I used to say with faith that the time will come for francophone women to start extensive mobilization work around women’s human rights issues. Yes, I think the time has now come. Last year young feminists from central Africa gathered in Congo Brazzaville to debate on challenges facing the feminist movement in the region. Together they committed to take the bull by the horns to save lives and promote the dignity of women in Central Africa. Now the DIVAS Network, a network for women’s empowerment came out in grand style to organize a Forum on Gender Parity with the specific theme “Gender parity is now”. The Divas Network is an autonomous platform which works to promote women’s leadership at all levels. It’s aims during this forum was to engage in extensive advocacy activities to enhance the visibility of Congolese women and to promote their participation in decision making processes. The network was privileged to have as its patron, the Congolese First Lady, Her Excellency Mrs Antoinette Sassou N’guesso
The African Women’s Development Fund through its Francophone Programme Officer Ms Rissi Assani-Alabi was represented on a panel on enhancing women’s participation in decision making processes. This was a great opportunity for AWDF to showcase its work around women’s political participation and how it continues to strive though its grant making and capacity-building programmes to have more women in strategic decision making processes. Other issues discussed included the key role of women as key actors in development as well as girl child education.
I was really impressed by the Congolese (Brazzaville) First Lady’s commitment to this issue, making Congo the first African country with an absolute parity law to elective, administrative and political decision making positions. Is there a women’s movement in Congo Brazzaville? That is a question I need to find an answer to as quickly as possible. There are women’s organizations in Brazzaville working in isolation ignoring that their efforts could yield results if only they network and partner with others. This is one of the key issues the Divas Network is going to take up. This new platform could serve as a space for feminist organizing and mobilising. While progress has been made on gender equality worldwide, it is only through legal means, political will by governments and vigorous advocacy activities by civil society organizations that gender parity can be achieved.
Reseau Divas du Congo, let’s hear from you!!!!! Congolese Women need you to enhance their visibility
By: Rissi Assani-Alabi