Association of Female Heads of Households

Association of Female Heads of Households

Association des Femmes Chefs de Famille (AFCF)
Nouakchott

AFCF promotes women’s rights in Mauritania, particularly focusing on women's and children's rights, by campaigning to reform laws and policies to protect women and children from violence, trafficking, racial discrimination, harmful practices, and poverty.

Partner Focus Areas

Ending violence against women, human trafficking, and slavery
Women's political and economic participation
Legal reform and access to justice
Vocational training for women and young people

Partnership Highlights

Partner since 2004
Trainings for women political leaders on women's rights and advocacy strategies
Leadership workshops for service providers
Research on child marriage, child labor, inheritance, and slavery in Mauritania
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AFCF International Women's Day Event 2017
Women from West Africa convene for an AFCF International Women’s Day event in Nouakchott, Mauritania.

About AFCF

AFCF, based in the capital Nouakchott, advances women’s rights, solidarity, and psychosocial support through education, advocacy campaigns, and direct services. AFCF has a special focus on women and children who are victims of violence, abuse, trafficking, and slavery. Founded in 1999, AFCF has over 5,000 members, and is continuously expanding its collaborative network of local and international NGOs. AFCF’s research and reporting have addressed legal reforms that give women greater access to justice, and are raising awareness locally and internationally about inheritance discrimination, access to land, economic empowerment, trafficking of women and girls, child marriage, and gender-based violence. Its work strengthens democracy, the rule of law, and the fight against violent extremism. AFCF is the primary organization engaging with the Ministry of Justice to achieve legal reforms protecting the rights of women and children. Currently, AFCF is working on revising the Personal Status Code and Nationality Code.

Since AFCF joined the WLP partnership in 2004, AFCF has integrated WLP’s methodology and leadership curricula into its trainings and programs, and has added many of WLP’s political participation and advocacy strategies to its campaigning. AFCF works primarily in Arabic and French.
 

Aminetou with boy during human rights event
Aminetou Mint el Moctar, director of AFCF, meets with a young boy during a human rights event in Mauritania

Recent Accomplishments

  • AFCF organized a successful campaign to introduce and implement gender quotas in the Mauritanian parliament. The 2006 quota law increased women’s representation in parliament to 20%, 19% in the Senate, and 30% at the municipal level. AFCF’s training directly supported the election of 99 women including 6 women mayors, a female head of the Urban Community of Nouakchott, and dozens of women ministers. AFCF continues to train and organize women parliamentarians and candidates to support women’s advancement at all levels. 
  • As the only NGO member of the Revision Committee of Mauritania’s Criminal Code and Code of Criminal Procedures, AFCF drafted a provision that criminalizes all forms of violence against women, and a draft law providing legal protection to female domestic workers who are minors. AFCF is now campaigning for the adoption of its draft reforms. AFCF also created a legal framework for the protection of minors and the prohibition of child labor, and introduced a law to promote sexual and reproductive health in 2017.
  • AFCF collaborated with SOS Slaves and other human rights groups to raise awareness of the persistence of slavery in Mauritania, and successfully advocated for the implementation of a law to fight slavery in 2007. Due to the persistent pressure of the AFCF coalition, this law was revised in 2015 to make slavery a crime against humanity. 
  • AFCF’s campaigning for women’s access to justice in the courts culminated in the appointment of several female magistrates who are receptive to cases of gender-based violence. Since 2012, AFCF also has successfully advocated for the employment of social workers in local police stations and in the courts to support women and children who are victims of violence. 
  • After years of advocacy by women’s rights organizations and advocates to reverse Mauritania’s reservations to the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), Mauritania has lifted its general reservation, citing specifically Paragraph 1 of Article 13 concerning inheritance, and Article 16 on the equal right to divorce. 
  • AFCF trained 89 NGO employees on women’s leadership and approaches to civic engagement, including advocacy strategies, media techniques, and methods of communication about women’s issues.
  • AFCF’s economic empowerment programs have reached 1,300 women who now run small businesses and are able to support themselves and their families. AFCF also supported a literacy campaign that reached over 20,000 women and girls in rural and outlying areas of Nouakchott, and has helped over 73,000 children, mostly girls, to gain civil status and access to rights and legal protection.
  • AFCF facilitated a workshop for 40 participants from civil society organizations fighting gender-based violence as part of its Breaking the Silence campaign. Participants from Mali, Cameroon, Senegal, and Mauritania attended the workshop and were able to bring new mobilization and leadership skills back to their respective organizations. 
We are in the process of lobbying authorities to take an interest in women issues. We’re starting to have an impact. Today, in the street, in the gatherings, all the discourse is on women. There has beens a wake-up call, mobilization on all levels—among the youth, among men—to shoulder women because they push things. It has to be said that a woman manages better here in Mauritania than a man. She is more precise, she manages well, there is less corruption among women, and there are fewer problems with financial management when done by women. 

,Executive Director, WLP Mauritania/Association des Femmes Chefs de Famille (AFCF)

Organizational Programs and Activities

Workshops on Leadership and Women's Political Participation

  • AFCF holds numerous workshops on women’s leadership and political participation. Participants come from across the country, representing grassroots women’s organizations that are advancing women’s rights. AFCF also organizes workshops for female candidates running in parliamentary elections. During the trainings, participants develop their skills to run a political campaign and learn about how to utilize the media, raise funds, and advocate for issues. The workshops also provide women with the opportunity to discuss different tactical approaches to the unique challenges women face in politics. 
AFCF IWD Certificates
WLP's partner in Mauritania, AFCF, announces the launch of its campaign to reform the Personal Status Code in Mauritania in March 2018.

Ending Abuse of Domestic Workers

  • Through its Domestic Minors Project, AFCF assists families and distributes food packages during economic crises to combat the sending of minors to work as domestic servants.
  • Through its Saudi Arabian Domestic Workers Project, AFCF supports migrant workers who are victims of economic exploitation and sexual abuse.

Eliminating Trafficking and Gender-based Violence

  • AFCF campaigns against the trafficking of young women and girls, and the abusive treatment of trafficked girls in neighboring countries. There are a growing number of networks in West Africa targeting slavery and its aftermath with which AFCF coordinates its work.
  • AFCF collaborates with African networks working to eliminate violence against women, child marriage, and sexual assault. It conducts studies and documents the instances and the effects of child marriage. AFCF drafts laws and campaigns for policies to end child marriage.
  • In partnership with the European Union and a network of international organizations, AFCF is putting pressure on the government, particularly the judiciary, to prosecute and punish perpetrators of violence against women in all of its forms.
The African woman suffers more than anyone else from burdens of poverty, exclusion and discrimination, and violence and conflict. That is why migration is on the rise in African countries, as in countries touched by conflict, like Syria. Previously only youth left, but now a great number of women and children are fleeing poverty, ignorance, and dictatorship. Giving these women a voice at a global level is extremely important.

,Executive Director, WLP Mauritania/Association des Femmes Chefs de Famille (AFCF)

About Mauritania

  • Population: 4 million
  • Located in Western Africa, bordering Algeria, Mali, Senegal, the disputed Western Sahara region, and the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Mauritania's economy is dominated by extractive industries (oil and mines), fisheries, agriculture, gold ore, and phosphate. The country’s coastal waters are among the richest fishing areas in the world, with estimates of fisheries contribution to the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) varying between 4 and 10 percent.
  • Much of the population still depends on farming and raising livestock, even though many nomads and subsistence farmers were forced into the cities by recurrent droughts in the 1970s, 1980s and 2000s.
  • Mauritania abolished slavery only recently, in 1981, and the continued prevalence of slavery in Mauritania is among the highest in the world. The practice persists despite the enactment of Law 031/2015 making slavery a crime against humanity.
  • Mixed legal system of Islamic and French civil law
  • Religion: Muslim (official) 100%
  • Citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of Mauritania
  • Seats held by women in national parliament: 25%
  • Labor force: 31.3% female
  • Female literacy: 41.6%
Since our activism, the literacy rates have risen. Everyone wants to enroll now. That is thanks to a movement of solidarity, all the work that has been done by women for the feminist movement, and by our association that supports girls’ education. 

,Executive Director, WLP Mauritania/Association des Femmes Chefs de Famille (AFCF)

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