The African Women's Development and Communication Network (FEMNET) was set up in 1988 to share experiences, information and strategies among African women's non-governmental organisations (NGOs) through advocacy, training and communications so as to advance African women's development, equality and other human rights.
FEMNET aims to strengthen the role and contribution of African NGOs focusing on women's development, equality and other human rights. It also aims to provide a channel through which these NGOs can reach one another and share experiences, information and strategies to as to improve their work on African women's development, equality and other human rights.
FEMNET is governed by a Constitution and the following governance and administrative structure:
- National focal points in African countries whose representatives
attend a tri-annual Programming Conference and General Assembly;
- An elected Executive Board which includes two Board members per
sub-region and a Chairperson. In addition, there are two Ex-Officio Board
members (immediate past Chairperson and the Executive Director);
- An elected Board of Trustees to oversee FEMNET's assets; and
- A Secretariat that implements FEMNET's programmes and is headed
by an Executive Director.
FEMNET's specific objectives include:
- exchanging experiences in planning, implementing and evaluating women's programmes and projects through interaction with NGOs, development agencies and relevant regional and international intergovernmental bodies;
- promoting women's activities in Africa through the strengthening of existing organisations and the establishment of new ones as may be needed;
- playing vanguard and catalytic roles in the treatment of feminist issues which cannot be handled by government gender mechanisms due to the threat that such issues pose to patriarchal states;
- promoting the better utilisation of African women's NGOs by development agencies and regional and international intergovernmental organisations (IGOs) such as the African Union (AU) and the various United Nations (UN) agencies;
- mobilising resources for African women's development, equality and other women's human rights by local, regional and international sources; and enabling collective action by African women's movements in order to tackle regional gender issues.
Since its inception in 1988, FEMNET has played a leadership role for African women's NGOs at regional and international decision-making and policy fora. FEMNET has gained recognition as the convenor of African women’s movement in key circles, including the United Nations agencies, African Union, NEPAD processes and among women’s regional NGOs. This recognition has resulted from persistent pursuit of its networking mandate and the quality leadership FEMNET has offered over the years.
FEMNET’s major goal is to ensure that African women’s organisations, lobby groups, decision-makers, like-minded organisations are able to gain conceptual clarity of key concepts and issues relating to the empowerment of women and gender equality. Further, that given this knowledge, they will be in a position, to act towards creating an environment of gender equality and social justice and to bring an end to all forms of discrimination against women.
FEMNET works in three main programme areas:
The Advocacy Programme
The Communications Programme
The Capacity Building Programme
The Advocacy Programme includes projects designed to evolve approaches and methodologies for dealing with barriers to the implementation of the Dakar and Beijing Platforms for Action (PFAs). FEMNET was the focal organisation for African women's preparations for participation in the 1995 Beijing Fourth World Conference on Women. FEMNET continues to collaborate with African women's non governmental organisations (NGOs) on follow-up activities to the Beijing NGO Forum, the parallel intergovernmental conference and the Beijing Plus Five review process. The programme has also been involved in mainstreaming gender into regional processes and institutions, most notably engaging with the African Union and its specialized mechanisms. The advocacy programme has also been involved in promoting the economic, social and cultural rights of African women.
The Communications Programme is the core programme of the Network. It is a vital avenue through which FEMNET generates data and information, facilitates the exchange and sharing of this information on women's human rights issues at international, regional and national levels to its various constituencies across Africa and globally. The programme seeks to optimumly use ICTs to provide African women with qualitative strategic information on women's development, equality and human rights and to build the capacity of African women's organizations to produce content for advocacy.
The Capacity-building Programme plays an important role in empowering and building networking expertise, skills and the capacities of its members through training in critical areas such as women’s human rights, gender analysis and mainstreaming, leadership, advocacy, ICTs etc. In 2002, FEMNET developed a model for training of trainers in gender mainstreaming which is applicable to the 12 priority areas outlined in the African and Beijing Platforms for Action. The model has been tested at the national level in a number of African states and has been developed to explicitly address sectoral concerns. For example, several subject-based manuals and resource books for gender mainstreaming have been developed in areas such as gender equality, macroeconomics, and sexual reproductive health. These have proved to be useful information materials and tools for advocacy and training.
Following the development of its Strategic Plan for the period 2008-2012, the following Vision, Mission and Core Values will guide FEMNET.
African women's collective leadership for equality, peace and sustainable development.
FEMNET seeks to facilitate and coordinate the sharing of experiences, ideas, information, and strategies for human rights promotion among African women's organisations through networking, communication, capacity-building and advocacy at the regional and international levels.
FEMNET's Core Values
Commitment and passion for women's advancement;
Integrity, credibility, transparency and accountability;
Unity in diversity, solidarity, inclusiveness, respect and tolerance;
Professionalism, effectiveness, creativity and responsibility;
Justice, equality and democracy.
As a pan-African, membership-based network, FEMNET has continued to play a leading role in building the women’s movement in Africa and ensuring that African women's voices influence decisions made at different levels that impact on their lives. FEMNET links up and implements various activities in collaboration with sub-regional networks and national focal points (NFPs).
Beginning August 2008, FEMNET embarked on a project that seeks to review and strengthen its members communication and networking linkages at country and sub-regional levels. The purpose is to ensure more involvement of the member organisations in FEMNET's programs, mobilize new member organisations and update its database of women organisations in the region, strengthen the connection with women operating at the grassroots level and minimize the difficulties in obtaining continuous feedback from its constituency at different levels. To make this happen, FEMNET idenitified national women's networks and umbrella organizations in five countries: Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire, Tunisia, Uganda and Zambia to be the lead in establishing the country level NFPs. Most of the NFPs identified are expected to sign Memorandum of Understanding (MOUs) with FEMNET, specifying and agreeing on ways to collaborate in their various programme activities.
Visit FEMNET's Web Site to learn More.