THE HAGUE, NETHERLANDS – The African Women Rights Advocates (AWRA), led by women from the African continent and diaspora is celebrating its launch today as it becomes one of the first survivor-led initiatives aimed at creating sustainable change to empower African women and girls.
A dynamic group of African leaders, entrepreneurs, and grassroots activists whose founding members include many survivors of various forms of gender-based violence, have banded together to disrupt the African NGO space. The aim is to create a safe space where creative minds and changemakers come together to create impactful campaigns.
“I’m very excited to congratulate the African Women Rights Advocates movement on their launch. AWRA isn’t just an organization, it is a global community, and this kind of strong support system is needed today more than ever for African women and girls,” said Alaa Salah, AWRA member and Nobel Peace Prize nominee.
AWRA recognizes the need to acknowledge and address longstanding power imbalances, gender inequality and inequity, and oppressive norms and systematic practices across Africa. Part of this involves recognizing women in leadership positions and ensuring that African women’s voices are not only heard at decision-making tables, but also accurately represented.
“The coronavirus pandemic that we’ve faced in 2020 has highlighted once again that women and girls are the most affected when disasters or emergency situations arise, especially in some of the most vulnerable communities across Africa,” said Reem Abdellatif, AWRA founding member, journalist, and women’s rights advocate.
“The economic and social issues facing African women in a post-pandemic world are challenging, but not insurmountable. That’s why a new kind of dialogue that involves everyone must take place in order to address inequalities, especially in the workplace,” Abdellatif added.
For decades, large sums of international aid and private funds have been invested to address issues such as Female Genital Mutiliation (FGM), reproductive health, as well as early and forced marriage in Africa. However, the change created has not matched the financial investments. This is due in large part to improper engagement with members of communities- they are seen as recipients of charity and provided little to no agency in deciding their fates.
That’s where AWRA comes in.
AWRA is where collaborations happen with allies. It is a platform for everyone that cares and believes in women’s rights, education, and strategic partnerships to ensure African women and girls everywhere live their best lives without limitations.
“This is the perfect time to launch in order to close the gap that has been missing in advocating for the rights of women in Africa. We’ve not had an initiative that is represented by the people who feel so passionate about the issues that they are championing for,” said Domtila Chesang, AWRA founding member and a leading grassroots activist based in Kenya focused on anti-Female Genital Mutilation campaigns and education for girls.
AWRA believes in analyzing the opportunities and barriers that African women frontrunners face relative to their unique context, culture, and leadership roles. This means ensuring that accountability measures are in place so that all African women and girls everywhere live a dignified and fulfilled life.
“As a group of women and men of African descent living in the continent and globally in the diaspora, we chose to be our own advocates and use our differences or dualities in identities, languages, cultures, professions and experiences as our superpower,” said Naimah Hassan, founding member of AWRA and women’s rights advocate and Campaigns, Development and Communications executive with over 13 years of experience.
“I am elated to be part of such an aspirational organization where we can critically challenge policies and enable commitment, campaigns and consistency for African women and girls to thrive and lead solutions for good health and wellbeing, for gender equality, and partnerships with like minded individuals, organizations and donors that are creating spaces for next generation of African girls to truly succeed and thrive,” Naimah added.