2020: FEMNET’s Year in Review
As we wind up the year 2020, a year that has been difficult and exhausting, we have witnessed hard-won gains on gender equality, women’s rights and guaranteed fundamental freedoms being eroded and reversed across different countries in Africa. We started the year with a Letter by African Women & Girls to the AU Chairperson, President Cyril Ramaphosa. The African Union theme of the year was ‘Silencing the Guns’ and so was our clarion call to silence the guns and defund the sector and invest more into social protection and gender equality. he outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in February/March 2020 exposed and exacerbated pre-existing systemic inequalities, normalized injustices and structural discrimination. As a result, the most vulnerable and marginalized populations, whose voices have been systematically silenced and whose interests are hardly ever served, have not only been left behind but also pushed further into extreme poverty. African women remain at the lower ranks of the development indexes. The pandemic exposed glaring gaps in contraception, comprehensive sexuality education, weak health delivery systems and insufficient social protection measures and systems. We end the year with more girls not expected to return to school due to teen pregnancies, we saw more girls than ever undergoing female genital mutilation and once again gender-based violence soared and it was clear to all that the home is not a safe place neither is the public sphere as we saw women and girls in all their diversity being violated by the system that is supposed to protect them.
However, in all these challenges African women demonstrated resilience, connected in global solidarity with other feminists, took opportunities to reach further and have their voices heard in regional and global platforms like never before and influences policies, processes and outcomes in the best way they could. It was the end of the Decade for African Women and the start of the Decade for African women and financial inclusion, yes from one decade to another the fight for women’s human rights continues. 2020 the year we celebrated 25 years of the groundbreaking Beijing+25 blueprint and started the groundwork for the Generation Equality Forums and Action Coalitions – that promise to deliver concrete and transformative change for women and girls around the world in the coming five years and push for adequate resourcing and full implementation of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action.
At FEMNET we reminded ourselves of the need to be our sister’s keeper and why we must remain resolute in demanding for an equal, inclusive and sustainable Africa – grounded in the pan-African ubuntu spirit! We grow as a movement, we persevered at the secretariat we triumphantly finalized the 2020-2029 Strategic plan, did an organizational development exercise, moved office and saw a lot of transition. We cannot thank you our members, partners and alliances enough for collectively contributing to our success and learnings in the midst of the pandemic. ASANTE! Join us as we share with you our 2020 highlights below:-