I live and work in Nouakchott, the capital of Mauritania. I am President of a non-governmental organisation called the Association of Women Supporting Families (Association des Femmes Chefs de Familles- AFCF) which advocates for Mauritanian women’s equality, empowerment and their access to decision making bodies. In Mauritania we are struggling against child marriage which is widespread and is a violation of the rights of girls and young women in our society. Although the Family Code states that people must be at least 18 years old before they marry, the law is not enforced to protect the poorest and least educated. Slavery is also a widespread and abhorrent practice in my country. My organisation works with and advocates for the rights of women slaves and their children. We are vocal in denouncing slavery and calling for people involved in perpetuating it to be brought to justice.
I consider myself a feminist because I fight to ensure that women participate in the management of the affairs of my country and for equality, empowerment and independence of women in all areas. As part of my activism, I fight to neutralise the impact of feudalism and customary practices. I also lobby my country’s women’s organisations to ensure that women reject the role of being submissive, and have mobilised for women’s representation in politics and decision-making. In 2006 my organisation was awarded the French Government’s Human Rights Prize for the work we did in supporting women to participate in politics.
Feminists are facing several challenges including male domination, and the influence of customs and traditions on what society will define as fair or acceptable. As a movement we also often do not have the chance to share experiences amongst ourselves and to build strong solidarity among feminist organisations in Africa and the world at large. This can be addressed by creating more forums for feminist activists.
I am always amazed by the degree of awareness among women and the boundless determination that women have to pursue the struggle they have set for themselves. I am also inspired to see the feminist movement grow in all African countries, and to see women activists begin to counter the control that religion and other institutions have over women