Learning experiences

Learning experiences

Date: December 6, 2010
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I was privileged to be able to attend a workshop in Accra, Ghana from 20 to 23 November facilitated by DAWN (Development Alternatives with Women for a New era) and TWN (Third World Networks). Entitled “Regional Consultation and Training Institution on Gender, Economic and Environmental Justice in Africa”, it entailed four intense days in Accra, but was well worth the experience.

The main lesson I learned was that women’s struggles, economic justice and environmental justice are beginning to play an increasingly bigger role for women – one therefore cannot speak of gender justice without taking these factors into account. Through the different presentations at the workshop, my eyes were opened more and more to the fact that these issues are very much intertwined.

Through the historical timeline exercise I learnt how far the processes we now have available to us as women are deeply entrenched in history – for Africa this means the pre-independence era. All the international instruments we now have available to us are as a result of work that has been done through the years, beginning with just human rights, to finally recognising that the struggle for women’s rights is worthy of highlighting.

There is no shortage of struggles for women on the African continent and there are many problems that we still face before women can be released from the captivity of poverty. The first and most important thing for me was definitely good leadership. I tied this in with a Gender Training course I did with Gender Links, in which one exercise was to go through the qualities of a good (transformative) leader. I realised just how important it is to have the right type of leadership, for this is where change on a large scale take place, and this is crucial for women to be on equal footing with all other human beings.

I was also interested in how women’s movements are taking different forms and shapes across the continent. One young lady from Kenya described how they mobilised the rural women of Kenya to get them involved in the Constitutional changes happening in the country. They lobbied for women to look at the changes in a way that linked those in government with those on the ground – a truly inspiring moment. One of the main things the women were happy about was that women are finally able to pass citizenship on to their children, up to now it was only fathers who could do so – a real milestone.

The workshop strengthened my belief in the force of civil society – no matter what level of occupation. I strongly believe that there is a great role for civil society organisations in breaking barriers where women are traditionally disempowered and to enable women from all walks of life to move forward. The fact that there are young people continuing the fight, refusing to be complacent and dedicating their lives to the struggle shows that the fight is a worthy one.

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