Category Archives: Freedom of Information




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:




June 25th, 2014

We representatives of women’s rights, faith and community-based, civil society organizations, media and government from over 14 countries across the continent convened to deliberate on ‘Strengthening African Women’s Voices in the Post-2015 Processes’and the Africa We Want and Need.

We recognize that the Common African Position (CAP) has strong commitments to ensure that “No person – regardless of ethnicity, gender, geography, disability, race or other status – is denied universal human rights and basic economic opportunities.” African Heads of State specifically highlighted the inextricable link between gender equality, women’s rights, women’s empowerment and Africa’s structural transformation.

Within the Post-2015 global process, this recognition has led to a dedicated goal on Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment. For gender equality and women’s empowerment to be truly transformative, it must be anchored in a human rights framework. In addition to a stand-alone goal, it is essential that women’s rights be a cross-cutting priority within the entire Sustainable Development Goals framework.

The prioritization of women’s rights will ensure that spatial, political, social and economic inequalities are addressed. Furthermore, the redistribution of wealth, power, opportunities and resources is critical for addressing prevalent inequalities between men and women, within and between countries.  In addition, development cannot be achieved without peace, security and accountable governance as clearly articulated in CAP.

We therefore call for your support on the following:-

a)      A transformative goal on gender equality, women’s rights and women’s empowerment;

b)      Recognition, reduction and redistribution of unpaid care work – the burden of care falls disproportionately on women and girls and must be shared among men and women; the State; Private Sector, Communities;

c)       Eliminate all forms of violence and discrimination against women and girls – in policies, laws and practices. This includes the elimination of harmful practices including FGM and early, child and forced marriage;

d)      Universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights; which would address unacceptably high levels of maternal mortality, teenage pregnancies, transmission of STIs, HIV/AIDS

e)     Access to, control over and ownership of resources and assets including land, energy, credit, information and technology;

f)   Mobilize domestic resources through innovative financing such as curbing illicit financial flows, eliminating tax havens, instituting progressive taxation, gender-responsive budgets, reallocating military expenditures and eliminating corruption;

g)    Ensuring gender parity in decision-making, transparent and accountable governance at all levels

h)     Addressing peace as stand-alone goal and also ensure its mainstreaming throughout all other goals with an emphasis on the principles of good governance and rule of law.

We urge you to keep the spaces open for meaningful CSO engagement in all stages of the formulation, implementation and monitoring of the Post 2015 development framework. We also emphasize the need to mobilize the maximum available resources tomeet existing human rights obligations and ensure the full enjoyment of economic and social rights, following principles of Common but Differentiated Responsibilitiesnon-retrogression for the diversity of actors engaged in development, especially women’s organizations and movements. As CSO representatives and other stakeholders, we are committed to work in partnership with African governments to ensure the realization of the above to deliver an inclusive, participatory and equitable Africa we want and need – not only for the next 15 years but for generations to come. Let this be our legacy.

For more information, contact:


Breaking Down Silos – in Post-2015 and Beyond


FEMNET-AMWA-meeting-e1404324294838-870x532By Muchiri Nyaggah*

In their paper The Benefits of a Big Tent: Opening Up Government in Developing Countries, J Goldstein and J Weinstein argue for a “big tent”; one term under which open data and open government communities can pursue a common goal. I believe the term is fitting for the post-2015 processes and the unprecedented opportunity they present stakeholders in the development sector.

The development sector is peppered with silos and silos-within-silos as stakeholders carve out niches and ring-fence them with descriptive names and jargon to go with it. We have the transparency movement, the accountability movement, the human rights movement, the feminist movement, the climate change movement, the environmental protection movement, the access to information movement….the list could, quite literally, go on and on. A cursory glance through the recent zero draft from the co-chairs of the Open Working Group on Sustainable Development Goals shows many of these constituencies are represented across the 17 focus areas. Indeed their input, especially through the Major Groups, is documented in Rio+20 and throughout the 12 OWG sessions that resulted in the current zero draft. When attempts to mainstream certain aspects such as gender equality, women’s rights or even peace and security are made, it introduces some challenges at implementation and oversight (the latter a role played by among others civil society). This is because those advocating for accountability and public participation, for instance, now have to understand the challenges of doing so in fragile states. Those working in open government need to remain aware of the need to be gender responsive in design of initiatives. Those working in peace and security need to be aware of the issues related to illicit financial flows and international trade. These are just three examples of what can become a complex programming challenge.

I recently had the honour of participating in a strategy meeting organised by FEMNET, FOWODE, Ipas, Akina Mama Wa Afrika and the Government of Uganda on Strengthening African Women’s Voices in the Post-2015 Process. Held in Kampala, Uganda the meeting was opened by the Minister for Gender, Labour and Social Development Hon. Mary Karooro Okurut and brought together participants working in women’s rights, women’s empowerment and gender equality in Africa. There were participants from organisations working in political empowerment, open government, sexual & reproductive health rights, governments and media. The value of bringing together stakeholders from such a broad cross-section of civil society and the public sector was, in my opinion, immense as many who attended can attest. This was, for me, a practical illustration of how the Post-2015 process has provided a big tent for the development sector.

In appropriating the term “big tent” to the post-2015 context I hope to conceptualise the post-2015 process as an opportunity which stakeholders can leverage to tackle the grand challenge of poverty eradication as a single global community effort. We need to ensure none of the issues we deem critically important for Africa’s development goals are left unarticulated in the final post-2015 development framework.

The efforts of FEMNET, FOWODE, Akina Mama Wa Afrika and others to bring together those who are not normally part of these conversations is laudable. It’s efforts like these that we at Open Institute are keen to catalyse and promote because of their potential to perforate the silos and release new insights across constituencies. We look forward to collaborating with others under this tent as we continue to encourage our governments to maintain ambitious and transformative goals in the post-2015 agenda.

A key output of this meeting was the development and publication of a position statement by civil society organisations encouraging governments to support a transformative goal on gender equality, women’s rights and women’s empowerment among seven other issues. You can find the Kampala Position Statement on 2015 here on the FEMNET website.

*Muchiri Nyaggah is the Deputy Executive Director of the Open Institute. Connect with him @Muchiri or



Reeyot-Alemu-prisonA teacher and newspaper columnist, Reeyot Alemu has been imprisoned in Ethiopia since June 21, 2011 on trumped up terrorism charges in reprisal for her columns, published in independent Amharic-language newspapers, which offered blunt but thoughtful critiques of power abuse, corruption, and injustice under Ethiopia’s ruling party, the EPRDF, which has ruled the Horn of Africa country since 1991.

Reeyot is the 2013 recipient of the UNESCO World Press Freedom Prize, the 2013 recipient of a Courage in Journalism Award and was a finalist of the 2013 Sakharov Prize for freedom of thought. She is the subject of a global campaign.  Her case has been championed by Christiane Amanpour, and Swedish journalist Martin Schibbye groups like the International Women’s Media Foundation and Safe World for Women, which has launched a petition calling for her release. 

She was first sentenced to 14 years in prison. She appealed the conviction and the Supreme Court reduced her sentence to 5 years, acquitting her of the terrorism charges. She filed a last appeal to the Court of Cassation, but it was denied.

Reeyot’s Pending Appeal Before African Commission

In late 2013, she filed a complaint against her government and the law used to jail her at the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights. Reeyot’s indomitable spirit and refusal to compromise on her beliefs and principles under intimidation and pressure has unnerved authorities.

She has subsequently been threatened to be put in solitary confinement, and has been arbitrarily denied access to her fiancé, sister and friends since September.

Reeyot’s Deteriorating Health

Reeyot’s health has deteriorated while in prison. She developed a breast tumor and underwent surgery in jail. However, Ethiopian federal prison authorities returned her to her cell immediately after the surgery, denying her adequate post-surgery care at a proper medical facility. She has since been suffering from a bleeding breast.


 Today is Reeyot’s 33rd birthday. Use this moment to  take action:

  • Sign the petition urging the UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression to compel the Ethiopian government to grant Reeyot adequate medical care and free her
  • Donate to the legal defense fund of the Media Legal Defence Initiative, Reeyot’s lawyers at the African Commission
  • Use the hashgtag #ReeyotAlemu to tweet in support of Reeyot
  • Share Reeyot’s story with colleagues and friends and urge them to take action

Access to Information Important for Women’s Rights Advocacy


Access to Information Important for Women’s Rights
By Carlyn Hambuba
There is no question that access to information is critical for enabling citizens to exercise their voice, to effectively monitor and hold government to account, and to enter into informed dialogue about decisions which affect their lives says, African Women and Child Feature Service Executive Director Rosemary. Ms Okello was speaking this morning when she addressed the Pan Africa conference on Access to Information which is taking place at the Cape Town International convention Centre in South Africa.

She cited examples how women have used information for advocacy and create transformation in their society such as in Mali where young women contributed to stop of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) through use of ICTs. In Uganda the women used ICTs to bring to attention the conflict in the North of the country. While in Kenya, GBV campaign has been enhanced though the use of ICTs and access to relevant information.

Ms. Okello noted that the current modernisation of communication tools especially the use of ICTs has enhanced access to information and also enabled advocacy to widened space for dialogue especially by women. “The dawning of the information age has presented many new opportunities for social development. The use of ICTs in advocacy has helped even the marginalized communities to become integrated members of civil society by partaking in online discussions, forming online networks, and by accessing information that is crucial to their human development.” Said Ms.Okello.

According to Ms Okello, access to information has increased women’s awareness of their civic rights and responsibilities; as well as increases the pool of informed women who can participate in the electoral process as candidates and voters. Additionally, Access to information increases women’s representation in decision-making positions in the public and private sectors. She further noted that access to information increases community members’ control of the electoral process and promote the principles of free and fair elections and also helps in creating awareness of the virtues of accountability, transparency, and good governance.

Literate Democracy/La Democratie Alphabetisee



International Literacy Day was commemorated on the 8th of September. However over 215 million people in Africa are not literate, of whom over 134 million are women and over 51 million are youth. What does this mean for meaningful engagement in the political process, and thus the advancement and realization of democracy on the Continent?

Article 43 of the Africa Charter on Democracy, Elections & Governance (2007) says:

1. State Parties shall endeavor to provide free and compulsory basic education to all, especially girls, rural inhabitants, minorities, people with disabilities and other marginalized social groups.

2. In addition, State Parties shall ensure the literacy of citizens above compulsory school age, particularly women, rural inhabitants, minorities, people with disabilities, and other marginalized social groups.

In commemoration of Democracy Day
September 15th, 2011



La Journée Internationale de l’Alphabétisation fut commémorée le 8 septembre. Cependant plus de 215 millions de gens dans toute l’Afrique  sont analphabètes, dont plus de 134 millions sont des femmes et plus de 51 millions sont des jeunes. Que signifie ceci pour la collaboration significative au processus politique, et donc pour les progrès et la concrétisation de la démocratie sur le continent?

L’Article 43 de la Charte africaine sur la Démocratie, les Elections & la Gouvernance (2007) stipule:

1. Les Etats Partis s’efforceront de fournir gratuitement et de façon obligatoire  l’éducation de base pour tout le monde, spécialement pour les filles, les habitants des zones rurales, les minorités, les personnes handicapées et les autres groupes sociaux marginalisés.

2. En plus, les Etats Partis veilleront sur l’alphabétisation des citoyens ayant dépassé l’âge de scolarisation obligatoire, en particulier les femmes, les habitants des zones rurales, les minorités, les personnes handicapées, et les autres groupes sociaux marginalisés.

En commémoration de la Journée de la Démocratie
Le 15 septembre 2011

World Literacy Day


World Literacy Day

By Ruth Owino

“Literacy is the best remedy’’

Today 8th September is International literacy day. The day is set aside to raise people’s awareness of and concern for literacy issues in the world. This year’s International Literacy Day focuses on the link between literacy and peace. International Literacy Day is held on 8th September each year, to remind the international community of the status of literacy and adult learning globally. In celebrating this day, UNESCO is awarding the international Confucius and King Sejong literacy prizes to projects in Burundi, Mexico, the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the United States of America.

The UNESCO’s E9 initiative is conducting an international conference on Women’s Literacy for Inclusive and Sustainable Development from 8 to 10 September, in India.

According to data from UNESCO’s Institute for Statistics, 793 million adults – most of them girls and women – are illiterate. A further 67 million children of primary school age are not in primary school and 72 million adolescents of lower secondary school age are also missing out their right to an education.  South and West Asia account for more than half (51,8%) the world’s adult illiterate population, ahead of sub-Saharan Africa (21,4%), East Asia and the Pacific (12,8%), the Arab States (7,6%), Latin America and the Caribbean (4,6%), North America, Europe and Central Asia (2%).

For more information visit the UNESCO Website Below