RALF Newsletter: Research and Knowledge Production

Welcome to this year’s edition of the Research and Knowledge Management newsletter for 2021.

Our core research objectives at CAL are to produce knowledge that strengthens feminist  advocacy and activism on the continent and to contribute to increasing feminist research output in Africa. Our research focus is on exploring and examining cross-cutting themes and issues within gender and sexuality from a feminist lens. Specifically, we have worked and continue to work on such topics as, Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR), violence against women and girls (VAWG), women’s political participation, feminist leadership and movement building, intersectionality, economic justice; and feminist analyses and perspectives of care and well-being. Our research analysis is underscored by a commitment to an analysis of intersecting forms of oppressions, and how women’s autonomy is denied or obstructed by hegemonic power.

We are excited to share with you this month the following products to come out of our research department this year:

  • Western and Central African Knowledge Project Reports
  • Politics of money in feminist activism: A Pan-African Feminist Lesbian Exploration 
  • CAL@ CSW65: Women’s Political Participation and LGBTIQ Inclusion in feminist and Social movements 
  • CAL @ the Global Youth Summit: LGBTQIA+ Feminist Advocacy and Wellbeing during COVID-19 and beyond – Insights from Africa
  • The Autonomy Project: A report on Violence Against Women and Women’s Political Participation in Rwanda, Benin and Tunisia

Launching the Western & Central African Knowledge Project Reports

In 2015 CAL undertook a mapping exercise of the gender and sexual rights work done in the West and Central African (WACA) region, focusing primarily on lesbian, bisexual and queer (LBQ) women. This exercise was conducted through a consultative process with a few activists, collectives and networks in the WACA region to establish an understanding of what work existed and what support was needed to strengthen the work of the gender and sexual rights activists in the region. CAL extended its work from Southern Africa into WACA with the objective of both growing and strengthening the feminist network as well as the gender and sexual rights movements on the continent. After a series of relationship building activities, solidarity visits, several workshops and events, a WACA network was formed to develop a plan of action.  

CAL and the WACA network were primarily concerned with the repressive political, socio-economic and cultural dynamics in the region. Movements concerned with gender and sexuality in West and Central Africa, particularly those whose mandate includes LGBTQ communities, face many difficulties due to religious fundamentalisms, repressive religious and customary beliefs which permeate sexist and patriarchal notions, secular law, scarce resources, and income inequality. 

The CAL WACA Knowledge project was thus developed to strengthen the WACA network through capacity development, creating spaces for learning and strategising while simultaneously supporting collectives’ research and knowledge production projects. The WACA knowledge project was funded by the Foundation for a Just Society (FJS)  and was implemented between 2019-2021. 

The WACA knowledge project culminated in the publication of four reports as follows:

  1. Report on Violence in Queer Women Couples in Burkina Faso, Cameroon and Côte D’Ivoire
  2. Procreation in LBQ Communities in Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Togo and Burkina Faso,
  3. Women’s access to employment in Benin,
  4. Access to justice for LBTQ women and other vulnerable women and girls in Liberia

Politics of money in feminist activism: A Pan-African Feminist Lesbian Exploration

Welcome to part 1 of the Politics of Money in Feminist Activism. This is the beginning of a series of articles that have been developed as a result of CAL’s ongoing process of shaping an organisational standpoint of money in feminist activism. Some of the questions we grapple with include: 

  • What is our perspective of money? Its use, generation, distribution, and what is its relationship to power.
  • What is our contention about money in the context of feminist activism and human rights advocacy? 
  • Who should we be getting money from?
  • Who should we not be getting money from?

Click here to read part 1

CAL @ CSW65: Women’s Political Participation & Reflecting on World YWCA Webinar on LGBTIQ Inclusion in feminist and social movements

During the 65th session of the Commission on the Status of Women, which was held in March 2021, CAL participated in a panel on LGBTI inclusion in feminist and social movements’

“We haven’t seen a response that caters specifically to the heightened needs of those living in the margins, for instance when we’re told that hospitals are overwhelmed by Covid-19 cases and are full, it is not clear what provisions are made when women need sexual and reproductive health services and care.”

Read about the side event here

CAL at the Global Youth Summit

On the 24th of April 2021 CAL was invited to facilitate and participate in the Global Youth Summit (GYS) which ran from the 23rd to the 25th of April 2021. CAL, in conjunction with four phenomenal African feminists, moderated by Varyanne Sika (Research and Knowledge Production Manager at CAL), hosted a breakout session titled, “LGBTQIA+ Feminist Advocacy and Well-being during COVID-19 and beyond: Insights from Africa.

Click here to access the recording of the session and to read the summary. 

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

CAL is pleased to launch ‘The Autonomy Project: A Report on Violence against Women (VAW) and Women’s Political Participation in Rwanda, Benin & Tunisia.’ The publication looks into the landscape of violence against women and women’s political participation in the three focus countries.

About the report:

This report was prepared as part of the Autonomy Project, and was supported by the African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF). The research aims of the expansion of the Autonomy Project included working with feminist activists and organisations in Benin, Rwanda and Tunisia; to establish a knowledge base that would inform the work of shifting public and political conversations on gender and women’s sexuality to encompass the extent to which women’s freedom and bodily autonomy is constrained

Click here to read the full report [in English and French]