Figure 1- Participants at the North Africa Convening of women’s rights organisations and feminists movements
By Ablodegbo Ameyo Savi Dekoleadenu
Since the Beijing Declaration in September 1995, Women’s rights issues in Africa have registered significant progress. For example, in the area of women’s political participation in Africa, the report on “Women’s Rights in Africa” highlights a major improvement, showing Rwanda (61.3%), South Africa (42.7%) and Senegal (41.8%) in the top 11 of the world ranking of women’s representation in national parliaments.
In countries like Mauritius, Liberia, Malawi, and the Central African Republic, women have been elected into office as President and Vice-President of their republics. Also, for the first time in its history, Ethiopia is currently headed by a woman. Togo, Senegal, Mozambique and several African countries have ratified several conventions that guarantee respect for women’s rights.
Despite all this progress however, women are still deprived of some of their rights in various aspects of their lives. The exclusion of women (especially rural women) in decision-making processes and in the process of social development; female genital mutilation; child marriage, illiteracy, social constraints, religious extremism, Sexual harassment, domestic violence, the exploitation of women by men and many others constitute obstacles to the full enjoyment of women’s rights.
In North Africa, feminist movements and women’s organisations hold up the torch of hope and continue to be active in the struggle for women’s rights. In Morocco, Association Démocratique des Femmes du Maroc (ADFM), a grantee organisation of the African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF) and the Fondation YTTO pour l’hébergement et la Réhabilitation des Femmes Victimes de Violences, actively contribute to the promotion of women’s rights through their work to support women, (especially rural women) in their region.
ADFM is more involved in reform projects with the main objective of promoting women’s strategic rights and interests. ADFM is a co-founder of the “coalition printemps de la dignité pour la réforme du code penal” and has supported the soulaliyates women in obtaining equal treatment in land rights.
Every year, YTTO Foundation organises a social caravan. The overall objective is to increase awareness on women’s rights issues and integrate women’s movements through village associations. The caravan consists of a multi-activity action in which there are free medical and legal consultations and workshops for women entitled “Madam you have rights – Express yourself”
To help North African countries fight for the rights of African women, the African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF) organised a convening of feminist and women’s organisations on 17 and 18 April 2019 at the Odyssée Center Hotel, Casablanca, Morocco. The main objective of this convening is to share not only the successes achieved by feminists’ activists, but also the challenges they face and discuss ways of collaborations and opportunities.
The African Women’s Development Fund was established in June 2000, as an Africa-wide philanthropic, grant making initiative to support the realisation and fulfilment of African women’s rights through funding of autonomous women’s organisations on the continent. AWDF supports change-makers; African women’s activist organisations and individuals who have held and advanced the line on women’s rights.