Group Calls for Sensitisation of Women Rights, Inclusion in Governance

Group Calls for Sensitisation of Women Rights, Inclusion in Governance

  • A group of African feminist and human rights activists has called on the leadership of African nations to champion the course of gender equality
  • They said feminism is not a fight against men but a movement that seeks to help women to discover their abilities when given opportunities at the top levels of the social system
  • For some of them, the agitation for women's rights and gender equality should not be handled with levity

FCT, Abuja - A Pan-African group of 17 feminists, Nala Feminist Collective (Nalafem) has called on the African continent to embrace the tenets of sensitising women and girls about feminism and women's rights.

Founder of Nalafem, Aya Chebbi who also doubles as the first African Union envoy on youth made this call on Friday, July 1 during a press briefing at the Ladi Kwali Hall, Sheraton Hotel, Abuja.

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NALA Feminist Collective
The press conference was chaired by Aya Chebbi (Founder of Nala Collective) alongside Rosebell Kagumire , Rose Wachuka Macharia, and Oluwaseun Ayodeji Osowobi. Photo: @_Nalafem
Source: Twitter

The event also witness the launch of a book titled "I am Nala", a compilation of seven stories by Nala council members.

These members include Aya Chebbi (Founder of Nala), Rosebell Kagumire (Human rights defender/Feminist writer), Rose Wachuka Macharia (Chief of Staff, Office of the Hon. Chief Justice of the Republic of Kenya and President of the Supreme Court of Kenya) as well as Oluwaseun Ayodeji Osowobi (Executive Director, Stand to End Rap* Initiative).

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While speaking at the press briefing, Chebbi said the movement of feminism and gender equality is not a fight against men, but an opportunity for women to discover their innate ability and special gifts to help in the development of society.

The 34-year-old Tunisian diplomat also stated that it is high time for African countries to begin championing the course of sensitization on women's rights and gender equality.

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'Feminism beyond teaching, it is a practice' - Oluwaseun

When asked if feminism can be incorporated into the school curriculum in Nigeria, the executive director of STER, Oluwaseun Ayodeji Osowobi said feminism is way beyond being a study rather it should be a way of life.

She said:

"I focus more on the practice of feminism. As much as it sounds brilliant to include it in the school curriculum, we haven't even gotten comprehensive sexuality education in the school curriculum. In its entirety, we're still struggling with that.
"Feminism for me is about our approach to life, the way we do things, the way we interact with people, and the way we deconstruct the barriers and oppressions that women face. And I think we can do this by creating awareness on social media, and community level, ensuring that women and girls get access to education, opportunities, political leadership and the likes."

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Oluwaseun, however, noted that the inclusion of feminism into the school curriculum is a welcome development but advised that Nigeria and other African countries should focus more on the practice by sensitising women and young girls about their rights.

She said community outreach at the grassroots as well as social media campaigns will go a long way in getting people informed about the need to accept gender equality.

Oluwseun said:

"You can teach someone something and they forget it, but if you can show them how it is done, you have succeeded in imprinting it in their memory. How about out-of-school children, how do they get access to it if it is being taught in schools? So it is about grassroots engagement, a way of life that needs to be practised.
"We need to start going to communities and talking about women's rights. So our practices at the local and national levels must mirror it. So for me, feminism actually means understanding that women have rights and you're going to uphold those rights and advance them."

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While expressing her stance on feminism and gender quality, she told that the practice of feminism seeks to help boys and girls see themselves as equals as it will help channel a ripple effect of balance in society.

Agitation for women's rights should not be subtle - Kagumire

Meanwhile, foremost Ugandan journalist and pan-African feminist, Rosebell Kagumire believes the fight for women's rights and inclusion in governance should not be subtle.

The 39-year-old feminist writer said women must resist abuse and be vocal about any form of oppression, marginalization and degradation.

She said:

"Do you know how much every day we use subtle approaches? I will give you an example when you talk about a woman and a girl’s life; I walk on the street, a man touches my body, I do not respond, at the office, my boss wants to sleep with me in other to do my work. I am subtle, I do not respond.

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"Why should being subtle be a way of life? These days majority of our women are subtle, they can't even resist because you might end up being dead, lose your job, lose your income and the likes. So we are forced every day to be subtle."

While reacting to the current state of governance in some African nation and how women are being sidelined, she simply said "We should not allow power to be comfortable, abusing us, abusing our resources, why we continue to be poor."

"The EndSars movement was a perfect example. People came out to seek fairness and this is because the system is not civil, why should you be civil."

She however urged women who feel oppressed in their immediate environment to open up about their struggles.

Kagumire said:

For me, I take much pride in African women on the continent who do not actually allow respectability.
These days you find women negotiating with power and their abusers, but for those who have found the power to speak out and not be respectable, those are the assets we need.


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