Gender-Based Violence (GBV), as defined by the United Nations (UN), refers to harmful acts that are meted out against an individual on the basis of their gender identity or biological sex. These acts include, but are not limited to, verbal, sexual, emotional, economic and psychological abuse. Women disproportionately experience higher levels of violence due to the grave inequalities that persist as a result of patriarchy, misogyny and unequal power structures that manifest in varying but equally violent ways. Globally, it is estimated that 35% of women have experienced physical, sexual and/or intimate partner violence (IPV) in their lifetime. In Sub-Saharan Africa, research indicates that 44% of women between the ages of 15-49 have experienced IPV while 14% of women in the same age group have experienced non-intimate partner violence. What is chillingly clear is that women in Africa are exposed to violence at a staggering rate.
In this special edition of Remembering African Feminist Voices (RAFV), and in recognition of the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence (GBV), we dedicate this insert to the voices that have taken a stand against all forms of violence against women and girls across the continent through various forms of activism and protest. We stand with these voices in solidarity and in the hopes that one day, ALL women and young girls will live in a world that is equitable, just, free and devoid of all forms of violence.
The Feminist Coalition (Nigeria)
Formed in July 2020, the Feminist Coalition relentlesstly aims to combat injustice in Nigeria through social media organisation, fundraising and peaceful protests. At the wake of the #EndSARS movement – a collective call by Nigerian youth and women to disband, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) following years of sexual, physical violence and intimidation meted against Nigerian civilians – the Feminist Coalition mobilised to raise funds that went to footing medical bills of injured protestors, paid for legal fees of peaceful protestors who were unlawfully imprisoned, and provided basic amenities such as food, water and masks.
The founding members of the Feminist Coalition are:
Damilola Odufuwa, Odunayo Eweniyi, Layo Ogunbanwo, Ozzy Etomi, Ire Aderinokun, Fakhrriyyah Hashim, Oluwaseun Ayodeji Osowobi, Jola Ayeye, Laila Johnson-Salami, Karo Omu, Obiageli Ofili Alintah, Tito Ovia, Kiki Mordi
Crown the Women – South Sudan (CREW)
*Trigger warning: sexual violence
Following the gang rape of an 8 year old girl by three men in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, women, activists and other protestors took to the streets in May to peacefully protest against the abhorrent levels of sexual abuse and rape culture within the country. At the forefront of such protests was Crown the Women (CREW), a non-profit organization that is run by women. Through protests, webinars, trainings and civic engagement, the organization is committed to the empowerment of young women and girls with full recognition that there is a dire need for the realisation of women’s equality and equity. The organization additionally strives for the enhancement of women’s rights, their security as well as their basic needs.
Women’s Manifesto Movement (Malawi)
A Malawian lobby group, Women’s Manifesto Movement, staged a series of protests across Blantyre during the first week of October. The group’s grievance was with the recently elected President Lazarus Chakwera, who had failed to adhere to the Gender Equality Act of 2013 which mandates a 60:40 representation of either gender in public office appointments. Soon into his tenure, the President appointed a mere four (4) women to his 31 member parliament and additionally appointed a meagre 20% of women to 54 boards of public institutions in Malawi.
Through nation-wide marches, the Women’s Manifesto Movement aimed to take a stance and protest against systemic and discriminatory public appointments that are detrimental to women’s participation in public life and within the political sphere. This protest was especially important for re-affirming that women deserve to participate in politics and occupy positions of power following the President’s assertion that there were not ‘enough qualified’ women to lead.
We recognize, applaud and value the concerted, collective efforts of all movements. Above all, we stand in solidarity, even beyond 16 days of activism against gender based violence.