Our partner, FEMNET, launched the #DignifiedResponse campaign and the Pan-African Women’s COVID-19 platform on April 28. We interviewed Memory Kachambwa, Executive Director, FEMNET to learn more about the campaign and the importance of the new platform to COVID-19 response and the feminist movement in Africa.
EM2030: Why is a Pan-African Women’s COVID-19 platform critical now?
Memory Kachambwa: Now, even more than ever as the world battles an unprecedented pandemic, unless African women and girls unite as we intervene to the pandemic then we are bound to lose out more and suffer the bigger brunt of the impacts of this ravaging disease. We continue to witness the day-to-day response to the pandemic that is terribly omitting or excluding aspects that directly impact and/or affect women which should instead be streamlined within the actual response. This is why a Pan-African approach towards compelling our governments and stakeholders not to forget or leave out the special needs of women and girls is critical at this point. We go further and much stronger as a unit — sticks in a bundle are much harder to break!
EM2030: What does a dignified response to COVID-19 look like, particularly for Africa’s girls and women?
MK: A #DignifiedResponse is the response that is NOT gender-blind; it is a response which from the on-set is alive to the fact that men and women suffer the impacts of situations such as a pandemic differently and more often than not, women suffer the heavier response.
A #DignifiedResponse upholds gender-disaggregated data — only in this way, will the response be equal and inclusive of the specific needs especially for women and girls.
A #DignifiedResponse ensures that as people stay home, those homes are indeed safe from domestic abuse and sexual violence; that homes are not riskier environments for women and girls caught in the lock-down and curfews — that homes are indeed safe and secure.
A #DignifiedResponse prioritises access to Sexual Reproductive Health & Rights; access to contraception and health services and is keen to ensure that pregnant and lactating mothers are on the frontline for care and support even within a pandemic.
A #DignifiedResponse ensures that people living with disabilities, especially women are specifically cared for lest they are further disenfranchised within approaches that exclude them and their disabilities.
A #DignifiedResponse has the face of women in all their diversities; women from poverty-stricken areas, rural areas, conflict-torn areas and women sexual minorities whose plight for dignity might be lost to interventions against the COVID19 Pandemic.
EM2030: How can feminists outside of Africa join the campaign?
MK: Our Pan-African Women’s COVID-19 Platform is open to ALL women from Africa and the diaspora in all their diversities. All the content on this platform is generated and contributed by women of Africa, for Africa.
For any further clarification, kindly contact Mwanahamisi Singano, FEMNET’s Head of Programs, who is also leading the African women COVID-19 response on email firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com
About FEMNET: FEMNET — the African Women’s Development and Communication Network is a pan- African, membership-based feminist network based in Nairobi with over 800 members across 46 African countries. FEMNET envisions an African society where gender equality is achieved and women and girls enjoy all their rights and live in dignity.