementation of the National Action Plan of the Resolution 1325 (2000) and related from the United Nations Security Council on Women, Peace and Security;

– the effective participation of Malians in the process of prevention, mediation, conflict resolution, consolidation and promotion of the culture of peace at the national, regional and local level

– and finally support for the empowerment of women and their full participation to the management of the city as a citizen.

The initiative places women at the heart of crisis exit strategies

According to Mrs. Coumba Traoré, Director of ACE Conseil Mali, initiator of this National Restitution conference, this “Palabres trees” project is an action-research in favor of the effective participation of Malian women in the process of prevention, mediation, settlement of conflicts, consolidation and promotion of a culture of peace at national, regional and local level.

“Our country is sick and there are simple solutions today for the country to heal these wounds. We must go out to meet women, give them a voice so that they can make concrete proposals for exiting the crisis, “said Ms. Coumba Traoré.

For the head of the Gender Unit of the gender division of MINUSMA, Ms. Catherine Andela, the presence of all these women from various backgrounds symbolizes their dedication to the cause of the homeland and especially their commitment to peace and stability, pledge of development. “The positioning of women must first start from the base to influence the electoral process and the palaver tree is a formidable initiative which today participates in the consolidation of peace and living together”, she said. highlighted.

Ms. Diarra Fatoumata Touré, representative of the Minister of State Refoundation, in charge of relations with institutions, fully appreciated this initiative. She said “This initiative by ACE Conseil Mali and its partners places women at the heart of the various crisis exit strategies. Nowadays, it helps to pave the way for a way out of the crisis towards lasting peace.”

Ms. Bintou Djitteye is one of the participants at this conference. She came from Bourem to preach the word of peace. She thanked the director of ACE Conseil Mali for this initiative which allows women to talk about their concerns in the search for peace. She testifies that her children are Arabs even though she is of the Bambara ethnicity. The problem in the north, Ms. Bintou Djitteye explained, is not ethnic but rather economic with a lack of basic social services. According to her, there is a lack of water and above all a lack of support for local initiatives.

The participants made several recommendations for the redeployment of the army in all regions

Breizh, France: Women of Peace

. . WOMEN’S EQUALITY . .

An article by Geneviève Roy for Chroniques du 8 mars 2021 de Breizh Femmes

Sarah is a young peace activist from Rennes. To conclude the evening programmed in video a few days ago by the Mouvement de la Paix , she described the citizen actions carried out by her generation as less collective than those of their elders. “We try to seek peace from day to day through dialogue, exchanges, travel. Our outlook is different because for most of us we have not known a war first hand.” Impressed by the words of the various women who testified from one end of the planet to the other, she deplored the lack of commitment of young people “caught up in everyday life” in a society “where everything goes fast”.


These women were not lacking in enthusiasm when recounting their commitments for peace. However, “women’s work for peace is neither visible nor valued,” regretted Croatian journalist Shura Dumanic, relating the loneliness of activists in her country who do not receive any support from the state and can only count on NGOs or European religious associations.

“If we don’t start with the children, we will never guarantee the existence of peace or equality”

From Nabila the Palestinian to Birgitta the German via Mina in Algeria or Fatema in Morocco, all their voices praised the strength of women in this difficult fight for peace.
“When civil society acts effectively to promote the goals of peace” – recalled Birgitta Meier from Erlangen – “women are always in the forefront”. And it is for this reason that Mouvement de la Paix had chosen this year again to highlight them on the occasion of the month of March devoted in Rennes to women’s rights.

For many of them, building peace requires education. In Gaza, Nabila Kilani, English teacher and founder of an educational and cultural center, says: “If we don’t start with children, we will never guarantee the existence of peace or equality.” And she seems to have started well. She initiated her project in 2009 with two children and now welcomes 120! “We are reopening the minds of children to give them hope for a better future for themselves and for all of Palestine”.

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(Click here for the original article in French.)

Questions related to this article:

Do women have a special role to play in the peace movement?

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For her part, the Japanese Miho Shimma fights relentlessly against nuclear weapons, choosing among other things, to address children. “One day I saw French children playing atomic warfare,” she says; that’s how her book l’Enfant Bonheur was born, now published in French but also translated into English, Italian, German and even an Indian language.

“Women are the first victims of global warming in many countries”

Women who work for peace also do so for more equality. In Germany, Birgitta Meier testifies, the peace movements work in convergence with the feminist movements and also the environmental movements. “We cannot do peace education without showing the role that women play in advancing these ideas, but without also approaching environmental movements since women are the first victims of global warming in many areas countries”.

Feminism and the environment was also discussed by Mina Cheballah who is leading a project in Algeria with feminist activists working with women farmers. “The culmination of the project is the safeguarding of ancestral seeds by the creation of a community seed bank in order to allow farmers to no longer depend on the big firms which force them to buy seeds every year.”

International firms also indicted by Miho Shimma in the name of her commitments to the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki but also to the Bikini Atoll where she is from and which still bears the after-effects of the American nuclear tests of the 1970s. “When I disseminate information on atomic bombs, I am not only talking about the victims of nuclear weapons, I am also talking about the victims of nuclear tests.”

It’s the same concern for Tran to Nga. “I was under the bombardments, I buried comrades with my own hands.” 80 years old, she does not stop fighting against Agent Orange, responsible in Vietnam for many deaths and malformations still present on the site. fourth generation of population. “I started out on my own”, she says, referring to the too long trial that has occupied her for ten years – “but today I have thousands and thousands of friends around me all over the world, and my fight will continue because Agent Orange is the ancestor of pesticides and other toxic products which continue to poison our Earth.”

These determined women, despite the magnitude of the task, retain their enthusiasm in their struggle for peace. And which is perfectly illustrated by the conclusion of young Sarah: “for me, peace today is promoting social ties because it is the ignorance of other cultures which leads if not to war at least to fractures between human beings. . Unfortunately, I feel that this sense of combat is lost a bit with my generation when we could bring our skills to associations.” An observation which is perhaps already the beginning of a commitment.

Senegal: “Ethnic remarks”: the Platform of Women for Peace in Casamance calls for “serenity”

. WOMEN’S EQUALITY .

An article from Press Afrik

The members of the Platform of Women for Peace in Casamance (PFPC), meeting on March 25, 2021, deplore the ethnic comments made by some people in the country. According to them, “the social climate in Senegal is increasingly harmful because of these words and tendencies with connotations” dangerous and never known in the history of our Nation. The members of this platform call for serenity and social stability in the country.

“Our nation is characterized by a multiethnicity which, instead of being a source of division, is a richness and a pledge of a symbiosis, a harmony, a mutual respect. The joking cousin is the real social cement that unites the Serer to Pulaar, Diatta Ndiaye to Diop, the game of fraternal alliances which banishes any hostility between Diola and Serer. Respect for the other in his difference are in the process of being dangerously put to the test, ”said the members of the Platform of Women for Peace in Casamance in a statement made public.

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(Click here for the original French version)

Questions for this article

Can the women of Africa lead the continent to peace?

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They add: “These pillars of social stability, woven for millennia between ethnic groups, have always reduced tensions and possible crises are automatically and socially attenuated. Our nation has always known how to overcome its crises together as one people, with purpose and faith ”.

According to members of the platform, for some time now, comments that weaken these pillars have been made from north to south of the country. “A disrespectful speech of the other, which discredits and minimizes his neighbor because of his ethnicity. And even worse, we are witnessing a pitched battle between identity associations which once owed each other protection and mutual respect,” they added.

Continuing, the members of the PFPC express their deep dismay at the multiplication of divisive speeches and conflicting ethno-geographic actions recorded in recent days in the press and by certain politicians. According to them, this kind of speech and behavior is a source of hatred, seriously endangering human security, peace and national unity.

The PFPC condemns the resurgence of socio-ethnic and socio-political tendencies. They urge the State of Senegal and all voice carriers to curb these ethno-psychological tendencies by putting in place functional mechanisms for strengthening social dialogue and good practices in terms of a culture of peace, of socio-cultural and politico-religious coexistence.

The members of the Platform of Women for Peace in Casamance call on political actors, opinion leaders and members of the press to make and disseminate positive, constructive and peaceful speeches.

Generation Equality Forum: Mexico City, 29-31 March 2021

. WOMEN’S EQUALITY .

An announcement from Foro Generacion Igualdad

The Generation Equality Forum will kick off in Mexico City 29-31 March 2021, hosted by the Government of Mexico.

With civil society at its core, the Generation Equality Forum in Mexico will reinforce the power and voice of feminist movements and youth and the commitment and action of different stake holders, including high level representatives from Member States, the private sector, and international organizations.

By analyzing progress and gaps since the 1995 Beijing Women’s conference, including the heightened urgency posed by the COVID crisis, the event will make the case for strengthened intergenerational and transformative feminist leadership and accelerated action on gender equality.

As the kick-off for the Generation Equality Forum journey, the event will:

– Launch the work of the Action Coalitions, and their calls for action for urgent implementation and investment

– Develop a multilateral feminist agenda to sharpen the Generation Equality Forum vision towards Paris

– Integrate the formation of a multilateral alliance of countries to promote the gender equality agenda

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(Click here for a Spanish version.)

Questions for this article

Does the UN advance equality for women?

Prospects for progress in women’s equality, what are the short and long term prospects?

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The event will include a series of dialogues that will address the structural and systemic obstacles that prevent the achievement of gender equality and fulfillment of the human rights of women and girls.

This event presents a historic opportunity to promote the full implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action, and is aligned with the feminist foreign policy promoted by the Government of Mexico.

The Generation Equality Forum is a civil society–centred, global gathering for gender equality, convened by UN Women and co-hosted by the governments of Mexico and France. Kicking off in Mexico City, Mexico, on 29–31 March 2021, and culminating in Paris, France, in June 2021, this landmark effort will bring together governments, corporations and changemakers from around the world to define and announce ambitious investments and policies. The Forum will propel concrete, ambitious, and transformative commitments for gender equality.

Registration for the Generation Equality Forum in Mexico City is now open at this link, and an FAQ about the event is available here.

The Forum responds to the fact that—despite the commitments made in Beijing in 1995 to take strategic, bold action on gender equality—progress and implementation has been slow. Not a single country today can claim to have achieved gender equality. With women’s rights at risk of rolling back further as a result of the COVID-19 crisis—due to heightened poverty and risks of gender-based violence—the Forum is a rallying point to finally achieve the human rights of all women and girls.

The Generation Equality Forum will also fuel a powerful and enduring coalition for gender equality, bringing together governments, activists, corporations, feminist organizations, youth and allies to achieve transformative change.

To learn more about the Forum in Mexico, the Action Coalitions and to stay up-to-date on all the latest developments, visit the Generation Equality Forum website.

Africa: Change Will Come from Us: A Conversation with Quitéria Guirengane

. WOMEN’S EQUALITY .

An article by Alcinda Honwana from African Arguments (reprinted according to terms of Creative Commons License)

Quitéria Guirengane is a Mozambican female activist and the President of the Mozambican Young Women Leaders’ Network. Trained in social and organizational psychology, Quitéria is today one of the most prominent female activists in the country. I first met Quitéria in 2011 in Maputo, when I interviewed her during the research for my book The Time of Youth. I was very impressed by her energy and commitment as well as by the clarity with which she articulated the issues that mattered to her and her organization. I have since been following her work, and I was delighted at the opportunity to talk to her again. Below are some of the highlights of our conversation.


Quitéria Guirengane, Mozambican female activist and the President of the Mozambican Young Women Leaders’ Network

Alcinda Honwana (AH): Quitéria, it is a pleasure to talk to you again, albeit virtually. Thank you so much for making yourself available for this conversation. You are currently one of the most prominent young Mozambican female activists, and in the past 15 years you have been involved in various organizations, campaigns and projects. Could you talk about how you started your life as an activist, and what moves you to do what you do?

Quitéria Guirengane (QG): I became an activist in high school, when I entered a literary competition to research and write an essay about the life story of a liberation struggle hero – Francisco Manyanga. I won the competition, but I quickly realized that history was a construction, and that there are different versions of history; the official version taught to us at school was not always the ‘real’ one. This led me to question things in a way that I did not do before. At university, in 2007, I joined the Students’ Association and became the head of academic affairs, fighting for more academic support for students. In 2008, I decided to run for president of the Students’ Association, but I was taken out of the ballot because I was a second-year student, and someone higher up had decided that only third year and fourth year students were allowed to run for President. I was very disappointed, and I made clear all our community became aware of this discriminatory rule. I left the Students’ Association and was later elected to be a student representative in the University Council. Around that time, I joined an initiative outside the university. And with a group of young people sharing the same concerns as me, we founded the Parlamento Juvenil (Youth Parliament – YP) – a movement through which we created space to exercise our active citizenship. I became the head of the Gender and Sexual Reproductive Health Commission, then the coordinator of the press and communications department, and later head of the programmes of the entire organization. It is with the YP that I really blossomed as an activist: I led several successful campaigns, from monitoring elections and empowering young people to vote, to organizing leadership training programmes for youth, protests marches, and promoting political dialogues across various groups.

AH: What lessons did you learn from your involvement in all these initiatives?

QG: During this journey, I coordinated one of the largest Electoral Observation programmes of the time, engaging more than 2000 young volunteers; and in 2016 we (the YP) also established the Political Dialogue for Peace Panel, a very successful initiative which made me very proud of the work we were doing. During those years, I also came to realize that as activists we cannot just focus on the young people that join formal organizations. Many young people are concerned about politics and their futures but do not join formal bodies as some civic associations and civil society organizations may constrain their voices, willingly or unwillingly, often due to pressure for getting access to support from government institutions or from international donors. Thus, the importance of creating independent and loose networks that can mobilize a wide and diverse group of young people; it is equally important, I believe, to support the initiatives by young people from the most remote and deprived areas, in districts and localities across the country.

AH: Exactly on that point, how did you expand your work to account for the experiences of a wider and more diverse group of young Mozambicans?

QG: We had to rethink the way we were working and who we were working for. There are many youth groups and associations, formal and informal, fighting for what they believe is a better and fair society. For me, it was important to establish closer links with those other groups or individuals, especially at district level. This led me to create the Young Women Leaders’ Network, an informal network that brings together young women from different backgrounds from all over the country; we are currently building a database of young female leaders from different fields – activists, artists, community organizers, entrepreneurs, scholars, athletes and the like. Currently I am also a Commentator on Política e Liderança no Feminino, a national television show that discusses political issues of the day. With other activists we established in 2019 Nova Democracia (New Democracy – ND), a political movement of citizens aimed to promote the direct involvement of young people in politics.

The Mozambican parliament today only has about 17 percent of parliamentarians under the age of 35, which is a travesty in a country with almost 70 percent of its population under 30. So, in 2019 the ND presented a list of candidates for parliamentary elections. I was the electoral representative of ND, and in that capacity, I represented our movement in all processes and discussions about the electoral process organized by the National Electoral Commission and other official bodies. I was the first young female electoral representative in any electoral process in Mozambique. The 2019 electoral process, and the previous ones, were marked by serious irregularities, ranging from voter fraud to intimidation of candidates and voters; members of ND who were accredited to monitor the voting process in Chokwé, Gaza province, were unjustly detained by the authorities for more than a month. This was not a fair process; in the end, ND did not win any parliamentary seats. Even though we were extremely disappointed with the results, this election was a good learning experience. It motivated us to keep fighting and continue the groundwork to elect young parliamentarians in the next elections.

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Question for this article

Can the women of Africa lead the continent to peace?

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AH: How does the landscape of youth political activism in Mozambique look today? What are the main challenges and how are young activists responding to these challenges?

QG: In Mozambique young activists face many challenges. The youth constitute the majority, but they represent a minority in the decision-making bodies, and that’s why we keep fighting to change this situation. It will not be easy; it will take time and we need to be able to mobilize a critical mass, build broader coalitions in order to be able to effect change. There is a lot of great work being done by young people in the districts across the country against all odds. The repression of independent and critical voices by the authorities demoralizes many young people from getting involved. For example, in April 2020 Ibraimo Mbaruco, a young journalist from the district of Palma, in Cabo Delgado province, disappeared without trace after being detained by security forces. Mbaruco reported regularly on the human rights abuses going on in the war in Cabo Delgado, including violations by the government forces. Also, during the 2019 elections, the human rights activist Anastácio Matavel was assassinated by members of the government special forces. Young female activists are often victims of defamation, harassment and even rape. We know that the Mozambican youth is restless; in 2008 and 2010 there were massive protests against the government that brought the capital to a standstill. Young people were protesting lack of employment, the high cost of living and lack of political voice. Many subsequent protests have been squashed by the authorities through a mandatory registration of SIM cards to control cellular phones and SMS communications. The environment is toxic, and activists have to contend, on the one hand, with the persecution by the government, and on the other hand, they have to fight the conditionalities that are often attached to the resources offered by international donors interested to push certain political agendas. But we keep going, we keep mobilizing, we keep putting forward our views on radio and television debates and other fora.

AH: Your activism transcends Mozambique’s national boundaries. Could you share some of those experiences and the ways in which they have contributed to shape your own trajectory and interests?

QG: Yes, in 2010 I had a chance to give a keynote speech at the US State Department in Washington DC at the opening of the first African Young Leaders Forum with President Barack Obama. My speech was very critical and was well received by the audience. I was interviewed by Voice of America and my speech was also broadcast in Mozambique, sparking a debate about some of the key issues I mentioned. While some viewed my keynote as ‘washing our dirty laundry abroad’, many agreed with me that it was important to critically address the condition and the predicament facing young people in Africa today. I was very critical of the government, and the Mozambican authorities did not like it. In 2011, I represented Mozambican young women at the meeting of young African women leaders with Michelle Obama held in Johannesburg. Amongst others, I also participated in the Stockholm Internet Forum of 2013, which focused on freedom of expression, human rights and cyber security.

I am a member of various Pan-African networks and organizations such as: the Pan-African Youth Forum for the Promotion of a Culture of Peace in Africa; the Southern Africa Platform for Young Women Leaders; the African Network for the Right to Protest; and the Solidarity Network for Political Prisoners in Africa; and the Global Network of Young Women Leaders. Through these various continental and international networks, I have learned that well-structured continental-wide action can be very effective, when it engages the right players, defends coherent messages, values community knowledge, and stands-up for fair causes. This was evident in 2015 when we brought our voices together to raise awareness about the wrongful imprisonment of 17 young Angolan political activists, the ‘Revus’ (members of the Angolan Revolutionary Movement). Our campaign generated awareness about the case, exposed the regime’s abuses and, ultimately, resulted in a fair trial and the liberation of the 17 activists. We keep close links with our counterparts in other African countries, such as Angola, DRC, Tunisia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe. Just recently I had discussions with Floribert Anzuluni from Filimbi (Whistle) Movement in the DRC who also suggested I should link up with Afrikki Mwinda (a Pan-African youth movement. That brings together African activists, including those in the diaspora) through Sylvain Saluseke from Lucha (Lute pour le Changement – Fight for Change) its current leader.

AH: How can young African activists come together and address issues of systemic change? What are your views about the current youth social movements in Africa and their transformative capacity?

QG: I have a lot of hope for our generation. I think it is unjust to say that young people are apathetic and disconnected from the social and political realities in their countries. In the 1960s, during the fight against colonialism, not all young people were in the trenches fighting the oppressor, but some did, and those who did not were aware of the injustices and played their roles even if often in discreet ways. Similarly, today we cannot expect that all young people will be actively involved in the struggle. But the young activists who are engaged, they give everything: many suffer intimidation, persecution, imprisonment and sometimes death. Of course, youth constitutes a heterogeneous group, and young people are engaging in their own ways, but they are acutely aware of their marginalization and lack of opportunities. While the older generation had one clear enemy, the colonial oppressor, the challenges confronting our generations are double: on the one hand, we need to tackle our own corrupt and inefficient governments, and on the other, we have to deal with an international system which is unjust, privileges big capital and is skewed in favour of the wealthy and powerful.

Even though some progressive international forces sometimes support our movements, they often do not put enough pressure on governments, especially when they have political and economic interests. For example, it is a disgrace what is happening to Bobi Wine in Uganda, but the international community is just watching and doing very little while Museveni cracks down on dissident political voices. Also, when the 18 young activists from ND were jailed during the elections here in 2019, only a few international organizations supported us. Here in Mozambique, big capital is aligned with the government because of their interest in gas, the ruby mines, coal and other resources. Even when it is clear that elections are not free and fair, the big multinational corporations are the first to congratulate those responsible for rigging the elections.

AH: In these circumstances, how do you see the future of African youth movements?

QG: Despite the lack of support, young Africans continue to fight. Bobi Wine continues to fight; the Angolan activists, even after spending months in prison, remain active, as do the Mozambican activists who are routinely intimidated and attacked by the authorities. I have a lot of hope in our Pan-African networks such as Afrikiki Mwinda and others. Change will come from within, from us. The revolution will have to be done by the African activists, by ourselves, without waiting for the support of the international community, and beyond our corrupt national institutions. All this time, we have been playing by the rules, constituting ourselves in formal organizations, getting all the permissions to protest peacefully, running for elections and putting across our ideas; but the rules of the game, as established, are fundamentally flawed and unjust. Every time we played by their rules, we have been duped, side-lined, maimed and sometimes killed. We are getting tired and we are saying enough! The world should not be surprised if one day young people resolve to take power by force, with violence.

Black-clad women rally in Australia to demand gender violence justice

. . WOMEN’S EQUALITY . .

An article by Colin Packham and Melanie Burton in Reuters (reprinted by permission)

Tens of thousands of women gathered outside Australia’s parliament and across the country on Monday, calling for gender equality and justice for victims of sexual assault.



Click on image to watch the video

The March 4 Justice rallies were spurred by a recent wave of allegations of sexual abuse, discrimination and misconduct in some of Australia’s highest political offices.

Women wore black to signal “strength and mourning” and chanted “We will not be silenced”. Protestors in Melbourne carried a metres-long white banner bearing the names of women killed in Australia from gendered violence since 2008, while those outside Parliament House in Canberra prepared to deliver two petitions demanding change.

While leaders of the major opposition political parties came out to join the crowds in Canberra, a delegation of organisers rejected an invitation to meet with Prime Minister Scott Morrison in private.

“We’ve come to his front garden,” Janine Hendry, one of the organisers, told Reuters. “We are 200 metres from his office and it’s not appropriate for us to meet behind closed doors especially when we are talking about sexual assault which does happen behind closed doors.”

Recently reported scandals include a rape allegation against Attorney-General Christian Porter, who has strongly denied the alleged 1988 assault.

Porter lodged defamation proceedings in Australia’s Federal Court on Monday against the Australian Broadcasting Corp over a news article on the alleged rape. The ABC did not immediately respond to the legal action.

A former senior political adviser for Morrison’s Liberal Party has also been accused by several women of rape or sexual assault. The man has not been named, nor commented publicly on the allegations.

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Questions for this article

Protecting women and girls against violence, Is progress being made?

Prospects for progress in women’s equality, what are the short and long term prospects?

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The public anger over the government’s handling of the alleged incidents mirrors the sentiment on display at protests in London over the weekend following the killing of 33-year-old Sarah Everard, who disappeared while walking home at night-time.

Morrison had been enjoying strong public approval ratings, chiefly for his handling of the coronavirus pandemic, but a Newspoll conducted for The Australian newspaper published on Sunday showed the centre-left Labor party has pulled ahead of Morrison’s Liberal-led coalition on a two-party preferred basis.

Morrison said Australia had made big strides toward gender equality over the years, though he acknowledged the job was “far from done” and he shared the concerns of the protestors.

However, he raised some hackles by expressing pride in the right to peaceful protest: “Not far from here, such marches, even now, are being met with bullets, but not in this country.”

Among the gatherings, protestors in the seaside town of Torquay lined up on the beach to form the word “justice”.

“The start of the solution is quite simple – making noise,” Grace Tame, a sexual assault survivor and advocate who was named Australian of the Year, told the crowd in Tasmania.

CORRIDORS OF POWER

The politically charged assault allegations are expected to dominate parliamentary proceedings in coming days. Both Porter and Defence Minister Linda Reynolds – who has been criticised for failing to report an alleged rape of one of her former staff members by another – are both on sick leave.

Reynolds on Friday apologised “unreservedly” and reached a financial settlement with her former staff member Brittany Higgins over the latter’s allegation of rape by the unnamed former Liberal employee in Parliament House. Reynolds had called Higgins a “lying cow” in front of staff, a comment she said referred to comments by Higgins about her treatment after the alleged assault, not the attack itself.

Higgins told the gathering in Canberra she hoped to bring about changes to workplace culture to “ensure the next generation of women can benefit from a safer and more equitable Australia.”

Deirdre Heitmeyer, 68, said she drove for more than six hours to attend the protest.

“I can’t believe we have to still do this,” she told Reuters. “We were out in the 1970s calling for equality and we are still here.”

Belarus: Women at the forefront of human rights struggle

. . HUMAN RIGHTS . .

An article from Amnesty International

Women who have played prominent roles in the protests sweeping Belarus are subject to reprisals and threats, Amnesty International said today. In a new publication, the organization highlights the important role women activists have played in the protests after widely contested presidential elections and reveals state reprisals against them.


Women activists told Amnesty International that they had been accused of being “bad mothers” and “bad wives”, and that the authorities had threatened to take their children away from them. They have also faced ill-treatment in detention, and prison sentences resulting from unfounded criminal prosecutions.

“Svyatlana Tshikhanouskaya, a presidential contender forced into exile, Maryia Kalesnikava, her chief of staff thrown into prison, Marfa Rabkova, a jailed human rights defender, and journalists Katsyaryna Bakhvalava and Darya Chultsova, both imprisoned for two years for livestreaming of a protest action – these are some of the many women whose names have become synonymous with the struggle for freedom and human rights in Belarus,” said Aisha Jung, Amnesty International’s Senior Campaigner on Belarus. 

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Click here for an article on this subject in French)

Questions related to this article:

How effective are mass protest marches?

Do women have a special role to play in the peace movement?

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“In a deeply patriarchal society with endemic domestic violence, women in Belarus have risked everything to stand up for their beliefs. The Belarusian authorities have retaliated with measures intended to target women activists, and their organizations and families.”

Yuliya Mitskevich, a feminist activist who runs a gender-awareness organization called Aktyunym Byts Faina (It’s Great to be Active), and who is a member of a sub-group of the opposition Coordination Council, Femgruppa, was arrested on Friday 20 October 2020 outside the offices of her organization.

Yuliya was officially charged with “participation in an illegal gathering,” but she told Amnesty she believed she is being persecuted for her work on gender equality. The police officers who arrested Yuliya, and criminal investigators who interrogated her, asked her to sign a statement saying that she had taken part in illegal actions in her organizational role. 

“They offered me incentives and threatened me too. The first time they asked about Femgruppa, and about the women’s marches and finances, but the second time they were interested in my organization,” Yuliya told Amnesty International. 

“We call for solidarity with the brave women of Belarus in their fight for freedom and human rights. In their struggle, they are challenging patriarchal attitudes and a repressive government intent on suppressing human rights and stifling the change and progress that Belarusians are calling for,” said Aisha Jung. 

Background 

Amnesty International’s   global solidarity campaign was launched on 27 January 2021, with the publication of a  report  revealing how the Belarusian authorities have weaponized the justice system to punish survivors of torture rather than perpetrators. The organization produces regular publications that highlight how different sectors of Belarusian society are being targeted. Belarus is currently experiencing the most egregious clampdown on human rights in its post-independence history. Amnesty International activists around the world will participate in various actions to demonstrate their solidarity with peaceful protesters in Belarus. 

Spain: First-person testimonies: this is how we fight for gender equality by activism and participation

. . WOMEN’S EQUALITY . .

An article from Toledo Diario (translation by CPNN)

The fight for gender equality is global and transversal. Mutual support, collaboration networks and alliances are essential for the achievement of rights that in some countries have advanced more than in others. For all this, activism and social participation have become a powerful tool that Development NGOs now want to show as an example of these global actions.


Image by Antonio Cansino from Pixabay

The multimedia project “Weaving Alliances for Gender Equality” has as its objective to collect, both online and in a printed publication, about fifteen projects around the world. It has been prepared by the Coordinator of NGOs in Castilla-La Mancha in collaboration with groups from various countries and with the support of the Women’s Institute of this autonomous community. And the result is dozens of testimonies to learn, raise awareness and fight for this International Women’s Day, and every day of the year.

This project is part of the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that constitute the roadmap to achieve sustainable development where “no one is left behind”, especially SDG 5, which seeks to achieve equality between gender and empower all women and girls by 2030.

The Coordinator highlights that in a context of global inequality, the alliances between local and regional governments, NGDOs, local counterparts, unions, universities and citizens, are needed to promote the principles of the 2030 Agenda and enhance its most transformative elements. “These alliances reinforce the capacities of governments, civil organizations and citizens that defend human rights; they sensitize and mobilize the commitment and involvement of citizens towards sustainable development and promote effective actions to combat inequalities ”.

(Click here for the original article in Spanish.)

Questions related to this article:

Do women have a special role to play in the peace movement?

Prospects for progress in women’s equality, what are the short and long term prospects?

The proof is this multimedia project, where we can hear from its protagonists first-hand.

One of them is Elena Emperatriz Santiso, participant in the SOLMAN and ADICOMAR equality project for the empowerment of women, to improve their economic independence and know their rights. Various trainings adapted to the context were designed to empower women, to improve economic independence and to know their rights. These training in dressmaking, beauty or hairdressing, accompanied by training in rights, not only allowed for greater economic independence, but women began to recognize that they had rights and, if they were violated, there were legal mechanisms to report them. Click here for her testimony in Spanish

Another testimony is that of the Alianza de Mujeres en el Corredor del Cribe Project, in which SodePaz participates, and which develops within the framework of an agreement between non-governmental organizations of the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Cuba to address issues related to the social and solidarity economy from an environmental perspective. It incorporates the cultural and gender dimension, and everything that implies sustainable development in that region. Olita Jean is a participant in this initiative in Haiti, one of the poorest countries in the world. Here is her testimony in Spanish.

Oxfam Intermón develops the “Together We Victory” initiative to support Colombian women who fight for the protection of civil rights and the environment. In this context, women defenders, rural women, involved in a reality of inequality, risk and abuse in the exploitation of natural resources of their land, are united in the Platform for Political Advocacy of Rural Women of Colombia. They can obtain support from Oxfam Intermón to raise their voice and increase the visibility of their actions and the dangers they face. Thanks to this campaign, a joint circular has been signed for the first time between the different control entities of the Government of Colombia to guarantee the rights of rural women. In it, public servants are urged to comply with the regulations that are already in place and whose non-compliance will generate disciplinary actions. Laura Victoria Gómez Correa, from the Right to Equality Program in Colombia, speaks. Here is her testimony in Spanish.

Nurses for the World is the protagonist of another of the initiatives of these alliances. It is about their work in the fight and prevention of human trafficking for sexual exploitation in Bolivia. In the last workshop “It’s about you”, held within the framework of the II International Forum “Toledo, Culture of Peace”, the proposal was very well received and the people who initially attended out of curiosity, ended the workshop being more aware the meaning, causes and consequences of human trafficking and smuggling. Miriam Montero Gómezes technician of Nurses for the World projects speaks here in Spanish.

Finally, the Assembly for Cooperation for Peace (ACPP) contributes to this project the experience of the women protagonists in 2011 of the so-called Arab Spring. They raised their voices to demand social and political improvements that would consolidate human rights. With them, this NGO works in the Maghreb, to support and strengthen civil movements and associations that promote women’s rights, so that they are the engine of change in their countries. Anna Rispa is a reference of the Assembly of Cooperation for Peace in the Maghreb. Here is her testimony in Spanish.

Adja Kadije, peace mediator in the Central African Republic

. WOMEN’S EQUALITY .

An article by Gwénaëlle Lenoir from CCFD Terre Solidaire (translation by CPNN)

Since girls are burdened with the thankless tasks of fetching water and firewood and since they are the ones who must look after their brothers and sisters, then they must also be the centerpieces of awareness-raising about non-violence. This was the idea of Adja Kadije in 2015 when she decided to create the “Girls” branch of Pijca (Interfaith platform for Central African youth, partner of CCFD-Terre Solidaire).

Volunteer in the association since its creation in 2014, she had noticed two apparently contradictory things: on the one hand, “the girls who joined La Pijca were not at ease. They were undoubtedly afraid of the boys” and, on the other hand, “it’s easier for a girl to get people’s ears.” We were much more efficient than the boys! ”

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(Click here for the original French version)

Questions for this article

Can the women of Africa lead the continent to peace?

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The two intuitions prove to be correct: the “Girls” branch gave birth to social mediators, who are today in the hundreds across the country. “We can identify in a city thirty young girls who can be leaders, by relying on information from the churches and Muslim associations,” explains Adja. “We give them a mini-training in conflict resolution and the promotion of women’s rights. We also give them a little nest egg and teach them how to manage it to create small activities such as selling in the markets. And they themselves train other young girls.” They are able to combine economic independence and spreading the culture of peace.

Adja learned on the job. But still very young, just as she was about to enter adulthood, the world she knew was shattered. It was in 2013. She was 20 years old, a student in civil engineering, living with her parents, her three brothers and her four sisters in the commune of Begoua, one of the main gateways to the capital. La Seleka, a coalition of predominantly Muslim armed groups, seized Bangui and power in March. The anti-balaka, predominantly Christian militias, attacked in December. The two make their way by looting, raping and killing.

Encourage young people to reject manipulation

Like their neighbors, the Kadije family was forced to flee. She found refuge in a displaced persons site, in Bangui itself. Frowned upon by her neighbors, because she is Muslim and assimilated to the aggressors of the Seleka, Adja joined the Pijca, determined to counter the sectarian killings. With others, Christians and Muslims, she goes from neighborhood to neighborhood, from city to city, encouraging young people to reject manipulation. At first, her audacity is mixed with fear in these towns from which Muslims have been driven out. “But I was proud to be a part of it. When I was on the radio, I warned people in my neighborhood, ” she recalls.

Today the smile is a little sad. In December, the armed groups resumed attacks, and former combatants, aided by La Pijca, joined them. “They are easily manipulated, because they don’t do much and take a lot of drugs, especially pills. It’s a bit hopeless,” sighs Adja. But her depression is short-lived. The future of her country and her two little boys are at stake.