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RALF Newsletter: 16 Days of Activism

Every year, we join our sisters and siblings in the struggle all over the world to campaign for 16 days against gender-based violence and to end violence against women, and this year is no  different. We kicked off our campaign earlier this month with a webinar series that continues to build on the work we have been conducting this year on the issues of autonomy, wellbeing, Violence against Women (VAW) and women’s political  participation.While 2020 has been an incredibly difficult year for organizing, requiring us to radically change, adapt and reassess our plans and systems of engagement, feminists have continued to agitate and to give critical and necessary input into how the world should be moving forward in light of changing realities.

Labour and Wellness

The Global 16 days campaign in 2020 will focus on amplifying the voices of women workers in the informal economy “while continuing to call for the ratification of ILO Convention 190 and [an] end to all forms of the GBV in private and public spaces”. CAL, through its latest issue of the African Feminist standpointand its research with collectives in Benin, Rwanda and Tunisia, has focused a lot of its thinking this year on the discourse of wellbeing and wellness and its intersection with the various  spheres of our lives.These 16 days we invite you to come and reflect with us on what well-being means when intersected with questions and ideas surrounding women’s labour, activism, and the world of (informal & formal) work. See how to take action below.

Autonomy and Freedom

Most women and gender diverse people in Africa still face enormous constraints to our freedom and autonomy. In these 16 days we will continue to amplify the voices of women and gender diverse people on the continent who fight tirelessly to gain control over their bodies and lives. The right to bodily autonomy cannot be divorced from the fundamental rights to freedom from violence and disease, hunger, poverty and inequality. 

As the COVID-19 pandemic has imposed lockdowns and restrictions of movement on everyone, it has particularly impacted the lives of  women and queer people on the continent. We have seen with lockdowns a  well documented increase in cases of gender-based violence. Lockdowns have also exacerbated existing problems restricting women and queer people’s freedom to choose and to decide – limiting access to already poor or insufficient sexual and reproductive health services, and diminishing income opportunities.

We demand for this campaign, as well as every day of the year:

South South Solidarities

29 years ago, a group of visionary feminists started what would become the longest campaign to end violence against women – the 16 Days of Activism Campaign. However, there has been an increase in state-sponsored violence, interpersonal and intimate partner violence and gender-based violence since the beginning of the campaign 29 years ago. 2020 has also seen an increase in violence in all regions of the Global South as a direct result of COVID-19 and lockdown regulations.

Women, queer and gender diverse people have experienced violence while doing the work of caring for families; violence by the state and non-state actors through confiscation and destruction of wares and produce (in informal trade) and violence by state and non-state actors against women human rights defenders who have been protesting femicides, police brutality, land grabs and climate crises and legislation criminalising abortion. 

In this context, CAL, along with the Sexual Rights Initiative and our partners AkahatáCREA and The Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights will be hosting the second webinar in the In Plain Sight Webinar Series.

This conversation will take a look at how feminists, activists and women human rights defenders working in countries in the Global South are challenging systemic and institutional oppression, including crisis in governance, patriarchy and heteronormativity, climate crises, neoliberalism and globalisation. 

We will unpack:

  • the fragility of the gains made on women’s rights, 
  • the need for solidarity, partnership and allyship and 
  • the need for us as feminists, activists and women human rights defenders to think more critically about the role of regional and international human rights bodies in furthering violence through their complicity and duplicity.

You can register for webinar 2 here.

Take Action!

Share with us what your thoughts on wellness and wellbeing are by drawing an image map! Throughout the 16 days  we will be collecting and sharing maps of wellness through our social media  accounts. Get in touch with us: email twitterfacebook.

Examples of image maps:

Join us online on Facebook and Twitter using the hashtags #ConcerningViolence and #16days and share with us what are the main concerns and issues you face where you are on the issues of autonomy, wellbeing, VAW and women’s political  participation.
Save the date!

Join us for a tweetchat on 10 December 2020, International Human Rights Day, at 14:00 CAT . More details about this event will follow in the coming days.

Join us for the these upcoming webinars!

30 November 2020:
South South Dialogue: Exposing the violence of human rights mechanisms
4 December 2020:
Violence Against Women and Girls and Women’s Political Participation in Rwanda, Benin and Tunisia Report Dissemination