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Brief following the launch of the report Women and NCDs in Africa: Mapping the scale, actors and extent of rights-based work to address the impact of NCDs on African women.

Written by: Dinnah Nabwire, Knowledge Management Specialist, AWDF

Many people think that non-communicable diseases (NCDs) disproportionately affect men and richer populations especially those in the Global North. However, research shows that NCDs are increasingly becoming a leading cause for death and disability among women in low- and middle-income countries, disproportionately affecting those in the lowest socioeconomic groups, with direct negative implications to development, human rights and social justice.

Professor Ana Mocumbi, the co-chair of The Lancet Commission on NCDs and injuries, made these observations during her keynote address at the AWDF launch of the report Women and NCDs in Africa: Mapping the scale, actors and extent of rights-based work to address the impact of NCDs on African women during a virtual event at the Women and Girls Africa Summit. The report which is available in both English and French is a compilation of findings from a continent-wide study in all 54 countries to assess the scale and key gendered concerns around NCDs with a focus on cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancers, chronic respiratory diseases, and mental health. It also maps key actors and the extent of rights-based work on NCDs in Africa. An executive summary of the report is also available in both English and French and provides a synthesis of the key findings. …


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Having read Shel Silverstein’s much-acclaimed children’s book The Giving Tree years ago, I reflect now and can’t help but compare the characters in that book; the tree and the boy, to women and the world respectively. The Giving tree tells the story of a boy who grows to become a man, and a tree; personified “she”, who lean on each other (or more accurately who have a parasitic relationship). This story is largely acclaimed and also largely criticised for its teachings of selfishness, selflessness, and greed. …


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By: Jennifer Donkoh, Communications Associate, AWDF

Many people who do not experience the most tragic aspects of patriarchy like Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), sexual assault and domestic violence are often quick to describe feminists as radical or overly dramatic. For them, because they do not hear about or experience such evils in their immediate environments, it is a remote issue. …


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I’m very familiar with relationship dynamics. By this I mean I know a fair bit about the sexual politics in relationships. Gender roles in relationships is a heavy one to digest; there’s a lot to unpack but for now let’s focus on the ultimate trade off — financial assistance for sex. It is not always that blatant but there’s that exchange.

Ever heard of the phrase “women are gold-diggers?” Yea! I honestly don’t know how the term technically came to be, but it’s generally inferred from women’s expectation of their male partners to support them financially. I’m talking about heterosexual relationships. This entire article is drawn from the heterosexual context. Women being called gold-diggers has an intended derogatory connotation and men are advised to stay away from women who are interested in their money. Like every stereotypical tag that society puts on women who do not conform, people generally hurl this “insult” at women without pausing to consider the underlying issues that birthed this phenomenon. Yes, it’s true that the average woman wants her partner to provide for her financially; but why? …


We were all perhaps a bit too smug at the start of 2020. The numerology suggested it was going to be an auspicious year. As I write we are still in the midst of COVID19 pandemic, a global health emergency that has been as much about political leadership, the military-industrial complex, macroeconomic policy and (gendered) inequality as it has been about a virus. Just as we were contending with the onset of this maelstrom another exploded into public view with the viral video of the murder of George Floyd by police in Minnesota, USA. Like Rodney King, Trayvon Martin, Sandra Bland and the far too many other black men, women and transpeople murdered by police in the USA- this sparked rage. …


African feminist activism has been going through an increasingly introspective moment. A moment when we are considering not just the external politics of our thoughts and practices towards change, but also the impact that all of this is having on our physical and emotional bodies. I think its fair to say that there is a collective sense of exhaustion, compounded at times with the actual direct threat of harm in response to speaking up (the contemporary political moments in Egypt, Algeria and Zimbabwe, and the ongoing process of articulating a public queer African feminist politics come to mind). As a sector we have dubbed the extending reach of oppressive states as a phenomenon of ‘closing space’. However its toll is not just felt in the restriction of public space for civic action, it is also felt in the inner space of feminists activists and in the sense of emotional depletion that constant battles without replenishment can create. …


When I entered AWDF House in Accra in my new role as Director of Programmes the first thing I noticed were the walls. Large swathes of blank white space, stretching high above my head, framed on the approach by enormous white columns. I kept thinking about these walls. Their blankness, their apparent indifference, and the contrasting vibrance of the African feminist thought and action being resourced from within them.

A month into the job I initiated planning for the fourth African Feminist Forum, a gathering that had ushered me head first into the world of African feminist organising in 2003 when I first attended a now historic gathering of African feminists in Zanzibar. We began to consider themes for the forum and decided on the affirming ‘Voice, Power and Soul’, convening 170 feminists in Harare in April 2016 to learn and strategise. As busy as I was, the blank walls of AWDF House kept pressing on my mind. …


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Image by LaylaBird via Getty

Written by Jennifer Donkoh, Communications Associate, AWDF

25 years after the Beijing Platform for Action, women still live in constant fear across the African continent. Despite the signing of the peace agreement in 2018, South Sudan has one of the highest rates of sexual violence against women in the world. Female protestors in Egypt often face violent sexual assault; their attackers suffer no punishment. Every three hours a woman is murdered in South Africa. These are the more glaring examples of patriarchy. It is still however very much present in so-called more advanced countries. Female political candidates are berated and discriminated against in most countries by the media and public opinion. Many women are paid much less than their male counterparts. …


Interviews by Akosua Hanson, Catalytic Initiatives Officer and Project Lead on the AWDF Flourish Retreat.

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Picture Credit: Jessica Horn

I remember Hope Chigudu warmly embracing me, whispering to me these words, “It is time to let go of everything even if it’s going to hurt others…so you can heal, be free and start thinking of yourself as a person.” These words are still my guiding principles today.

~ Florence Awuor, Flourish Retreat participant.

AWDF’s inaugural Flourish Retreat was launched in February this year in what will turn out to be an incredibly empowering start to what was going to be a very difficult year.

Taking place at the beautiful Sogakope beach resort located in the Volta region of Ghana, the Flourish retreat is one strand of the AWDF Flourish Project aimed at strengthening feminist organizing across Africa, a partner project of the NOVO Foundation’s Radical Hope Fund. …


Envisioning a Feminist Earth: African women lead the way

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A feminist just earth, as expressed by Bridget Burns of WEDO, ‘is a world centred on recognition and care for ourselves, for others and for mother earth’.

As COVID-19 continues to impact our communities, it is imperative that we actively and consciously devise ways of protecting the health of our planet. The environmental challenges before us today are prompting us to view our development through an environmental health lens. They also highlight the fact that we need to change the way we live, work, relate to one another and interact with the outside world. It is clear that our current development model is unsustainable, and is taking a heavy toll on the earth and her lifeforms. …

About

AWDF

African Women’s Development Fund supports autonomous organisations on initiatives for transformation led by African women.

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