In the framework of promoting human rights defence in Africa, several organisations carry out activities in order to hold governments accountable on their promises. However, some of these Civil Society Organizations distinguish themselves by an effective presence in several countries of the continent through capacity building activities, research, advocacy and documentation aiming at respecting and promoting human rights.
RFLD (Réseau des Femmes Leaders pour le Développement) – Women Leaders Network for Development, a regional organisation based in West Africa, working with more than forty (40) organisations and led by women, belongs to the small group of active organisations in this area.
Objectives well achieved
The vision of RFLD is to build effective cooperation to promote and protect the rights of young people and women and ensure their participation in the decision-making process. The network’s mission is to empower people through awareness raising, training and education programmes, and effective advocacy using communication technologies.
RFLD is quite special as compared to other continental organisations working in the field of human rights thanks to its effective and dynamic works with Civil Society Organizations in about twenty countries: Benin; Burkina Faso; Congo – Brazzaville; Ivory Coast; Gabon; Guinea – Conakry; Mali; Niger; Democratic Republic of Congo; Senegal; Togo; The Gambia; Sierra Leone; Liberia; Ghana; Nigeria; Cameroon; Mauritania; Central African Republic; and Chad.
The network operates in the following areas: Civic space and human rights; Economic and social justice; Fight against harmful practices; Peace and security; and advocacy for women’s political participation.
Sensitisation and capacity building workshops have so far enabled RFLD to achieve its objectives. According to RFLD’s Monitoring and Evaluation Officer, Mrs. Florence ENIAYEHOU, “feedback from our activities prompted us to conclude that the most critical challenges that we must all face in the next five (5) years are the following: unequal distribution of water – VAWG – Harmful practices – Lack of representation in decision spheres – economic injustice ; Climate change; A complex security situation ; and Civic space strongly challenged “.
Challenges for the next five years
During the period 2023-2028, RFLD will work intensively to strengthen citizen and civil society action for a more fair Africa through these 4 strategic objectives: To further promote women’s rights, sexual and reproductive health as well as their representation in decision-making bodies; To promote through our activities civic freedoms and democratic values with a focus on human rights; To continue the fight for economic justice for women; To strengthen and consolidate the principle of participatory governance, civil society’s capacity for innovation and media development.
According to our Program Director Asnath AISSO, “Only with respect to the barometers we have set for ourselves that these objectives would be met. Here are some of them: The repeal of laws and practices that restrict women’s freedoms; The effective participation of women in the judiciary sector and in the political arena; The strengthening of legal frameworks that guarantee the protection of activists rights, journalists and independent media; Ending poverty through actions based on social development, inclusive economic growth, environmental protection and social justice”.
Mrs. Agueh Dossi Sekonnou Gloria, President of RFLD, concluded that “Upon consulting our partners and members in order to establish the 2023-2028 strategic plan, we do acknowledge that we are responsible for the efficient use of valuable resources in the most effective way possible so as to represent a safe and genuine channel of expression for the civil society and the human rights defenders as well”.
This comes as an evidence that RFLD is more than ever committed to promoting human rights on the continent. The next five-year period will particularly be hectic in view of the major challenges listed above. However, with the experience and expertise acquired by RFLD, no doubt one can boldly say that objectives are sure to be met.