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Feminists in West Africa seek protection of women’s rights

Participants at the workshop

About 30 women feminists from the West Africa sub-region have resolved to bridge the divides between the young and older generations of feminists to effectively advance women’s rights, gender equality and achieve gender justice in the sub-region.

They made the resolution in Abuja at a two-day workshop on West Africa Intergenerational Feminist Forum organised by the West Africa Society Institute, WACSI in collaboration with Baobab for women’s Human Rights with the theme “Building Collective Power for gender equality and Justice”

In Africa, Feminists and Feminist Organisations have been critical agents in influencing policy change and development in driving women’s rights and gender equality for the overall development of the continent.

Over the years, West African feminists have made progress in this regard, however, due to the intersectionality and multiple voices advocating for the rights and equal representation of women, it has become fundamental to create a platform for feminists from different generations to connect and strengthen collaboration to achieve a common goal.

The Executive Director, West Africa Civil Society Institute, Mrs. Nana Afadzinu explained that the gains women have made in west Africa was gradually dwindling thus the need to encourage sharing of ideas and strategies between the younger and older generations for sustainable progress.

“It is so critical for us to interrogate why and look at what are the strategies that we can use, it may not be the old strategies, it may have to be a combination of the old and new. We also need fresh ideas that why we need the younger generations who are using technology. And we cannot make any progress if we don’t come together and bridge those gaps in-between generations” she said

The Executive Director Baobab for women’s Human Rights, Mrs. Bunmi Dipo-Salami explained that women groups and organisations in west Africa must have a united front to push regional bodies like the African Union and ECOWAS to hold members countries accountable for women’s right.

“We have the Maputo Protocol that takes care of everything across Africa. If we have that instrument available to us, we have the Africa Commission, we have the ECOWAS but we are not making use of those organs, we are not holding them accountable because we need to hold on to them for them to hold on to their member states” she said  

Views of Participants

Some participants, Adama Dicko from Mali and Rissi Assani from Ghana said the status of feminist movement in their individual countries was growing. However, there is a need for collaboration and women’s solidarity across West African countries to strengthen internal advocacy.

The Executive Secretary, Independent Commission for Peace and National Cohesion, Sierra Leone, Hawa Samai said the effective partnership with the male gender was critical in advancing the feminist movement for women’s rights in west Africa.

The outcome of the forum is expected to improve understanding of the state of feminism agenda and its future direction in West Africa and establish mechanisms and avenues for stronger collaboration between the younger and older generations of feminists towards a strengthened feminist and gender agenda.

Reporting by Aziztu Sani, editing by Daniel Adejo