– Amplifying the voice of feminist movements in West africa

– Amplifying the voice of feminist movements in West africa

Equipop believes that fair and sustainable development for all can only be achieved through the fight for women’s rights. For example, it saw an obvious need for collaboration with West Africa’s feminist activists, so Equipop began a fruitful partnership in 2018 with representatives from West African women’s movements.

Young west african feminists: key actors

Every day in West Africa, feminist activists, groups, and committed movements work in their communities through social networks and national organizations to promote gender equality, fight gender-based violence, defend the right of women and girls to freely dispose of their bodies, and encourage young girls to demand their rights. Collaborating with these committed feminists and supporting them at different levels fits naturally with Equipop’s approach, one that supports local initiatives and focuses on women’s and young people’s civic and political participation.

It’s an opportunity to meet other feminist women, to learn from their experiences, and, especially, to jointly think about strategies that we can put in place to make our voices heard.Irmine Ayinhouton

Creating discussion spaces for these activists

Equipop wanted to bring together several feminist activists from Francophone West Africa because the organization recognizes the importance of strengthening relationships and solidarity between activists who face similar issues even though they live in different places with different capabilities and situations. Therefore, Equipop held a meeting and workshop in Ouagadougou from Novem-ber 27-30, 2018; it was attended by 28 feminist activists who hailed from Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal. During the meeting, these young people shared their experiences and commitments; they also organized into a larger group. The workshop enabled the activists to agree on the main messages that they would convey at the international level and in their countries. Attendees also participated in an Equipop Lab in order to design innovative and participatory mobilization actions, particularly around the 2019 G7.

Influencing g7 political representatives

After the resolutely feminist turn taken by the G7 in Canada, the G7 Summit held in France in 2019 presented an opportunity to make the voices of young women activists heard as they fight for their rights in their countries. Since November 2018, Equipop has helped these feminists carry out the action plan created during a workshop. Their social and political mobilization actions primarily aimed to persuade the representatives of G7 officials about the importance of women’s rights. The young feminists also wanted to raise awareness in West African and international communities about the importance of elevating issues related to women’s and girls’ rights in international negotiations in order to gain more commitments and funding.

Putting the voice of young feminists at the heart of decision making

Including feminist voices in public-policy design and making political commitments at local, regional, and international levels drives political and social transformation. These people’s voices, especially those from West Africa, are rarely taken into account and they are seldom invited to speak, even when the decisions made affect them.

My voice counts and the voice of my sisters counts. Listen to us, we have something to say about policies that affect us.Néné Fatou Maricou

One of Equipop’s priorities centers on restoring the ability of West Africa’s young feminists to speak about their experiences, needs, and demands during decision-making meetings and negotiations. During 2019, members of this group were able to speak at high-level events many times, such as during the Women 7 Summit in Paris in May 2019. They also met with key political figures; for instance, one member met with the G7 Sherpas in February. At each meeting, the young feminists conveyed messages for the group and spoke with one voice.