Akina Mama wa Afrika (AMwA)

Feminist Leadership Development

For long I had struggled with the question of resources being channeled to hosting conferences/ meetings, and trainings whether at national, regional or international levels. Why would we bring together a conference costing thousands of dollars to discuss questions of ending poverty? Yet to me that money could be invested in building a school, fulfilling a failed promise of sanitary pads, supporting a teenage pregnant girl to return to school or even provide the comprehensive psycho-social and economic support that Boko Haram returnees desperately need… I always asked myself. Irene Kagoya 

Following a two day training on the Human Rights Based Approach vs. Needs Based Approach, by Global South I flipped the coin. I gained an in-depth appreciation of the need for a Human Rights Based Approach (HRBA) in our programming and/ work as we strive to secure the #AfricaWomenWant.

While I then celebrated and perhaps many who still hold the Needs Based Approach in high esteem celebrate it, this approach merely places a greater burden on the citizenry. Citizens are forced to assume the roles/ responsibilities of governments to ensure that people have access to the basic human rights.On the other hand the Human Rights Based Approach seeks to awaken the consciousness to demand and hold our leaders accountable to the provision of these rights as enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948). Through this approach citizens are able to fully appreciate the power within that can be utilized to cause change, the power with that can be used to collectively realize a goal , power over that can be exercised with authority to cause change and Power to that we each have to potentially bring change.

Indeed unless our people are able to fully appreciate the Human Rights Based Approach it will be very difficult for us to secure the #AfricaWomenWant. For so long we have continued to demand and praise the area Member of Parliament  for providing us with the village Ambulance but many never realize that if we applied the Human Rights Based Approach(HRBA) fully we would be able to push government to ensure that each Village Health Centre has an ambulance; an approach that would be more sustainable and inclusive.

To some people who may also prefer the Needs Based Approach, the acronym NGO translates to “Nothing Going On” but it is not within the mandate of NGOs to build a parallel structure to government; it’s not the responsibility of NGOs to build schools, hospitals, roads nor provide water. NGOs applying the HRBA are here to hold government accountable to their duties, strengthen the capacities of organizations and/ or individuals to apply the HRBA, sensitize citizens about their rights and responsibilities, and develop government institutional capacities to ensure that they respond to the needs of the citizenry. The Community role is not to be RECIPIENTS but to DEMAND for their rights.

Therefore the next time we host a mega conference do not be quick to judge and say NGos are only here to make noise but rather appreciate it as a process to securing our rights. This is the only way we can deepen our democracy at every level, ensure the inclusion of all regardless of our differences, address needs as rights and claim them, and also hold our states accountable to their obligations.

I am proud to be working with an organization like Akina Mama wa Afrika that is applying the HRBA and if your organization has not taken this route, our doors are always open…


Compiled by Irene Kagoya,

Communications & Advocacy Officer, Akina Mama wa Afrika