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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