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RALF Newsletter: The Year In Review

2020! What an incredibly difficult year – for organizing, for wellbeing, for love, for connection, for life! It’s no small feat that we have made it to the end of another year. In gratitude and remembrance we spend this last instalment of the RALF Newsletter looking back on what we have accomplished in 2020.

The African Feminist Standpoint 

This year we launched two amazing issues of the African Feminist Standpoint, steadily and progressively situating ourselves, solidifying our foundation and continuing to establish our rhythm  in producing and curating an online platform dedicated to producing knowledge and content that speaks to who we are, where we come from and the feminist futures we are working to build. 

In Issue #2 we explored a topic close to our hearts, one that speaks to a feminist politic that inspires, guides, informs and affirms our work: Autonomy. 

In Issue #3, on Feminist notions on wellness and wellbeing, we explored our struggles, as queer, Black, Africans trying to organise in the contexts we do, in the iteration of structure we do while maintaining our grasp on community, on kindness, on love and on seeing each other as people first. 

And now introducing the call for submissions for AFS Issue #4

Feminists, activists and women human rights defenders working in countries in the Global South have been struggling with and challenging systemic and institutional oppression, including crisis in governance, patriarchy and heteronormativity, climate crises, neoliberalism and globalisation. These crises have resulted in economic disparities, inadequate/failing infrastructures, such as limited access to healthcare, clean water and electricity.

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, calling out violence, even as it hides in plain sight. 

In light of this CAL launched a 3 part webinar series during #16DaysofActivism2020 called: In Plain Sight: Discussing Violence, Power and Wellbeing

In the spirit of continuing these conversations and discussions we are so excited to launch the call for submissions for Issue 4 of the African Feminist Standpoint: Concerning Violence

The majority of women and gender non-conforming people in Africa face enormous constraints to their freedom and autonomy, in relation to their everyday lives, decision making, and bodies. Our freedom to choose and decide, to give and withhold consent and to exercise our individuality and collective sense of self is deeply regulated and policed with punishments and sanctions applied to those who disobey, resist and refuse to comply with the related sexuality and gender norms.  

We also realise that violence against women and other marginalized communities extends beyond inter and intra-personal relationships and is imbedded and entrenched in the structures of social life and institutions that govern such.

Feminist activists are constantly expanding the discourse on violence to question the organisation of society, to question social norms and values and to question some of the ways violence is being used even in the spaces that purport to dismantle it. 

We invite you to explore and document with us the experiences and analyses of violence in all spheres of our lives. 

To read the full call for submissions, click here

In Advocacy

This year we participated in:

  • UN Human Rights Council’s 43rd, 44th and 45th sessions, and
  • African Commission on Human and Peoples’ 66th and 67th ordinary sessions

In our regional and international advocacy work CAL endeavours:

  • To articulate CAL politics and the lived realities of women, testing and building support for key CAL ideas and narratives (in particular around RALF, autonomy, access to health and women human rights defenders)
  • To strengthen CAL secretariat, members and partners’ understanding of the scope, strengths, dynamics and limitations of the international human rights system and the various actors that engage there, and identifying possible avenues for future advocacy there and elsewhere.
  • To contribute to the global feminist and sexual rights movement.

To read all statements delivered this year, click here.


Our research team, along with Feminist Collectives based in Sub-Saharan Africa, produced the following pieces of research:

The Autonomy Project: A report on Violence Against Women & Women’s Political Participationin Rwanda, Benin & Tunisia

Masakhane case studies on collective organizing

Masakhane Project: What Works

In articles

This year we have lent our voices to a number of topics, in a variety of spaces. Some of these include:

The doors to a feminist future must remain open

Queer in the Struggle: The politics of inclusion in protest movements

What is autonomy really going to cost us?

The UN Human Rights Council Resolution on racial discrimination and police brutality

Remembering Radical African Feminist Voices

This year we launched #RAFV: Remembering African Feminist Voices. A creation of the research team at CAL, RAVF is a project aimed at embracing African feminist voices by amplifying the works of women and non-binary persons who, in their unique ways, have explored African feminism. 

One of the basic tenets of feminism is to recognise the voices and labour of women who throughout history, have often been silenced and erased by patriarchy. With this in mind, this project seeks to play an active role in amplifying the various ways in which feminism has been explored through theory, literature, art and many more forms. The aim is to celebrate African feminism and African voices and to document their work for the sake of remembrance and knowledge preservation. 

#RAFV Issue 1 featured feminists who have contributed to the study of and feminist analyses of sexualities 

#RAFV Issue 2 featured feminist activists who have made powerful contributions to the fight again gender-based violence. 


During #16dayOfActivism2020 we embarked, through the, In Plain Sight webinar series, on a conversation about violence and its manifestations in our personal lives, movement spaces, our organisations and spaces meant to protect and promote human rights.

In Plain Sight endeavoured to: 

  • Make feminist contributions and expansions to the discourse on violence
  • Support and participate in existing and emerging  online communities of activists that can enrich the public discourse on VAWG, Well-being, and Advocacy
  • Center the voices of (queer) feminist activists, WHRDs, academics, artists, and organisers in the Violence Against Women and Girls narrative. 

The conversation was not limited to the webinar. Our research, media and advocacy departments added to the discussion via:
Queer in the Struggle: The politics of inclusion in protest movements

And that’s it from us for 2020!