Category Archives: Events

Join & Follow Panel Discussion: Implement NOW #WomensRights Commitments #26thAUSummit


African leaders have endorsed human rights in national, regional, continental and international instruments. However, the effective implementation of key AU human rights instruments, including the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights, by the majority of member states is still lagging behind the agreed targets. Upholding of human and women’s rights remains a responsibility of all stakeholders but most especially a primary responsibility of Governments who are the duty bearers. Thus the 2016 AU theme African Year of Human Rights, with specific focus on Women’s Rights” provides an opportunity for the African leaders with strong participation of civil society, especially African women and other actors to assess the implementation of these key instruments and redefine the future of the continent and its population – men and women, boys and girls.

You  Are  Invited to a Panel Discussion by FEMNET, SOAWR & MEWC


Civil Society Groups Call For Rural Women Not to be Neglected in the Implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals


On this International Day of Rural Women, we the undersigned organisations, call on African governments to ensure that rural women are a central focus in the implementation of the newly adopted sustainable development goals, including by addressing the social and cultural factors which prevent their access, control and use of land.

Today, 15 October, marks the sixth International Day of Rural Women. The day was established by the United Nations (UN) in 2008 to recognise the critical role and contribution of rural women, in improving food security and eradicating poverty. In two days, we commemorate the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. This year, the two international days fall just weeks after 193 member states of the UN unanimously adopted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – a set of 17 goals with specific targets aimed at, among other things, addressing poverty and increasing economic growth and prosperity, while protecting the environment. Of the numerous targets, three of these –1.4, 2.3 and 5.a – specifically relate to women’s access to land.

Currently, most African countries are rural in nature and it is estimated that 75% – 90% of land is held under traditional rules, customs and practices. Most of these traditional rules, customs and practices mean rural women can only access land through their relationships to men as wives, daughters and sisters. Sadly, the majority of African rural women lose their rights to maternal family land when they move to join their husbands upon marriage, and lose access to marital land upon divorce or death of the husband.

Discriminatory rules, customs and practices have a negative impact not only on African rural women, but the entire African continent. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), rural women in sub-Saharan Africa produce most of the food in the region and yet, due to discrimination, they neither own nor have rights to the land they cultivate.[i] This has negative implications for basic food production and the eradication of poverty. Unequal land rights further reinforce women’s secondary status within the community, perpetuate poverty and foster power imbalances.

African governments have legally and morally bound themselves, through a number of international instruments and policy frameworks, produced by both the African Union and the UN, to safeguard the rights of rural women to land on an equal basis to men. In restricting these rights many African countries are breaking international law.

A handful of countries in Africa have taken positive steps towards ending discrimination and protecting women’s land rights. For example, in the Constitution of Mozambique, women have equal rights to use and benefit from land and are joint owners of community title. Kenya’s new Constitution and land policy provides for joint ownership of marital property and equal succession rights for men and women.

However, despite these few positive steps, much more needs to be done. We, the undersigned organisations, call on African governments to ensure that rural women are not neglected in the implementation of the sustainable development goals and that these goals take into account human rights treaties entered into by the governments. Parliaments must act to ensure that laws guarantee women’s equal rights to access, use and control over land. Furthermore, courts must uphold basic principles of equality, including in relation to land rights for rural women.

To be effective, legislation and land reform policies should both focus on rural women’s right to the access, use and control of land, as well as the lack of knowledge, cultural and social factors that prevent rural women from obtaining secure rights to land. We therefore further call on governments to ensure such legislation and land reform policies are gender responsive and take into account women’s historically disadvantaged socio-economic position compared to men.


  • Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC)
  • Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA)
  • Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
  • Initiative for Gender Equality and Development in Africa (IGED Africa)
  • Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA)
  • Southern Africa SADC Gender Protocol Alliance
  • African women’s Development and Communications Network (FEMNET)
  • Association for Women, Law and Development (Associação, Mulher, Lei e Desenvolvimento, MULEIDE) – Mozambique
  • Pan African Positive Women’s Coalition-Zimbabwe (PAPWC-ZIM)
  • Echoes of Women in Africa Initiative (ECOWA) – Nigeria
  • Healing Hearts Widows Support Foundation – Nigeria
  • Women Advocates’ Research and Documentation Center (WARDC) – Nigeria
  • Namibia Women’s Health Network (NWHN) – Namibia
  • Empowered at Dusk Women’s Association (EADWA) – Uganda
  • Sonke Gender Justice – South Africa
  • Women and Law in Southern Africa, Lesotho (WLSA – Lesotho)
  • Zambia Land Alliance (ZLA) – Zambia
  • Legal Assistance Centre (LAC) – Namibia
  • Women and Law in Southern Africa, Zambia (WLSA – Zambia)
  • Foundation for Socio Economic Justice (FSEJ) – Swaziland
  • Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum – Zimbabwe
  • Women in Law and Development in Africa -West Africa Sub Regional Office (Wildaf – Wasro)
  • Federation of Women Lawyers, Lesotho (FIDA – Lesotho)
  • NGO Gender Co-ordination Network (NGOGCN) – Malawi
  • Women and Law in Southern Africa, Zimbabwe (WLSA – Zimbabwe)


For further information contact:

Brigadier Siachitema, Women’s Land and Property Rights Lawyer, Southern Africa Litigation Centre (SALC),, +2710 596 8538




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THEME: “Mobilization and Involvement of Health Personnel to Accelerate Zero Tolerance to Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting”.

On 6th February we stand in solidarity together with the people around the world who are observing this annual International Zero Tolerance Day to eradicate Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting. This day fosters awareness of the harmful effects of female genital mutilation/cutting and renews the call for communities to abandon this inhumane practice.

FGM/C refers to a procedure involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia. It is a practice that occurs across cultures and religions, although in fact no religion mandates the procedure. The practice is often performed and often using such instruments as broken glass, tin lids, scissors, unsterilized razors or surgical blades. According to World Health Organization, as many as 100 to 140 million girls and women worldwide currently live with the consequences of this dangerous practice.

Everyone must act jointly to abandon the practice, so that girls and their families who opt out do not become social outcasts. Communities working together to abandon FGM/C can ensure stronger, healthier futures for girls, young women, and their families. We all have an obligation to work together for the equality, well-being, and prosperity.

How to engage tomorrow: Use the hashtags #EndFGM #Zerotoleranceday #TogetherforZero add your voice to call for the abandonment of this harmful traditional practice.

UNCCD short writting-contest 2015



Theme: Land nurturing people nurturing life

The UNCCD is pleased to announce its first Short Writing Contest. The theme is ‘Land nurturing people nurturing life
  • How would you express your relationship with land in a poem?
  • ​What does land mean to you?
  • Do you know any proverb about land in your country? Is it still relevant in your today’s life?
We welcome all literary expressions and styles, from a very short Haiku-style to a short story of up to 500 words. Entries must be written in English.
There are two categories:
(1) University Students and General Public
(2) Children and Youth in High-School and Below.
The winner of the first category will receive US$500, the second US$300.
Please note that all shortlisted entries will be checked for plagiarism. Plagiarized works will be disqualified from the competition.
Deadline for receiving the application is 15 May 2015.
Please fill in the form which is available on this page, and send it either by:
Fax: +49 228 815 2898
Postal mail: UNCCD Library, UN Campus, PO Box 260129, 53153 Bonn, Germany
The winner will be announced on the UNCCD website on 17 June 2015, the World Day to Combat Desertification.




free web-based course by Gender Hub provides participants with a general grounding in the current concepts of governance from a gender perspective, and offers some examples and resources for applying these within key governance institutions, with a focus on governments, and in particular Nigeria.

The course has been designed for a broad range of people, including: gender focal points within ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), gender leads in Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), and those working in new and traditional media roles. However, anyone interested in understanding the challenges relating to gender and governance, such as non-gender specialist policy advisers, academics and students would also benefit.

Although the course is intended to be most useful for people in Nigeria, it could be valuable for people from any region. The course is short, self-paced, and facilitated, and completion is marked by a certificate award issued jointly by BRIDGE, the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), UK, and Gender Hub.

Application deadline: Jan 29th

Course runs: Feb 2nd to Mar 2nd

Cost: Free

Requirements: Access to computer, the internet, an email address, and a modern browser (e.g. Firefox, Chrome, etc)

Link to registration page, and further details:

CALL FOR GLOBAL WEEK OF ACTION October 11-18th #BringBackOurGirls NOW and ALIVE!


Bring Back Our Girls Placards_Page_06

October 14, 2014 makes it exactly six (6) months since 276 girls were abducted by the Boko Haram  sect  from their  school  – Government  Secondary  School,  Chibok,  Borno  State, Nigeria. The Boko Haram Sect  leader claimed responsibility for the mass kidnappings in a video where he informed the world that he plans to sell the girls into slavery. Till date, not one girl has been rescued, save for 57 girls who escaped on their own, while 219 girls still remain in captivity.

As the United Nations marks the International Day of the Girl Child on 11th October, we, the #BringBackOurGirls movement and the families of the abducted girls, are calling for a Global Week of  Action from 11th to 18th October 2014, to mobilize everyone around the world to demand for the immediate rescue of our Chibok girls and end this humanitarian tragedy.

It is undeniably apt that this year’s theme for United Nations International Day of the Girl Child: Empowering Adolescent Girls: Ending The Circle of Violence, coincides with this period when we all are still agitating for the immediate release of our innocent Chibok girls who are victims of the violence being perpetrated by the Boko Haram sect in Nigeria. These are adolescent girls who, against all odds, sought education in order to be empowered in their bid to become responsible leaders of the society. Our world must not forget them.

How can the world move on without 219 promising young women whose zeal for education should be an example for girls everywhere in the world. We cannot afford for girls and parents anywhere in the world to be forced to choose between education and personal safety.

We therefore make this global call to all political leaders, the United Nations, civil society groups, religious leaders, development partners, celebrities and all well-meaning individuals to come out en-masse during this Global Week of Action and raise their voices to demand renewed actions for the immediate rescue of our Chibok girls. We ask that various on-the- ground  activities  and  the  social  media  be  used  to  show  support  and  solidarity  for #ChibokGirls

We wish to further call on the Nigerian government and other Governments lending support to the rescue operation to intensify any actions already being taken to achieve quick result of the immediate rescue of the Chibok girls.

We encourage friends of our #chibokgirls around the world to hold vigils in Communities; and where possible at Nigerian Embassies in your countries. Please help spread the message to pupils and students in schools; To people at churches, mosques, and temples! Please call on your leaders to do everything possible to help #BringBackOurGirls NOW and ALIVE!!!

1.  Reverend Enoch Mark – parent of two girls in captivity
2.  Pindar Dibla – parent of a girl in captivity
3.  Ishaya Abana – parent of a girl in captivity
4.  Emmanuel Mutah – parent of a girl in captivity
5.  Ishaya Benawi – parent of a girl in captivity
6.  Oby Ezekwesili – co-convener []
7.  Maryam Uwais – co-convener []
8.  Hadiza Bala Usman – co-convener []
9.  Saudatu Mahdi – co-convener []
10. Jibrin Ibrahim –
11. Aisha Oyebode –
12. Betty Akeredolu –
13. Mojubaolu Olufunke Okome –


Add your voice to
Sample social media messages & targets

#Raising Awareness to Reduce the Burden of Mental Health Issues on Youth


By Bethseba Akoyo

The United Nation’s International Youth Day is celebrated on August 12th every year to acknowledge the efforts of the youth in society and foster an understanding of issues affecting the youth. This year’s theme of the International Youth Day is “Youth and Mental Health” under the motto “Mental Health Awareness”. The United Nations describes youth as individuals between the ages of 15 to 24; this description is different from some nations who view the youth as those aged between 15 years to 29 or 35 years. Regardless of the definition, youth are individuals who are in an age of transition between childhood to adulthood. During this transition, there are many significant decisions they have to make since they are faced with dilemmas that will shape their future. This age thus calls for a state of mental health and support which allows the youth to make better decisions about their wellness and that of the world at large. Mental health is a subject that gravely affects the youth as youth with mental health conditions experience a lot of discrimination. Currently, 20% of the world’s youth have a mental condition. Severe mental illnesses often begin before the age of 24 and they are characterized by psychiatric disorders which render the youth unable to make important decisions about their lives. Most of them even fall prey to suicide, which is ranked the third cause of death among youths in the globe. The common mental disorders that affect our youth are anxiety disorders, attention deficit, behavior disorders, eating disorders, schizophrenia and substance abuse. These disorders may however vary depending on the environment of an individual. The disorders are overarching affecting their general health, performance in school and work and their social lives.

There is need to protect the youth from mental disorders by giving them access to effective and modern mental health services that will not only give them the capability to better their present lives but also empower them to take charge of the future and use their ideas and talents to contribute to the development of the global society. Youth with mental health conditions should be empowered so that they can feel secure in society. The youth are our tomorrow’s leaders, activists, feminists and innovators. Investing in their mental health implies that we are investing in the future and securing a better life for future generations. We should foster mental health among youth with mental health problems through supporting their ideas and providing a platform through which they can express these ideas without intimidation. The youth also require access to comprehensive education that educates them how to solve problems facing them such as hunger and poverty, conflict and unemployment. As we observe this year’s Youth International Day, let us also keep in mind that youth with mental health conditions form a significant part of society; respecting and advocating for their rights forms a strong background from which they can rise up and take part in the development of society.

We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future – Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Bethseba Akoyo is an Intern at the African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET). You can connect with her on twitter @bethbelle and email