Voices of African Women Seminars, November 2008

Voices of African Women seminar, November 2008 Voices of African Women seminar, November 2008

The UK WILPF Voices of African Women campaign was initiated in November 2008 when grassroots African women campaigners from Malawi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, Angola, Rwanda and Nigeria travelled to London to share their stories. They shared stories of struggle, justice and injustice, but above all, stories about human survival. The campaign has been ongoing ever since and has inspired and empowered many women.

While the African women were together, they drafted a declaration that highlighted their key concerns. On 28 April 2009, WILPF presented this declaration to the Prime Minister of the UK, the UK Department for International Development, African embassies and other stakeholders.

Voices of African Women seminar, November 2008 Voices of African Women seminar, November 2008 Solidarity

The women also took part in a seminar series focussed on the impact of NGO policies, as well as national and international politics on Africa’s past, present and future. The women identified what alliances exist and what needs to be put in place to safeguard Africa’s independence, growth and desire for peace. The seminars were about listening to the voices of African women and learning how we can work with them to improve the future of Africa.

  • Parliamentary Forum. On Wednesday 5 November 2008, the African women addressed a full committee room in the House of Commons. The women discussed various issues from land use to development to conflict. Some of the MPs who attended later used examples and knowledge that they had gained in other parliamentary meetings.
  • Round Table Meeting. On Friday 7 November 2008, a round table meeting was held at Chatham House. With questions posed by academics and policy makers, the African women gave more detail of the issues they were working on and started a discussion on what can be done about the issues affecting them.
  • Seminar. To close the series, a full day seminar was held at the Amnesty International office on Saturday 8 November 2008. The seminar focussed on conflict issues, peace building, development and governance in a discussive ‘question-time’ format.

Speakers

Jeanine Ngungu

Jeanine NgunguJeanine Ngungu is an activist for women’s rights. She is the Secretary General of Common Cause DRC, which advocates for women’s representation and participation in decision-making institutions, participates in the process of peace building in the DRC and monitors women’s participation in public life. She also acts as the focal point for the ‘We Can’ Oxfam Novib campaign, which seeks to mobilize men and women to end violence against women. Jeanine is also a member of the WILPF DRC group and the women’s caucus.

Drocèle Mugomoka Mbonwa

Drocele MugomokaMs Drocèle Mugomoka Mbonwa is a development technician who works with grassroots women in the east of the DRC. Furthermore, she is a women’s rights activist within the DRC civil society in campaigning against Sexual Violence and for gender mainstreaming. She has assisted various international humanitarians NGOs and UN agencies in providing support to grassroots population in the DRC. She has also provided support to the recent documentary about the situation of women in the DRC, “The greatest Silence Rape in the Congo” directed by Lisa Jackson. She is a member of various networks of women at the national and international level, and is the current focal point for WILPF DRC group in Bukavu.

Mildred Gloria Sharra

Mildred SharraMildred Gloria Sharra has 7 years experience as an activist in Women’s Rights, Gender, HIV/AIDS and Human Rights, five of which have been spent in designing, implementing, monitoring and evaluating Women’s Rights, Right to Food and HIV/AIDS programmes. Her technical expertise includes movement building, social research, campaigning, lobbying, advocacy and networking.

Sharra is currently Women’s Rights Thematic Coordinator in Action Aid International Malawi and provides strategic leadership in women’s right and gender issues for example; movement and capacity building for women’s groups advocating around specific issues. Currently, she is responsible for mobilizing and building women’s coalitions for HIV positive women, women farmers and the right to food vis-à-vis productive resources etc.

Sharra has also conducted a lot of research in relation to women’s rights and the right to food and is a member of the Malawi Right to Food Task Force. Sharra is passionate about women’s rights and believes in the notion that women’s empowerment is key to poverty eradication.

Mawete Vo Teka Sala

Mawete Vo Teka SalaMawete Vo Teka Sala has over 30 years experience as a political activist, organizer and human rights campaigner. A student activist in the Angolan pro-independence nationalist movement in the early seventies, she went on to the national executive committee of the first union of secondary school students PRO-AESL. She was a cadre in the Angolan pro-independence movement and was active in the revolutionary armed resistance which defeated the Portuguese colonialists in the national liberation war. She lived in Portugal for 4 years where she worked as a community activist and journalist.

Mawete has been involved in the Angolan peace movement, bringing attention to grassroots voices. Campaigning for the inclusion of civil society voices in conflict resolution, she played a prominent role in the global effort to advocate for a settlement to end the civil war. In 1990, she was appointed UK representative of the Angolan Civic Association (ACA), the first independent civil society association to emerge in Angola since 1976. She was the chairperson of the Afrikan Liberation Support Campaign (ALISC), a board member of the Jubilee 2000 Africa Campaign, and she is the chairperson and co-founder of Moyo wa Taifa (Pan Afrikan Women’s Solidarity Network).

Annie Matundu – Mbambi

Annie MatunduAnnie Matundu – Mbambi, Gender & Development Consultant holds a double Masters degree in Public Financial and Economic Planification from the state University of Antwerp- Belgium. She has been Manager of the Centre Protestant d’Approvisionnement en Médicaments de l’E.C.C. She has 15 years experience as an activist on women rights. Currently she is the representative and chairlady of WILPF in the DRC. Her focus is particularly on UNSCR1325 and she has been involved in campaigning for gender mainstreaming and the elimination of all forms of violence against women. She is helping promote social entrepreneurship for women and is initiating a small bakery and a cooperative farms for women in the outskirt of Kinshasa to enable women to generate income generating revenue while receiving some education. She is also active with women in politics. She is the Vice-President of “Action des Femmes du Bas Fleuve”, a member of “Caucus de femmes Congolaises” and a member of AWID and Réseau Genre en Action.

Alice Ukoko

Alice UkokoAlice Ukoko is a human rights defender who has devoted her active life since 1994, when she established Women of Nigeria International (WONI) now Women Of Africa, to campaign for an end to human rights abuses in Nigeria and to being the “voice” for African women and their families. The focus of her work has been to raise the awareness of the human right abuses going on in Nigeria, in particular the militarization of the Niger Delta.

Alice is the founder and CEO of Women Of Africa. Alice contested the governorship of oil rich Delta State of Nigeria during the 2007 general elections. She is now working with the militant group of the Niger Delta for lasting peace and development. She regularly visits Nigeria and other parts of Africa to listen to the voices of African women and their challenges to achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals.

Khadiga Hussein

Khadiga Hussein

Khadiga was the State Minister for the Ministry of Peace in Sudan in 1988, until the ministry was dissolved in 1989 after the coup. She is the Fou

nder and chairperson of Sudanese Mothers for Peace. She has been campaigning for peace and human rights for the last thirty years. Previously Khadiga Hussein worked for the Ministry of Education from 1954 and in 1961 was delegated to the UNESCO centre in Egypt. She was awarded as one of 100 women who did great deeds for the Sudan in the last century, awarded as a community champion in peace building and awarded as an Ambassador for Peace WANGO organisation associated with the UN.

Amanda Kozhi Mukwashi

Amanda Kozhi MukwashiAmanda has pursued a career in International Development, working towards the reduction of poverty and combating inequalities and injustices. With over ten years experience in sustainable development, developing and implementing women and economic empowerment programmes, she has worked in developing countries as well as developed countries. Presently Amanda is working with Skillshare International to implement development programmes in the UK, Africa and Asia. Amanda also sits on the Board of BOND (British Overseas NGOs for Development) as a Trustee and also on the Board of Akina Mama wa Afrika. In addition Amanda sits as an Advisor on WOMANKIND’s Committee for Programmes and Policy.

Pauline Dempers

Pauline DempersMs Pauline Dempers is a Namibian human rights activist. Once a member of the South West Africa People’s Organization (SWAPO), a political party and former liberation movement in Namibia, she was tortured and imprisoned in the infamous Lubango Dungeons on the unfounded grounds of being an ‘enemy agent’ for the former apartheid government of Namibia.

Ms Dempers is a founder of Breaking The Wall of Silence (BWS), an organisation that was established to resume, pursue and drive to a final resolution, the unanswered gross human rights violations committed by SWAPO between 1960 and 1989. BWS is a member of the Namibia NGO Forum and The Namibia National Focal Point of Small Arms Proliferation, and is actively involved in the review of Namibia’s gun laws.

Participating Organisations

Common Cause UK

A Platform of Congolese women in the UK, which promotes integration participation and contribution of Congolese women in the UK; as well as providing a network of solidarity with organisations of Congolese women in the DRC, particularly those, represented in the civil society and other religious groups. The platform’s objective for the DRC is to strengthen the empowerment of Congolese women to enable them to participate in the social and economical development of the DRC. They believe that the development of the DRC could be achieved by improving the education and health systems as well as economic empowerment; the lack of which is one of the roots of mass migration of Congolese people.

IANSA Women’s Network

The International Action Network on Small Arms (IANSA) is the global movement against gun violence – a network of 800 civil society organisations working in over 120 countries to stop the proliferation and misuse of small arms and light weapons.

The proliferation and misuse of small arms is a global crisis. It results in 1000 deaths a day and countless more injuries, disabilities and disruptions to the lives of individuals and their communities. It fuels conflict, crime, suicide, abuse by authorities, intimidation and fear. No country in the world is immune to the danger created by readily available guns. Applying a gender perspective to the small arms issue -understanding the different ways that men, women, boys and girls engage in, are affected by, and respond to gun violence – is key to developing effective solutions to the problem.

Action Aid

We’re ActionAid. We’re people who are dedicated to ending the extreme poverty that kills 28 children every minute of every day. We’re a charity and much more. We’re a partnership between people in poor countries and people in rich countries – all working together to end poverty for good.

Women of Africa

Formed in 1994, the organisation participated in the struggle to return Nigeria to civil rule and hence to end human rights abuses in that country. The Women of Nigeria International (WONI) provided a platform for women to engage actively in the struggle for democracy that followed the annulment of Nigeria’s 12th June 1993 Presidential election.

  • Our Vision – Empower African women to nurture; protect and support their children educationally, economically and emotionally.
  • Our Mission – To integrate the African community into UK wider community. To provide a platform for African women to engage effectively in matters of economic development, community safety, conflict resolution for sustainable peace, social justice, poverty and eradication.

Cause Commune DRC

A Platform of Congolese women for the defense and promotion of women’s rights. Cause Commune advocates for the participation of women in decision-making. With a lobbying nature, Common Cause has several actions including:

  • Advocacy for women’s representation in the institutions of the country;
  • Making proposals for the texts of laws;
  • Participation in the process of finding lasting peace in the DRC.
  • Monitoring of women’s participation in national life.

For 12 years Cause Commune has educated women for political engagement and civic participation by fostering solidarity among them.

Sudanese Mothers for Peace

SMP is an international NGO, with international Head offices in UK and Sudan established in 1987.

SMP works on the advancement of education, relief of poverty and empowerment of women, and their families, by the provision of seminars, advice, assistance, representation, counseling, translating and interpreting services in matters such as immigration, money debts, welfare benefits, health, housing, social security, education, training and employment. SMP provides facilities of recreation and leisure time occupation in the interests of social welfare with the object of improving the conditions of life of those persons for whom the facilities are provided. SMP also works to promote human rights throughout the world and works toward rapid and full implementation of United Nations Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security.

Akina Mama wa Afrika

Akina Mama wa Africa (AMwA) is an international, Pan African non governmental development organisation for women based in Africa and in the United Kingdom. Akina Mama wa Afrika (Swahili for ‘Solidarity among African women’) was established in 1985 to create space for African women to organise themselves and to identify issues of concern to them.

AMwA’s mission is to serve as a networking, information, advocacy and training forum for African women. It builds female leadership capacities to influence policy and decision-making. AMwA does this by:

  • Building the leadership capacities of African women and their organisations
  • Creating leadership development opportunities for African women at various levels
  • Highlighting the skills, expertise and creativity of African women
  • Sensitising and empowering African women
  • Challenging sexist and racist stereotypes by emphasising positive images of African women.

Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom: DRC-Group

The WILPF DRC group is currently under development in the capital Kinshasa and has a focal point in Bukavu in the east of the DRC. Gender inequality is one of the major obstacles to sustainable peace and development in the DRC.

The main objective of WILPF DRC group is to support Congolese women with information and literature material as well as support them in their lobbying in the DRC and at the international level using national, regional and international legal frameworks. The group is hoping to further WILPF’s vision in central Africa and influence decision makers, as well as promoting a cohesive manner of working amongst women at the grassroots level, gathering data to further as well as undertake their own research on gender, peace, justice and development. WILPF DRC has been involved in supplying information for a survey on monitoring gender and the implementation of UNSR 1325. WILPF DRC group recently organised a workshop in the outskirt of Kinshasa with women farmers to mark the UN international day of rural women, and initiated a strategy to empower them with information about the protection of the environment as well as civic rights.

Breaking the Wall of Silence

Breaking The Wall of Silence (BWS) was established by former detainees, affected relatives and concerned Namibians in February 1996. This was after post independence attempts made by groups and individuals failed to yield a consistent impact in addressing the plight of the ex-detainees. The BWS was established to resume, pursue and drive to a final resolution, the unanswered gross human rights violations committed by the SWAPO Liberation Movement against its own innocent cadres, especially in Angola and Zambia, during the exile period spanning 1960 and 1989. BWS aims to unite the people of Namibia through genuine national reconciliation.

Moyo Wa Taifa

A Pan African, autonomous, activist and advocacy organisation, Moyo wa Taifa was established to connect the historical and contemporary struggles of women on the African continent and in the Diaspora, Moyo wa Taifa is an advocacy and solidarity network for women of African origin. Moyo wa Taifa in Swahili means “heart of the nation”, reflecting our conviction on the central role of women in the struggle for African liberation.

Operating as a service base, information hub and capacity building resource facility, services for grassroots women, Moyo wa Taifa has worked in the UK since 1994 and in Ghana since 1998. Our work in Ghana has been focused on co-ordinating the Africa Secretariat of the Jubilee 2000 Africa Campaign against debt-slavery. The present focus is on the development of the 1st Moyo Afrika Solidarity Centre located in Accra. Guided by the motto “advocating for justice, organizing for transformation”, the Solidarity Centre is a multi-purpose community resource space for organisers, activists, institutions, groups and organisations.

Seminar booklet