New ACT Alliance Africa Gender Community of Practice

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By Niels Christian Hviid Gade, DanChurchAid Intern

The phrase ‘there is a pushback on women’s rights’ might not come as news to anyone. The call to action, spoken by UN General Secretary António Guterres at the opening of the 63rd UN Commission on the Status of Women, was answered by the rallying cry that we must “push back against the push back”.

On 10-11th October 2019, the ACT Uganda Forum hosted the first meeting of the Act Alliance Africa Gender Justice Community of Practice. Here, 23 participants, including participants from Uganda, South Sudan, Kenya, Tanzania, Somalia, Sierra Leone, Burkina Faso, Liberia, Zimbabwe, South Africa and Ethiopia, came together. A common denominator of these countries is that they rank as the most religious with more than 80% of these populations aligning to a specific religion (The Global Attitudes 2015 Survey).

Participants gathered to discuss the reality of their situation and the challenges they currently face. While the different countries may face different challenges, they all tell a familiar tale of gender injustice. The participants reported experiences in their countries and communities of normalising discriminatory practices, the neglect of policy frameworks and the exclusion of women and girls in decision making processes. The push back on women’s rights is a very real challenge, especially for those who are on the front line defending human rights and gender justice.

In these challenging times, this new community of practice is vital to not only push back against the push back, but to also push forward. The ACT Africa Gender Community of Practice provides members with the opportunity to share not only their learning and experiences, but their frustrations and fears as well. It creates a space for ACT Alliance members to engage in a forum that is conducive to establishing a consensus on gender justice. In doing so, it aims to empower its members to demand accountability and commitment from their states, to identify shared challenges and to strengthen cooperation.

This inter-organisational cooperation is not only a mechanism for members to develop more effective methods of advancing gender justice, but one that also allows the members to strengthen a collective faith voice for gender justice. Some faith voices play an undeniably large part in the push back against women’s rights, and in its institutionalised form contributed to the construction of unequal power structures, which perpetuate gender-based violence. This new community of practice will serve as the pathway for ACT members, working with strategic partners, such as Side by Side, to break these norms, to counter the narrative and to come together as a unified voice in promoting gender justice.

We are delighted that Gladys Nairuba, Side by Side Co-Chair and Program Officer at DanChurchAid Uganda, was elected as Co-Chair of this new community of practice. Gladys Nairuba says: “It is injustice that is keeping women behind. Faith actors can’t be quiet.  As ACT Alliance, all the members are boldly speaking out against injustice.” Gladys will be working alongside Zanele Makombe from Act Ubumbano.

We all wish Gladys and her co-chair the best of luck in their work.

Posted by: Side by Side | Friday, December 20th, 2019
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