The African Women’s Development Network [FEMNET] struck a historic partnership with the European Union as the agitation to increase awareness of women’s rights in African societies. The launch of the partnership, in collaboration with Oxfam, was attended by key personalities from Africa as well as high commissioners from the European Union.
The project will be implemented among 14 partners in seven African countries in between 2019-2022. The overall objective is to enhance FFEMNET and membership capabilities to inform, mobilize and connect African women and girls for the realization of gender equality and women empowerment.
FEMNET was established in 1988 and formally established in Nairobi in 1993 as a non-governmental organization under the Non-Governmental Organizations Coordination Act of 1990. The network facilitates the sharing of information, experiences, ideas and strategies among African women’s NGOs and individual activists as a strategy for strengthening women’s capacity to participate effectively in the development processes at different levels in Africa.
The network has grown into a visible and credible pan African feminist network that has been at the forefront of informing and mobilizing African women and girls, in order for them to participate and influence policies and processes that affect their lives.
FEMNET has over 700 individual and organizational members in 46 African countries in 5 sub-regions across Africa. The membership is open to African feminists who share the vision and are passionate in advancing women’s rights issues at national sub-regional, regional and global levels.
FEMNET’s vision is- ‘An African society where gender equality is achieved and women and girls enjoy all their rights and live in dignity.’
The overall goal is to dismantle all forms of patriarchy and oppressive systems that discriminate against women and girls.
A representative from Rwanda’s Oxfam also pledged her dedication to ensuring the partnership was a success. The partnership is an international confederation of 19 organization working hand-in-hand with 19 organizations and local partners in more than 90 countries.
“Oxfam recognizes that women’s voice, power and influence is critical to influencing a sustainable shift in community, national, regional and global policies and practices of both state and private sectors. This includes long-standing commitments to partnerships with women’s rights and feminist organizations and movements to challenge unequal power relations, exclusionary structures and institutions and to grow, test and build transformative leadership for a more stable, fairer world,” Oxfam said in a statement at the launch.
Nairobi Women Representative Hon. Esther Passaris, present at the launch, was passionate in her call for more inclusivity of women in African politics and urged all women to be courageous and take the lead in ensuring that there is equity and equality.
“The Vision I have is zero slums. Once we get rid of slums; we will get rid of diseases, we will get rid of waterborne diseases, we will have dignity and safety for the woman. Let’s eliminate slums so that no woman can live in those conditions,” she said.
Ministry of Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs Cabinet Secretary Margaret Kobia was also present at the event and had her chance to rally the attendees behind the prospect of a free and enlightened society. Danish ambassador Mette Knudsen was present as well the European Union Delegation to Kenya representative Hubert Perry.
Executive Director Memory Kachambwa outlined the efforts to push through all commitments and pronouncements on women’s rights in Africa. The member countries; Kenya, Mali, Mauritius, Rwanda, DRC, Ethiopia and Tunisia are working together to realize the dreams and aspirations of FEMNET. According to Mrs. Kachambwa, deliberate efforts are being made in the Democratic Republic of Congo to make FEMNET a success.
“The fight is for everyone. Let us all fight gender inequality. If we work together strategically, this will become a success,” she said.
Ever since our erstwhile colonial masters left, African countries have had problems addressing the question of inequality that has become so rooted within its societal setting. The heavy involvement of western powers in the fight has proved futile for long and perhaps it’s now time to come up with homegrown solutions. FEMNET represents the homegrown solutions that will foresee a complete turnaround in the fortunes of African women and cut the umbilical cord that connects her women to oppression and willful submission.
The European Union representative Hubert Perry vividly outlined her commitment to ensuring that women are protected and allotted the necessary tools to be fully functional in society. He said, “We should strategize and re-energize to ensure that the gender-related frameworks are beneficial to women in the societies.”