On the 10 -11th of October 2019, the Africa ACT Alliance Gender Justice Community of Practice (CoP) held its first meeting. The meeting was convened and hosted by the Uganda ACT Forum, with the support of Dan Church Aid (DCA).
The main priority for this meeting was to facilitate and support Africa Gender Justice group’s contributions and influence at the regional level. Through the CoP, ACT members in Africa will have a chance to share experiences, learn from each other, contextualize and set priorities on issues of gender justice, and drive joint strategic advocacy campaigns at the national, regional and international levels.
Twenty-three participants from Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Kenya, Liberia, Mozambique, Somalia, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Sudan, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zimbabwe – shared their frustrations and hopes on gender justice providing an analysis of their contexts and the challenges they are facing. Some of the challenges included exclusion of women and girls, non-compliance to policy frameworks, power inequalities, impunity and the backlash that the broad civil society is experiencing on gender justice. The shared feeling within the group was that unequal gender power structures are normalized within societies, and sometimes even driven by or in the name of faith.
Nevertheless, it was also noted that despite the push backs, some faith actors are breaking the norms and are countering the regressive narrative by courageously addressing gender-based violence, taking actions to overcome silence and providing leadership and a voice to those who are experiencing gender injustice.
From the discussion, it was clear that there is an urgent need for different faith-based voices to come together and speak out against injustice. ACT Alliance provides an excellent platform for its members to define their work in the region, identify common challenges and opportunities and establish new pathways for working together more effectively to advance gender justice.
The meeting also explored joint international and regional synergies within global frameworks like the 2030 Agenda. UNFPA Uganda country representatives provided participants with information on the upcoming gender-related processes on ICPD+25/Nairobi Summit and the Beijing platform for Action +25, and emphasized the opportunities for faith-based actors in participating in such spaces.
Gladys Nairuba, Programme Officer, Active Citizenship at Dan Church Aid Uganda was elected Chair of the regional CoP and Zanele Makombe, Programme Advisor, Gender and SRHR at ACT Ubumbano as co-chair.