Reclaiming the voices and defining the feminist movement across Africa according to daily lived realities of young African feminists has called for creative ways of mobilization, communication and advocacy. This has included addressing issues deemed unconventional, controversial yet at the core of how they affect young feminists are patriarchal manifestations.
The #YAFDialogues is an online platform founded by Young African Feminists from across the continent to address various issues for young African feminists. It has provided a platform for young African feminists to mobilize & power a dynamic movement of self- identifying young African feminist activists and in various professions. The #YAFDialogues team hosted a session at the AWID Forum to highlight the involvement of young African feminist’s organizations and individual activists with crucial SRHR issues including various harmful traditional practices, comprehensive sexuality education, access to safe abortion and the non-discriminatory enjoyment of sexual rights for all young women within (West, East, Southern, Central & North)Africa.
The session provided a much needed space for progressive dialogue, recreation to have difficult conversations around young African feminists current realities in relation to rights and social justice. This was critical due to the backdrop of dwindling civil society spaces across the continent. The session was diverse reflecting regional, language, age, disability, sexual orientation and topical diversity.
Below are highlights, experiences and sentiments of #YAFDialogues at the AWID Forum and the #YAFDialogues session.
- Kindly share what your general experience at AWID was and how you link this to your feminist journey
It was my first time to attend AWID forum. The experience was awesome and the dynamism and energy of all the feminist advocates was very contagious and inspiring. Attending such forum is one of those greatest moments in my life, a lifetime experience not only in terms of traveling to a beautiful country, meet others feminists older and younger ones, enjoy good foods and drinks but meaningfully in my feminist journey to allow me to reflect on my own path and reflect on my peers experiences and paths as well. AWID forum was for me a safe place to revitalize and to re-energize my feminist activism in growing within a strong network of worldwide activists, sharing common struggles and challenging, celebrating success and progress in advancing women`s rights, equality and justice and importantly not leave sight of future barriers and potential strategies on how together we can move things for a better impact – Lana Razafimanantsoa, Young Feminist from Madagascar & #YAFDialogues member
- What are the exciting strategies and approaches you learnt from the forum and those that should be scaled up or widely replicated
I was impressed with the Nigerian Feminist Movement which works with grassroots movements – they work with women who are influential in their communities but might not identify as feminists. The use of positive culture practices. Intensive mentorship and grooming of young women feminists to join the political arena. There is an urgent need to invest in the intergenerational gap within the feminist movements in our countries and regions- and this investment needs to be deliberate, thoroughly thought through and budgeted for. Some sessions I attended touched on this but most did not really get to the nitty gritty of how we can move forward – Umba Zalira, Young Feminist Malawi & #YAFDialogues member
- Share your key take away from the #YAFDialogues session at the AWID Forum
The #YAFDialogues provided a space to initiate invigorating conversations on the Young African Feminist futures pathway. This was done in an inclusive manner and was most importantly fluid and inclusive to ensure that previous constituencies not represented are included. We were quick to ensure that we embody the young African feminist movement in entirety . The identity politics took centre stage as they should when we started to tease out the issues that Young African feminist grapple with and advocate for. We have a responsibility to ensure that we build solidarity and strengthen sisterhood towards enhancing the role of Young African Feminists contribution to the global feminist movement – Catherine Nyambura, Young Feminist, Kenya & #YAFDialogues member
- Our feminist journeys are about building collective shared vision. What does that look like for #YAFDialogues?
The interconnectedness of today’s world and alarming global trends are urging rights and justice movements to rethink our responses, move beyond our customary silos of issues, sectors, locations and identities, and create powerful new alliances with interlaced agendas. It means we have a shared responsibility to disrupt and transform current power structures to advance rights and justice. The AWID 2016 Forum is about moving beyond our silos of issues, sectors, locations and identities with the understanding that none of us are free, until all of us are free. It will bring our deepest challenges, best thinking, highest hopes and most innovative strategies to collectively create new futures – Lana Razafimanantsoa, Young Feminist from Madagascar & #YAFDialogues member
Inclusivity is the first word that comes to mind. A collected shared vision for a regional network of young African feminists can only be possible if we include ALL women from all corners of Africa especially North Africa – Umba Zalira, Young Feminist Malawi & #YAFDialogues member
It is indeed the same path #YAFDialogues is one. This is the reason for ensuring that our online presence is very strong which we use to engage other young African feminist from Africa whether they are resident in Africa or in the diaspora to add their voices on the issues affecting women that are on the feminist agenda. This is to ensure that young African feminists are on the same page as other feminists in the globe in acquiring the shared vision – Mariatou Newlands, Young Feminist Gambia & #YAFDialogues member