.​Women’s movement in West Africa​ – Gender History

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ADU-GYAMFI CLIFFORD  

DEPARTMENT OF HISTORY EDUCATION

UNIVERSITY OF EDUCATION,WINNEBA

FEBRUARY, 2018.

This research work begins  by giving a broad definition of Women Movement. The paper also discusses some Women’s Movement in West Africa from some selected countries. The paper also delves in women’s movement West Africa and it is centred on Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Ghana. I concluded by drawing out the main agitations of the selected movements.

Women’s Movement is a broad front of women’s organisations, feminists oriented groups, women included in policy formation and program to fight for the course of women in the society. Women’s movements are sometimes formed for equal rights, jobs, empowerment amongst others. This paper delves in movements such as Association of Female Liberian Lawyers (AFELL), the Mano Rivers Women Network (MARWOPNET), Women In Peace building Network (WIPNET) and the 31st December women’s movement. Below is the vivid content of this research paper.

To begin with the Association of Female Liberian Lawyers (AFELL), this women’s movement was formed in Liberia and played integral role in the development of the country. Liberia has faced several challenges like rape, maltreating of women amongst others. AFELL is a group of female lawyers representing women in the entire country. This great movement was very active and had its focus on cases of rape, as it was a common practice amongst the soldiers during the war time. They joined hands with centre for abused women in documenting the experiences of the Liberian women. A major success of the movement was when their effort led to the granting of rights to prosecute rape cases, whereas before this date, only state lawyers were allowed to prosecute criminal cases. AFELL was later able to influenced legislative bill increasing the penalty linked with rape. AFELLs work is much focus on women, notably through legal aid clinic in MONROVIA. They advise women who are victims of rape. One thing I must say is that, AFELL has been on the field fighting for inheritance rights and customary laws as asserted by Drea Knufken,” from learning to legislation- AFELL empowers Liberians women” on women news network.

Secondly, the Mano Rivers Women’s Peace Network (MARWOPNET) is the next amongst the movements to be tackled. This movement launched a program of shuttle of democracy between the capitals of the Manor River countries of Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia. Liberians ally countries played important but dangerous roles during the Liberian conflict since fighters took refuge in Guinea and Sierra Leone, during the regional conflict between Liberia with Guinea and Sierra Leone. This is just an introductory to help us understand what this movement did. The MARWOPNET contributed immensely in the resolution of this regional conflict. This movement upon realizing the facing of the regional conflict and the effects having on women took it upon themselves to resolve the conflict in the three Mano countries. Eventually this movement succeeded in this by having the three respective leaders of Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea to meet in Rabat in 2002. MARWOPNET greatest achievement was when the United Nations noble prize in human rights was given out to them in 2003. Ending the chapter of the MARWOPNET, one would be right to say they were peace agitating movement and for that matter credence should be given to them when it comes to matters of peace.

In furtherance, another key movement to be tackled is the Women In Peacebuilding Network (WIPNET). WIPNET emerged from the west Africa network for peacebuilding. WIPNET was created to ensure that women would not be submitted again to the patriarchal societies following the end of the war era. This women’s movement started acting from the beginning of the first Liberian civil war and their activities includes organising marches for peace and security and attending peace conferences from 1991 to 1993.The peak of their actions happened during the Liberian civil war when these vibrant women were able to convinced Charles Taylor to meet the rebel forces. They also had numerous contacts with their neighbouring countries such as sierra Leone, Guinea, Ghana and few to mentioned of which they were able to organise trips to Sierra Leone for instance to meet the rebel leaders in a long talk to meet with Charles Taylor which was achievable. This clearly shows that they were having good negotiation skills. The actions of these women led to the Accra summit which was dubbed the peace summit to happen. However, they were not invited to the peace talk and therefore they organised more demonstrations, but this time in Accra, Ghana and joined by Sierra Leonean and Nigerian women. It was in 2003 when peace agreement was signed and the actions of WIPNET went from resolving conflict to building peace.

Ending this chapter will explore a very vibrant women movement in Ghana. The 31st December women’s movement has been amongst the vibrant movements in Ghana and Africa at large. This movement was formed with the main goal of mobilising women, particularly the disadvantaged and the vulnerable in both rural and urban centres. This movement wanted to understand the governance of the country and seek for participation in democratic system that was evolving before them since 51% of the population was women. This movement strongly believe that women were not adequately rewarded or appreciated for their good work hence the need to agitate for since they were playing significant role in our socio-economic development. The activities of this feminist movement were to promote activities at the grass root level which would empower women through education, management of their profits, capacity building which enable women developed new sense of culture and attitude to take change of their lives and be part of governance from grass root level to national level. Through the empowerment of this feminist movement, many women became assembly members, DCEs, ministers of state and few to mention which vindicated the slogan”31st December women’s movement that the only place for women not kitchen”. This movement spearheaded the advocacy and got the intestate succession law passed PNDC Law 111 in 1985 and this benefited the nation at large.

Lest I forget, it was as a result of this movement that led to the creation of the Ministry for Women and Children Affairs in 2001 by Ex-President J.A Kuffour. This ministry creation was their effort and therefore must be given credence. They really empowered women.

To crown it all, women’s movement have played vital roles in West Africa and therefore cannot be underrated but must be given credence for the good work done.

REFERENCES

Michael Fleishman, “African women struggle for a seat at the peace table” In Africa renewal, vol. 6 page 4 (February,2003).

John Paul Lederach and Angela Jill Lederach,” Women of Liberia`s mass action for Peace” In the scavenger retrieved on February 28,2011.

Mary H. Moran and H. Anne Pitcher, “Basket case’ and the Poster child’: Explaining the end of civil conflicts in Liberia and Mozambique” In third world quarterly, vol.25, No.3(2004), pp.501-519.

“Ghanaian women`s role in development since independence”. ww.ghanaweb.com. Retrieved 2017-03-18

Hojlund Madsen, Diana (2012), “The role of women’s movement in Ghana “Gender & Development pp.573-584.



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