Akina Mama wa Afrika (AMwA) is a feminist-Pan-African civil society organization founded in 1985 by a group of African women living in the diaspora, who remained keenly aware of their African roots and the need to organize autonomously. We were named Akina Mama wa Afrika which means solidarity among African women. Collective action is therefore our birthright. We were fearless right from birth and remain so, having chosen to identify as feminists at a time when the word was largely shunned in Africa and beyond. Our boldness stems from our unwavering desire for women’s agency and gender justice.
For the last 35 years, we have relentlessly focused on uprooting all forms of deeply entrenched patriarchal structures and systems that use power and privilege to oppress, exclude and exploit women. We have been doing this by increasing the visibility of women’s lived experiences, particularly those living on the margins of society. We have been building women’s individual and collective power to influence policy and social change.
Our flagship programme – the African Women’s Leadership Institute (AWLI), (and a pioneer on the continent), is well known for igniting feminist fires and has produced a strong community of over 8000 feminist leaders aka AMwAzons who are championing a progressive women rights agenda in different parts of Africa. Equipped with the knowledge and tools to dismantle patriarchy, our alumni have been instrumental in forming social movements campaigning against gender inequality, women’s exploitation, and discrimination.
Through collaboration with sister organizations, we have established strong coalitions which have brought critical women’s rights issues to policy-making spaces at the national and regional levels. We are proud members of the Solidarity for African Women’s Rights (SoAWR), NGO CSW Africa, the Gender Is My Agenda Campaign and more recently Tax Justice Network AfricaOur collective energies have carried us far by expanding our influence. While the journey to gender justice remains long and arduous, we value the platforms through which we are amplifying African women’s voices, holding governments accountable, and influencing policy reforms. Notwithstanding the setbacks, we celebrate our contribution to the ratification and domestication of the Maputo Protocol; African Union Agenda 2063; and the zero-tolerance campaign on Sexual and Gender-Based Violence in the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region Pact on Peace, Stability, and Development, among others. Our consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council has also enabled us to promote inclusion in global frameworks by connecting local issues to the global and our newly acquired Observer Status at the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights which gives us the legitimacy to not only present human rights concerns before the Commission and hold States accountable but also to influence the thematic areas for the Commission’s attention.
We acknowledge the continuous pushback on women’s rights and are actively creating our own spaces for collective interrogation, reflection, and strategizing. As the current host of the Uganda Feminist Forum (UFF) and working group members of the African Feminist Forum (AFF), we have devoted our energies to feminist movement building and organizing in Africa. These spaces have been instrumental in building feminist consciousness and engagement with both pervasive and emerging women’s rights issues, especially those challenging prejudice, taboos, and stigma. While ideological differences continue to undermine efforts to forge a shared political purpose as feminists, we are mindful of not reproducing patriarchal oppression. At AMwA, how we conduct our work is as important as the work itself and we are intentional about sisterhood, inter-generational solidarity, and intersectional feminism in pursuit of a gender-just society.