AFRICA DAY: #MakingWomenVisible Campaign
On May 25th, various countries across the African continent and worldwide, celebrated Africa Day. A celebration that represents the annual commemoration of the foundation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU), now known as African Union. The first Africa Day was held in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia) in 1963, when 32 African countries came together and formed the OAU. In more than half a decade since, 21 African countries have joined the organisation, the last one being South Africa, after the Apartheid ended in 1994. The original mission of the OAU was to bring freedom to those countries that were still under the colonial power and restore the dignity of African people. Nowadays, Africa Day is a national holiday in a handful of countries and different themes are set every year.
This year, Make Every Woman Count (MEWC), as an organisation which serves as a mobilizing, networking and training platform for African women and aims at strengthening their voice, impacting, and influencing them; launched a one-day online campaign on its social media channels to increase visibility for African women that have made and are making a difference in their communities and countries.
The lack of visibility for African women and their initiatives is an issue that needs to be addressed as soon as possible, in order for them to be fully involved in their communities and taken into account when it comes to making decisions or developing policies that affect them, their families, organisations or communities. Women need to be at the centre of building initiatives that promote their community’s development. Women’s representation is crucial in order to develop and implement fair and inclusive policies. When their efforts are not recognised women often feel discouraged or powerless in making positive social change. MEWC believes it is essential to value every single effort women and women’s organisation do, in order to encourage them to continue pursuing their mission.
With this in mind, to recognise the exceptional effort and contribute to the promotion of gender equality in the African continent, MEWC’s Twitter and Facebook followers participated in the #MakingWomenVisible campaign by nominating African influential women and highlighting their background, work and achievements. In doing so, MEWC managed to actively engage with several organisations, such as Tostan and UNESCO Botswana, and individuals, developing a highly inclusive campaign, which reached up to 60,000 twitter users.
On May 25th, the participation of the online community for the campaign reached extremely high levels, with individuals and organisations nominating African influential women throughout the day. Followers have expressed high interest in finding out more about African women and the work they are doing to further improve the conditions of women and girls on the continent. The campaign celebrated women who have worked on a wide range of issues, from women’s involvement in peace-building processes, mental health initiatives, to poets.
Some of the highlights of the day’s nominations are Baratang Miya, who worked to empower South African girls with digital skills; Dr. Stella Nyanzi, a Ugandan activist campaigning for women’s health; Latifa Jbabdi for her work as a women’s rights advocate in Morocco, and Lina Zedriga Waru Abuku for her tireless work and expertise in women and peace-building.
On the other side, people who have been nominated have sincerely appreciated seeing their work recognised and valued, and have seen this as a further motivation to pursue their work going forward. Here are some the nominations and quotes they provided us with:
“We would like to nominate Alice Masinte from Network of Youth (NOYA) in Kenya. She has been exceptional in engaging men in the End FGM Movement through supporting Morans (Maasai men) to end FGM in Kajiado County, Kenya!.” – The Girl Generation
“Ten years ago I could ever have imagined that I would be a leader in a movement to end the “tradition” that most women in my community undergone. Not only did I believe it was a religious obligation, but I myself was the one who operated on girls in all the surrounding communities.” – Oureye Sall, nominated by the organisation Tostan
“Society can find me different but it is time we abandon traditions, customs or taboos that devalue women, gender equality in Africa is possible if we all walk the talk and let women shine on in all aspects of life” – Petrider Paul
To give women and women’s organisations the visibility they deserve is therefore extremely important, not only on Africa day but throughout the year, to contribute to the achievement of a more inclusive and efficient social development. MEWC is proud to work everyday to support and encourage African women in their work and provide them with training and advice.
By Serena Mior
MEWC’s Communication and Advocacy Intern