Join our session at CSW 62 – The Political Power of Movement Building: Galvanising Women’s Collective Power to Advance Gender Equality

At this year’s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) theme, UAF-Africa will convene a parallel session on Movement Building as this has been the greatest tool of achieving gender equality and empowerment of all women including rural women and girls.

In this session panellists and participants will deliberate on the importance of building and strengthening movements without leaving any woman behind regardless of class, status or age. It will be a moment to strategise on improving our partnership models, information and intelligence sharing; to think about innovative ways of reaching out to and partnering with diverse organisations to strengthen each other’s capacities and reverse the increasing divide between elite/urban and rural based organisations. Find more information below:

Opening remarks: Amy Bisno, Programme Officer Civil and Political Rights & Humanitarian Response American Jewish World Service

Panellists: Memory Kachambwa, Programmes Manager- African Women’s Development and Communications Network (FEMNET), and Tariro Tandi, Partnerships and Development Manager- Urgent Action Fund-Africa, Eunice MusiimeAkina Mama Wa Africa (feminist leadership and movement building), Saquina MucaveleMUGEDE- Mulher, Género e Desenvolvimento (Mozambique, Rural Women movement building)

Moderator: Nyaradzai Gumbodzvanda (AU Goodwill Ambassador on ending child marriages) from Rozaria Memorial Trust

Closing Remarks: Korto Williams, Board Chair- UAF-Africa

In light of this year’s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) theme, UAF-Africa will convene a parallel session on Movement Building as this has been the greatest tool of achieving gender equality and empowerment of all women including rural women and girls. In UAF-Africa’s strategic plan ‘Finger on the Pulse 2016-2020’, the Fund committed to strengthening of African women’s organising and linking capacity, facilitating collaborations and strategic linkages to bolster women’s rights and feminist movement. In light of this, the Fund is organising a session at the backdrop of a society that is beset with escalating inequalities and divisions.

The aim of the session is to have a discussion on the role and place of movement building in safeguarding and preserving women’s rights in light of the current context of closing civil society space. All across the globe, there is a sense of urgency in the way that people need to mobilise, defend and safeguard spaces that are under attack by state and non-state actors. In their 2018 report Freedom House reported that democracy was facing its most serious crisis in decades marking the 12th consecutive year of decline in global freedom.  With current backlash to women’s rights gains, increasing criminalisation of and dwindling funding for women’s rights work, tightening of laws restricting NGO’s work, growing persecution of women’s human rights defenders (WHRD) by both state and non-state agents, strengthening women’s movement is no longer a CHOICE; IT IS A PRIORITY. Our current operating landscape requires us to be united more than ever before, conjugating our efforts for a common and global agenda: gender equality without living anyone behind.

The solidarity women across the divides are showcasing is critical in counteracting the divisive tactics being employed to sometimes place rural women against urban women in a bid to weaken the movement. This session will also provide a much-needed space for reflection on key issues paramount to gender equality and women’s rights, as well as collaborating to effect positive change for all women and girls within our respective communities.  It will inevitably also be a time of celebrating the tremendous gains that generations have made (and are still making) through collaborations and working as movements so as to be able to flourish.

There is generally a growing sense of self-critique, auto-evaluation within the feminist movement which is presenting a tremendous opportunity to rethink our strategies, improve our partnerships/collaborations and advance women’s rights agenda in one voice harnessing the power of the collective. A current trend where more and more donors are requiring applicants to apply for funding as partnerships or consortiums, is forcing us to harness our collective strengths and form strong, inclusive and viable partnerships among women’s rights organising. This brings in the issue of strengthening the capacities of small, young and rural based organisations to ensure that they equally benefit from available resources as well as enjoy the benefits of solidarity as a strategic way of building and sustaining formidable movements.

In this session panellists and participants will deliberate on the importance of building and strengthening movements without leaving any woman behind regardless of class, status or age. It will be a moment to strategize on improving our partnership models, information and intelligence sharing; to think about innovating ways of reaching out to and partnering with diverse organisations to strengthen each other’s capacities and reverse the increasing divide between elite/urban and rural based organisations.

Panellists will discuss effective ways of addressing challenges within the women’s rights movement including internal fights, competition for funding, accountability and leadership issues.  This discussion will also touch on how we can avoid over-stretching our efforts which make our work less effective.

The event will also be an occasion to reflect on making more effective opportunities available to the feminist movement: possibilities of engaging movements outside our circles to avoid speaking to ourselves; taking advantage of technological advancements; benefits of documenting and profiling our work; sharing our success stories and lessons and many more opportunities that should be exploited.

Panellists will further have time to share their experiences, opportunities, challenges, lessons and come up with action plans geared towards the strengthening of the feminist/ women’s rights movement.

Women’s rights organizing in Africa and across the globe has grown from strength to strength, with accumulation of a wealth of experience and knowledge to advance Gender Equality and Women’s Rights. In appreciating the importance of movement building as a political tool towards achieving gender equality, activists will embrace the power of the collective in effecting transformative changes.

 Our objectives for this session are as follows;

  • To provide a space for learning and reflection on how movement building is taking place or needs to take place within the African women’s movement
  • To strategize on actions that can make us more responsive and innovative in ensuring a vibrant women’s movements.
  • To gain new knowledge/ ideas on how we can further strengthen and reinvigorate women’s organizing and activism.
  • To reflect on the challenges associated with movement building and discuss emerging opportunities for strengthening the movement to ensure the achievement of gender equality and the women’s rights agenda

Methodology

The session will be organised in both plenary and round table discussions. The aim is to have an interactive, participatory and all-inclusive dialogue which will allow participants to share their rich and authentic experiences and best practices. This format will encourage informed conversations and information exchange.

Venue: American Jewish World Service (AJWS) Board Room, 45 West, 11th Floor, 36th Street, New York.

Date: 13 March 2018

Time: 10.00-11:30 hours

RSVP: Tariro@uaf-africa.org

 

 

At this year’s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) theme, UAF-Africa will convene a parallel session on Movement Building as this has been the greatest tool of achieving gender equality and empowerment of all women including rural women and girls.

In this session panellists and participants will deliberate on the importance of building and strengthening movements without leaving any woman behind regardless of class,

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Using Violence and Mobilising Anxiety: Repressing Feminist Activism Online

At Urgent Action Fund-Africa (UAF-Africa), we work to support women’s human rights defenders (WHRDs) who face incredible odds in doing their work. From emergencies related to their security, the security of their groups and organizations, or emergencies involving their loved ones who are targeted because of the activism of WHRDs; to unexpected events that arise during times of political, social and economic crises and upheavals.

We know that social change takes brave actions and people who are willing to stand up for justice. And so we work to support the brave African women activists and activist organisations that are standing up for women’s rights, always in the face of great hostility and violence.

The violence that WHRDs face changes with the kind of activism they do, the tools they use, and certainly, where they operate. One of the tools WHRDs use to disseminate information, advocate, mobilize, organize and advance women’s human rights is the internet. And they face an especially daunting environment there. The nature of violations continuously evolves, from trolling to stalking; “revenge pornography” and image manipulation to receiving online threats; and the constant usage of new tools for surveillance and censorship.

absence of a feminist lens of online harm and the inability of WHRDs to influence strategies for internet governance and regulation; coupled with a lack of awareness of how much private and sensitive information WHRDs give out using the internet, including social networking sites in particular, have meant that we are being ever more affected by online forms of violence and harm. In addition to its very real effects on our ability to organize, mobilize, and stay safe, online violence also causes us to censor ourselves or refrain from speaking up at all. This ultimately hinders our momentum in the various movements and communities we are part of.

We have been tracking the forms of violence that WHRDs report to us through grant reports and during convenings we organize. From their input, we gathered that there are two major areas of work that warrant our attention when thinking about online activism and violence: 1. Violence against WHRDs, which can take many forms, including cyberstalking, image manipulation, trolling, harassment, threats, and blackmail that are used to punish WHRDs who occupy the online public space and use it to advocate for, mobilize, and organize for women’s rights; and 2. Creating moral anxieties to obstruct women’s ability to organize online. Culture and morality are constantly being used to control women’s bodies and behaviors. They are used to justify state interventions that restrict the rights to privacy and freedom of access to information. In September, 2017, for example, Egyptian authorities carried out a large scale campaign to arrest LGBT individuals and activists, after news of concert attendees raising the rainbow flag circulated. Authorities targeted individuals who published online content that ties them to the concert, building an atmosphere of moral outrage to mobilize support for persecution that aims to protect the country’s moral and religious values.

The strategies of violence that WHRDs report to us have grown more complex over the years, from receiving threatening messages on Facebook, to the usage of governments of various tactics to mass produce their own content to distort the digital landscape in their favor without making the sponsored nature of the content explicit.

In July 2017, we organized a convening, with our Urgent Action Fund sister funds, on the closure of civil society space. 60 WHRDs from across the regions in which we fund came together to discuss the manners in which they are experiencing the closure of civic space. The North African activists in the room spoke at length about the internet as an important avenue for mobilizing and sharing their ideas. They also spoke about the grave dangers they experience on the internet, and the very real “offline” threats they are facing because of their online activism. They expressed the need for resources to be available in Arabic (including trainings, research, and manuals) that would enable them to be safer online. They also expressed the need for platforms and spaces where they can share their experiences, and learn, about the different ways in which they are being monitored, threatened and manipulated online. They also want to speak about internet governance issues and spaces that they need to be engaged with to influence the manner in which the internet is experienced by feminist activists. Most importantly, they want these spaces to be Arabic-speaking ones. No instantaneous translators present, or the need to translate often complicated manuals to Arabic.

We found the opportunity to provide Arabic-speaking spaces through the support of the African Women’s Development Fund Leading from the South grants, a funding initiative created to resource women’s rights activism in the global South over 4 years. Through this grant, UAF-Africa will be will be working with WHRDs from Tunisia and Egypt to explore their experiences with online activism. How are they using the internet in the promotion, and their own, exercise of their rights and what are the possible implications of online content regulation measures on this ability? Is the internet still a transformative public and political space? What tactics have they used to avoid surveillance of their activities and from the real risks and dangers that they can face online? How can we develop trust and a greater sense of certainty when using ephemeral technology to create content, interact with others, grow trusted networks, and create safe spaces for ourselves?

Check back here regularly to read – in Arabic and English- about the experiences of WHRDs in resisting online violence.

As feminists who are active users of the internet for our personal use and activism, this project will work with the following principle from the Feminist Principles of the Internet in mind: “The attacks, threats, intimidation and policing experienced by women and queers are real, harmful and alarming, and are part of the broader issue of gender-based violence. It is our collective responsibility to address and end this.”[1] Our struggle for safe online spaces is one that forms part of a continuum for our resistance in other spaces, public, private and in-between.

This piece was written by Masa Amir
Learning and Innovation Officer, Urgent Action Fund-Africa.

 

 

[1] https://www.apc.org/en/pubs/feminist-principles-internet-version-20

At Urgent Action Fund-Africa (UAF-Africa), we work to support women’s human rights defenders (WHRDs) who face incredible odds in doing their work. From emergencies related to their security, the security of their groups and organizations, or emergencies involving their loved ones who are targeted because of the activism of WHRDs; to unexpected events that arise during times of political,

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Global Women’s Fund Forge Ahead At Prospera X Biennial Conference – By Tariro Tandi

Tariro Tandi, our Partnership and Development Manager reflects on the power of a strong resilient global women’s funds leveraging resources to advance women’s rights in a funding landscape that is threatened by shifting priorities and dwindling resources.

As the days for the Prospera meeting drew closer and closer, I was exuberant about finding myself in a space with passionate feminists from the world over. The concept note for the conference revealed that indeed this was a timeous and relevant meeting held under the theme, ‘Resilience and Resistance’ at the backdrop of governments cracking down on civil society, restricting human rights especially for women and the LBTQI who speak truth to power and challenge the status quo through their identity.

After a long travel, I found myself in Colombo. At registration, I knew therein that this was going to be an inspirational space due to the extra touches of warmth, love and creativity that greeted me at the registration desk-typical of feminist spaces. On the first day of the conference which was the General Assembly for Prospera full members, a members’ impact report was presented which made me realise that indeed this was a powerhouse of committed women. It was announced that in the past five years the Women’s Funds had collectively raised $313.5 million and made grants to 5000+ women’s rights groups and activists worldwide. This was a true show of resilience exhibited by Women’s Funds in leveraging resources to advance the rights of women in a funding landscape that is threatened by shifting priorities and dwindling resources. I was convinced henceforth that despite all the looming challenges, Women’s Funds had the forte and passion to ensure women’s rights work was fully resourced.

My most intriguing and thought-provoking session was the powerhouse panel on resource mobilization on day three of the conference. This session focused on mobilizing resources for resilient feminist movements and organisations. The panelists provided an in-depth analysis of how they have been grappling to fundraise (this resonated with our Fund) for women’s rights programming and how they continuously rise above the challenge. This was my‘aha’ moment for me as it was interesting to see how all the sisters on the panel had innovated various strategies and formulas to mobilise for effective and efficient resources. Zohra Moosa from Mama Cash spoke of three A’s to feminist funding that is; it has to be adequate, appropriate and accessible which are guiding principles when resourcing feminist movement.

Theo Sowa from the African Women’s Development Fund spoke of the need for autonomy conscious resources that allow women’s funds to control resources and build movements with much fluidity allowing room for negotiations and push back when the conditions on the table compromises our feminist values. Maria Bobenrieth from Win’Win Strategies spoke about agility noting that as Women’s Funds we need to have the ability to adapt when the earth quakes around us and the ecosystem of funders become more or less reliable.

Cynthia Eyakuze spoke about the fact that many a times effectiveness is not defined by us rather it is a phenomenon that is imposed on us, highlighting the need to coin our own effectiveness standards. After this session, I clearly understood that it is not easy to mobilise resources for resilient movements. It was also clear that Women’s Funds have a great role in navigating the funding trajectory in a tactful way that resources women’s rights work whilst also ensuring that we do not compromise on our fundamental values. Most Funds seem to be thriving in getting programmatic Funds and not funds for our sustainability which requires us to have the agility and ability to sit on the different tables to negotiate for resources that do not make us lose our soul in the process.

I was privileged to be on a panel that discussed the strengths, struggles and successes in collaborations. Partnerships is indeed a buzzword these days and most Funds are in one partnership or the other. It was interesting to note that partnerships are indeed a lot of work for all the sisters that were on the panel. No one spoke about collaborations being easy but the spirit of sisterhood cements the many partnerships that Women’s Funds find themselves in.  This was such an honest discussion detailing the struggles that most people experience in engaging in partnerships from the decisions that take forever to be made to the different time zones we operate in that result in some partners having meetings as early as 1am, to the vast amount of time they take to ensure that they are running effectively. It was indeed evident that partnerships are not rosy, they require great investments such as time, funds, energy, political will, trust, talent, values, principles, communication for them to succeed. This session clearly showed that our shared vision as Women’s Funds make us look past the multiple challenges we might face in collaborating with one another as we realise that when we team together, we are capable of achieving results that are exponentially greater than we would individually.

As I went to sleep every night, I kept getting flash backs of the discussions that I was privileged to have with many sisters which continuously reminded me of the power of movement building and collective action. In the same vein the space was thought provoking and every night I engaged in self-introspection thinking about what it is that I can do to improve the funding landscape for women’s rights work as well as food for thought in terms of how UAF-Africa can bolster her grantmaking during these challenging times when the space is continually shrinking for many activists.

Ageism is usually such a thorn in many conferences I have attended before but with this conference the intergenerational interactions that were happening were impressive and telling of how the movement is interested in sustained growth. This indeed ensures that the young ones get to learn from the older ones acknowledging the foundation that has been laid before to thrive. Fondo Calala in this regard stated that, ‘when the knowledge of older feminists combines with the energy of younger feminists, we can be unstoppable.’

The conference did live to its title, featuring diverse participants and covering a broad range of thematic areas: environmental justice and climate change, LBTQI, SRHR, VAW, extractivism, movement building and resourcing for all of this. I must applaud Prospera because they were plenty of opportunities to network and I sure did make use of every opportunity I got to network and get to understand the different work that feminists and activist are engaging in worldwide and how funding partners are innovating to support such work. Interestingly too, I was able to finally network in person with people I had had cyber interactions with before the conference-finally putting the faces to the names. The social events which were well staggered during the entire period were also a great opportunity for the participants to ‘let their hair down’ and socialize in an informal space.

I will always look forward to this space as it inculcated a sense of communal belonging and solidarity, allowing for play and rejuvenation, networking with diverse players, professional development, movement building and collective action in resourcing the advancement of women’s rights across the world. As a first timer, this was a successful and thought-provoking conference allowing complex, high level conversations to be held in a constructive manner birthing strengthened relationships, friendships, collaborations, inspiration and tangible partnerships.

My greatest takeaway from this meeting was that although the feminist community or rather the Women’s Funds face multiple funding challenges, what makes us thrive and succeed is that we always remain resolute. This coming together is indeed a powerful tool towards ensuring that the movement is formidable and interconnected, leveraging on each other’s skills, expertise and social capital to contribute to the transformation of women and girls’ lives the world over.

 

 

 

Tariro Tandi, our Partnership and Development Manager reflects on the power of a strong resilient global women’s funds leveraging resources to advance women’s rights in a funding landscape that is threatened by shifting priorities and dwindling resources.

As the days for the Prospera meeting drew closer and closer, I was exuberant about finding myself in a space with passionate feminists from the world over.

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How Our Rapid Response Grantmaking works

Quick facts about how our rapid response grantmaking works
We support activists and women’s rights organisations to access quick funds to address unplanned and unanticipated interventions that will advance women’s rights in Africa. This quick facts will allow you get all the information you need to access our rapid response grant.

 

Quick facts about how our rapid response grantmaking works
We support activists and women’s rights organisations to access quick funds to address unplanned and unanticipated interventions that will advance women’s rights in Africa. This quick facts will allow you get all the information you need to access our rapid response grant.

 

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UAF-Africa #CSW61 side events

Side events to look forward;

 1. 

Strategic Resourcing for African Women’s Rights: Spotlighting the Opportunities on Friday 17th March, 2017, at 14:00 – 15:30 hours (EDT): Rodger Smith Hotel on 501 Lexington Avenue, NY, NY.

2. 

The LBTQ movement in Francophone West Africa: Lessons and Opportunities on Monday 21st March, 2017, at 14:30 – 16:00 hours (EDT): American Jewish World Service – AJWS 45 W 36th St, New York, New York 10018.

Join the conversation on Twitter by following @UAFAfrica for updates.

Side events to look forward;
 1. 
Strategic Resourcing for African Women’s Rights: Spotlighting the Opportunities on Friday 17th March, 2017, at 14:00 – 15:30 hours (EDT): Rodger Smith Hotel on 501 Lexington Avenue, NY, NY.
2. 
The LBTQ movement in Francophone West Africa: Lessons and Opportunities on Monday 21st March, 2017, at 14:30 –Continue Reading

NGO CSW/Africa Events at #CSW61

 

The 61st session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW61), taking place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 13 – 24 March, 2017, will focus on the theme of “Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work.” The Commission is one of the largest annual gathering of global leaders, NGOs, private sector actors, United Nations partners and activists from around the world focusing on the status of rights and empowerment of all women and girls, everywhere. This year’s session is taking place at a critical juncture, as the world of work is changing fast, spurred by innovation, globalization and increasing human mobility. At the same time, it is adversely impacted by climate change, humanitarian crises, rising informality of labour and economic inequality. For sustainable and healthy economies, the world of work must empower women and remove the persisting inequalities that hold women back from getting on equal footing with men.

For more visit UN website.

 

 

The 61st session of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW61), taking place at the United Nations Headquarters in New York from 13 – 24 March, 2017, will focus on the theme of “Women’s economic empowerment in the changing world of work.” The Commission is one of the largest annual gathering of global leaders,

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#UrgentAction4Women WEBINAR

DATE: Monday 6th March, 2017

TIMES: 3:00 – 5:00 PM (EAT), 2:00 – 4:00 PM (CAT), 1:00 – 3:00 PM (WAT)

Join the #UrgentAction4Women webinar to explore powerful organising strategies for women ‘s rights in Africa. This webinar will be moderated by Korto Reeves Williams. 

Register HERE.

DATE: Monday 6th March, 2017
TIMES: 3:00 – 5:00 PM (EAT), 2:00 – 4:00 PM (CAT), 1:00 – 3:00 PM (WAT)
Join the #UrgentAction4Women webinar to explore powerful organising strategies for women ‘s rights in Africa. This webinar will be moderated by Korto Reeves Williams. 
Register HERE.Continue Reading

#UrgentAction4Women Tweet-a-thon Report

UAF-AFRICA Tweet-a-thon Report

 

On Wednesday 8th February, 2017 UAF-Africa hosted a robust and landmark women’s rights oriented tweet-a-thon with the hashtag #UrgentAction4Women. The tweet-a-thon’s main objectives were:

  • To establish from the Fund’s social media constituency and beyond, the urgent issues impacting women in Africa that require immediate attention, action and response.
  • To contribute to the process of shining the light on a platform where African women from across a broad spectrum collectively wove their dreams, frustrations, hopes, fears, dilemmas, challenged each other, interrogated patriarchal structures and systems while celebrating achievements the movement has recorded and consciously determined the next steps.

The platform provided an opportunity to bring together African women from across different social movements to share with UAF-Africa and other interested parties what immediate human rights issues women are excited about as well as grappling with. The tweet-a-thon provided a space to invigorate discussions that are happening at global, national and local levels, exploring issues and experiences affecting African women across various contexts. The discussions explored events and phenomena that are shaping discourse; the way we think, the way we act and the way we perceive the future with regards women’s human rights. Successfully, the tweetathon brought together women’s rights activists; feminists engaged with gender, socio-political, economic and environmental justice from across Africa to interrogate the human rights issues African women are grappling with and further explore ways to pivot our support (as a Fund) to women’s specific struggles.

Download report for more.

UAF-AFRICA Tweet-a-thon Report

 

On Wednesday 8th February, 2017 UAF-Africa hosted a robust and landmark women’s rights oriented tweet-a-thon with the hashtag #UrgentAction4Women. The tweet-a-thon’s main objectives were:

  • To establish from the Fund’s social media constituency and beyond, the urgent issues impacting women in Africa that require immediate attention,

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#UrgentAction4Women TWEETATHON

What do you regard as an URGENT women’s rights issue in Africa?

Join @UAFAfrica and @NdanaTawamba, on Wednesday 8th of February 2017, for a robust tweetathon that will bring together African women from across different social movements to discuss the immediate human rights issues women are excited about as well as grappling with, on a daily basis.

Have your say, Your idea could be “THE IDEA.”

#UrgentAction4Women

What do you regard as an URGENT women’s rights issue in Africa?

Join @UAFAfrica and @NdanaTawamba, on Wednesday 8th of February 2017, for a robust tweetathon that will bring together African women from across different social movements to discuss the immediate human rights issues women are excited about as well as grappling with,

Continue Reading