Women’s rights leaders and activists from Ghana, Kenya, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, and Uganda gathered for WLP’s capacity-building workshop on reforming discriminatory family laws. WLP’s partner in Nigeria, the Center for Advancement of Development Rights (CEADER), hosted the event in Lagos, which ran from August 27 to 30, 2018. The participants were members of WLP’s African partner organizations, as well individual African activists committed to amending family laws in their respective countries.
The four-day workshop covered topics such as inclusive leadership, the connection between inequality in the family and violence, and advocacy skills for legal reform. A number of WLP-produced resources were used during the training, including manuals like Beyond Equality, Victories over Violence, and Leading to Choices.
Participants presented information on the status of family laws in their countries and forged a collective vision for achieving gender equality in the family in African contexts. For the final activity, participants jointly planned and presented advocacy pilot projects that will be implemented in the following months.
Workshop participants were also tasked with carrying out step-down trainings for their networks. In this way, strategies and resources for family law advocacy are further disseminated to others. In the weeks following the training, a number of workshop attendees had already replicated what they learned in their own communities:
- Nigerian participant Aizighode Obinyan organized a step-down training for her colleagues at Spaces for Change, an NGO that promotes human rights in social and economic governance processes.
- Ugandan participant Hellen Tanyinga, Executive Director of the Rape Hurts Foundation, conducted a step-down training in a village where her organization works. She distributed the Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials with family law reform messaging that were provided during the August workshop.
- Nigeria participant Biola Ogunyemi organized a step-down training targeting women in three local districts in Lagos: Kosofe, Apapa and Ojo. She also distributed the educational materials she received at the workshop.
Campaigning for Equality in the Family
Capacity-building workshops like this one are a key part of WLP’s global campaign, Equality Starts in the Family, which aims to reform unequal laws and practices relating to the family. Women all over the world face restrictions on their rights and roles within the family, inhibiting their ability to freely marry, travel, work, inherit property, or pass citizenship on to their children. This kind of discrimination robs them of resources and control over their own lives, making them vulnerable to violence. Inequality within a household also reproduces itself outside of the home, affecting the ways in which women and girls are treated in school, the workplace, and politics.
WLP’s African partner organizations are working to change family laws within their own contexts, depending on the most locally pressing needs. In Senegal, WLP’s partner GIPSWAR advocates to reform laws that favor male family members in land ownership rights. WLP’s Moroccan partner, ADFM, challenges parts of the family code that allow polygamy or unfair inheritance practices. WLP’s partners in Mauritania, Mozambique, and Zimbabwe focus their efforts on changing the cultural norms that perpetuate child marriage and repealing the laws that permit it.
The August workshop strengthened solidarity among WLP activists and other allies working for equality in the family, and built their capacities as leaders in this movement. See highlights from the training in the video below created by CEADER, or click here to view additional photos from the training.
The Generation Equality Forum has called for strong commitments by civil society, governments, and individuals that will transform structures and systems of power and lead to gender equality. As part of the Generation Equality Forum we join international allies in making commitments to continue our research and advocacy efforts for equality in the family.
Since 2007, WLP’s partner in Morocco, L’Association Démocratique des Femmes du Maroc (ADFM), has worked closely on collective land issues with Soulaliyates, rural tribal women in Morocco. Over a decade ago, one woman’s courage to stand up to discriminatory land policies in her village led to a partnership between the Soulaliyate women and ADFM that has mobilized hundreds of other women to take action and claim their rights.