Gender-based discrimination and violence is still prevalent in many countries today, and to bring the world’s attention to this problem, the United Nations (UN) recognises the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women on the 25th of November every year. On this day, the UN system and other organisations aim their activities and events to create the global awareness needed to shift mindsets and behaviours towards ending all forms of violence against women and girls. In Africa, where the World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that up to 45% of women have experienced some form of sexual violence, civil society organisations play a fundamental role in helping to advocate and create public awareness on gender-based violence and to also provide support to victims. In this post, we highlight 10 African organisations that focus their work on protecting women’s rights by advocating for protective policies and implementing programmes to curb violence against women and girls.
Masimanyane is a women’s rights organisation that focuses on reducing crimes committed against women and children in South Africa. The organisation has been able to provide support to over 100,000 survivors of domestic violence, rape and other forms of abuse. Through its community based programmes, the organisation also impacts over 50,000 people each year, more than half of which are children and youth. Masimanyane is a founding member and partner of the International Network to Eradicate Violence Against Women and Girls, and also works with local and international partners, such as, Girl Power Initiative Nigeria, Marie Stopes, Eastern Cape NGO coalition, and many more.
Based in Kenya, the Coalition On Violence Against Women (COVAW) has a goal to build a society that is free from all forms of violence against women. Established in 1995, the organisation works on addressing the root causes of violence and breaking the cycle on domestic abuse through various means, one of which is their Access to Justice and Women’s Right Initiative. Through this initiative, COVAW provides free legal aid to about 400 women every year and gives health support to the survivors of domestic violence. The organisation has also trained 200 community paralegals who help manage and provide support for the cases of domestic violence in their communities.
Project Alert, set up in 1999 in Nigeria, aims to promote the rights of women and young girls. The organisation works with the vision of promoting zero tolerance for abuse and domestic violence against women in Nigeria. Since its inception, Project Alert has carried out research on the nature and prevalence of domestic violence in Nigeria, producing publications and reports that helps in drafting policies. The organisation also provides counselling services, as well as legal aid for women and children who have been abused and lack access to representation. This has helped some victims obtain justice and fair recourse.
Sonke Gender Justice is an organisation in South Africa that has an objective to promote gender equality, curb domestic and sexual violence, and reduce the spread of HIV. This organisation carries out several programmes to advance the prevention of domestic violence, such as the One Man Campaign and the Sonke’s Social and Structural Drivers. The One Man Campaign actively encourages men to participate in the advocacy of gender equality. To increase the impact of the campaign, the organisation also produced a tool-kit that provides a detailed guide designed to help men change their beliefs and take an active step against domestic violence.
Kivulini is a Tanzanian organisation that was founded in 1999 by six women who were deeply affected by the widespread violence against women. The name “Kivulini” in Swahili means “In the shade,” and it implies a place of safety, which is what the organisation aims to provide for victims. With the knowledge that the issue of domestic violence is entrenched in the society, partnering with civil society organisations in rural areas is one of the ways in which Kivulini works to combat the problem. By 2014, the organisation had reached over 60,000 people by empowering community activists and over 20,000 people by supporting paralegals in communities.
Women Empowerment And Legal Aid, an organisation based in Nigeria, aims to break down barriers that hinder gender equality and to put an end to the abuse and violence against women and girls in Nigeria. Since 2009, the organisation has provided legal aid, training, and advocacy to end discrimination against women and promote their empowerment. The organisation is a staunch advocate of women’s rights in Nigeria.
Raising Voices, a Ugandan organisation founded in 1999, works towards the prevention of violence against women and children using a strategy and approach called SASA, which means “now” in Kiswahili and emphasizes the sense of urgency the organisation places on the issues of violence against women. For Raising Voices, SASA is also an acronym that stands for: Start, Awareness, Support and Mobilization, which are the four phases of the organisation’s community mobilization approach. Through this innovative model, SASA addresses the imbalance of power between the male and female gender and uses tools such as story telling, dramas and contests to reach millions of Ugandans.
Founded in 1986, the African Network for the Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect (ANPPCAN) is currently headquartered in Kenya, and has chapters in 26 African countries. The ANPPCAN amongst other activities carries out a self-protection programme and organises Child Rights clubs that teaches children about their rights and how to report cases of child abuse. In 2016, almost 400 members of the clubs in selected communities were trained. The organisation also trained over 700 parents on child rights, as well as ways to improve their preventive and reaction efforts to reported cases of child sexual abuse and violence.
With an objective to create awareness and tackle the high rate of sexual violence towards women and young girls in Nigeria, the Women At Risk International Foundation (WARIF) has taken various steps to achieve its goals. Based in Nigeria, the Foundation established the WARIF Center in Lagos as a free service facility that provides guidance and care for the survivors of sexual violence to help them overcome the trauma of their experiences. The organisation recently launched the “GateKeepers Initiative” in partnership with the Aspire Coronation Trust Foundation, a corporate philanthropy affiliated with Access Bank. As part of the initiative, about 500 traditional birth attendants were trained on how to give support to survivors of gender-based violence.
Based in Zimbabwe, the Musasa Foundation works to end domestic violence, especially against women. This is done by providing the survivors of domestic violence with the knowledge and skills to deal with their situation and prevent its recurrence. The Foundation also targets the broader population by engaging them to change their beliefs and attitudes towards violence against women. In 2015, the Foundation provided counselling services to over 20,000 women across Zimbabwe, as well as provided legal services to over 9000 survivors of domestic violence. Together with its partners, the Foundation created the One Stop Care and Counselling Center.
For more information on the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, visit this UN Women website.