Association of Female Heads of Households
Association of Female Heads of Households
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
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.
- 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.
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.