State of the African Women Project: Empowering Women Across Sub-Saharan Africa
The State of the African Woman (SoAW) campaign, a dynamic three-year advocacy, communication, and awareness-raising campaign funded by the European Union and led by a diverse consortium of partners, aimed at advancing the rights of women across sub-Saharan Africa. This unique coalition brought together youth-serving organizations, faith organizations, feminist groups and SRHR activists joined to shape the SoAW campaign at the global, regional, national and local level.
Results and Achievements
The SOAW campaign centered on strengthening Civil Society Organizations' (CSOs) contributions to the implementation of the AU Protocol on the Rights of Women (Maputo Protocol) and the Maputo Plan of Action (MPoA). Its remarkable achievements can be summarized through its intermediate objectives:
- Influenced Legal and Social Norms: The campaign successfully promoted greater transparency and public pressure on duty bearers, fostering a transformation in legal and social norms related to women's rights.
- Held Decision Makers Accountable: By amplifying the civil society voice and ensuring meaningful participation in decision-making processes, the campaign held policymakers accountable for their commitments to women's rights.
YWCA Kenya's role was pivotal in the SoAW campaign, with responsibilities including the coordination of 16 YWCAs across Africa, empowering 32 young women champions, capacity building for YWCA chapters, and supporting advocacy outreach events at the national level.
Project Coverage: The campaign focused across a broad spectrum, spanning countries such as Kenya, Ethiopia, Tanzania, Rwanda, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Nigeria, Uganda, Madagascar, Lesotho, The Gambia, Ghana, Burkina Faso, and Liberia.
The SoAW campaign aligned its activities with four key themes from the Maputo Protocol:
- Article 2: Elimination of Discrimination Against Women
- Article 5: Elimination of Harmful Practices: Focused on ending harmful practices like female genital mutilation and early child marriage.
- Article 14: Health and Reproductive Rights Highlights of these activities included capacity building for Member Associations, youth champions, establishing communication channels, and enhancing the #RightByHer hashtag for social media advocacy.
Youth Champions' Impact: Youth champions affiliated with YWCAs in Africa demonstrated significant influence:
- In Ghana and Lesotho, they used national television and radio interviews to advocate for the SoAW project, raising awareness about critical issues.
- In Ethiopia, Gambia, Malawi and Burkina Faso, social media groups on platforms like Telegram and Facebook expanded the campaign's reach.
- The effective use of the #RightByHer hashtag on social media facilitated advocacy efforts.
- In Kenya, a youth champion actively engaged in advocating against female genital mutilation (FGM) and policy change, particularly in regions with a high prevalence of FGM.
- Youth champions in Madagascar, Kenya, Nigeria, and Uganda leveraged school platforms, safe space forums, and national networks to challenge social norms and stimulate discussions on key project themes, including sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR).
As the project concluded in the year 2020, the legacy was one of progress and inspiration, Through the strategic initiatives of the State of the African Woman Campaign project, legal and social landscapes were shaped, youth empowered as champions to drive positive changewhere women's rights are not just protected but celebrated throughout the African continent.
Click below to read resources linked to the project;
Click below to view the State of The African Woman report;