ABANTU AS AN ORGANISATION
What is our mission and purpose?
ABANTU exists to strengthen the capacity of women to participate in decision-making at all levels, to influence policies from a gender perspective and to address inequalities and injustices in social relations.
We seek to achieve this through, advocacy, training, research institutional development and networking with other organisations committed to the same principles.
"ABANTU has the vision of a world where empowered women and men advocate collectively on gender inequalities through promoting transformational leadership and development for a just society."
What is ABANTU?
ABANTU for Development is a registered non-governmental organisation, established in October 1991. It is an NGO in Special Consultative Status with the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) of the United Nations.
In the West Africa region, there are two offices, a regional office in Accra, Ghana and a country office in Kaduna, Nigeria. The Regional Office for Western Africa (ROWA), based in Accra, Ghana was registered under the Companies Code in December 1998 and launched in March 1999. ABANTU-ROWA coordinates all ABANTU programmes in the West Africa region including the country programme activities of the Kaduna office which was set up earlier in 1997. ABANTU-ROWA has gained credibility in the region as an effective gender justice and policy advocacy organisation. It is also popularly referred to as the “NGO of NGOs” as a result of its expertise and experience of strengthening the management and service delivery capacities of NGOs and CBOs that have been working with and for women in the sub-region since 1997. There is also an autonomous office of ABANTU in the Eastern Africa Region known as ABANTU-ROESA, established in 1991. There exists a close relationship between ABANUT-ROWA and ABANTU-ROESA.
In 2003, ABANTU–ROWA initiated a research and advocacy programme that led to the creation of a process for developing a document known as The Women’s Manifesto for Ghana. This initiative has also led to the formation of a Coalition on the Women’s Manifesto for Ghana (WMC) which is hosted by ABANTU for Development’s ROWA office.
ABANTU is currently focusing on the following key areas of development as contained in the 12 Critical Areas of Concern in the Beijing Platform for Action, and echoed in The Women’s Manifesto for Ghana: governance, climate change and peace-building. We produce an informative quarterly magazine that focuses on the gender implications of policies: ABANTU NEWS. The magazine is distributed to NGOs, members of parliament, funding and development partners and individuals.
ABANTU has helped to strengthen the capacity of women to participate in decision-making, to influence policies from a gender perspective, and to address inequalities and injustices in social relations. The Women’s
Manifesto Coalition hosted by ABANTU has been effectively used to advance ABANTU’s goal in this thematic area. Several activities have been undertaken to this end, with satisfactory outcomes. Although the ultimate goal of getting more women in parliament and other decision-making positions has been an uphill task, there has been enhanced gender awareness with more women getting actively involved in political processes. With regards to national general elections, there has been a steady increase in women’s involvement in various
capacities: as election observers, polling agents, electoral officers and reporters.
Other specific outcomes include:
• The institutionalisation of a biennial conference of District Assemblywomen from all the districts in Ghana since 2003, where Assemblywomen continue to meet, learn, share, reflect and chart new
directions towards women’s increased participation and effectiveness in the
• An inter-party caucus has been formed to advocate for women’s political of participation, following a yearly modular training programme organised by ABANTU, in collaboration with Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES) and
Women in Broadcasting (WIB) since 2006. It was based on a seven month modular course developed and used in training women from seven political parties in Ghana who subsequently set up the caucus.
• Recommendations for effective strategies to enhance women’s participation in politics came out of a number of workshops on the theme ‘Preparations to enhancing women’s participation in politics in election
2008’. These have been used to strengthen ABANTU’s strategies for enhancing women’s political participation. For example in 2008, ABANTU’s advocacy and capacity building activities targeted women aspirants, the electorate and the media. Twenty-four trained mentors including nine ABANTU staff participated in the 2008 elections as
officially accredited election observers In mobilising the various groups, actors and interested parties around the idea of developing and producing a Women’s Manifesto for Ghana document, there was the acceptance that women are not homogenous. Women differ in various aspects. However, in initiating the idea to develop The Women’s Manifesto for Ghana, ABANTU recognised that women can draw similarities from their experiences as a marginalised people and work together and build a common platform that would enable them demand redress of their concerns. The document was researched, developed and produced by the collective effort of The Coalition on the Women’s Manifesto for Ghana composed of women’s
organisations, various civil society groups, NGOs, policy-makers, representatives of government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs), organised labour, professional organisations, media women and men, interested individuals and representatives of registered political parties. Major achievements under the production of the Manifesto include:
• The formation of a broad coalition of NGOs and other civil society organisations as the institutional framework to work collaboratively to promote the wider dissemination, acceptance, use and implementation of The Manifesto demands by government, political parties, constitutional bodies, the legislature, the judiciary, law enforcement agencies as well as by CSOs themselves
• The document has been translated into four (4) local languages: Akan, Dagbani, Ewe, and Ga to promote wider dissemination among a wide range of users who can read and write in the selected local languages. This process has strengthened women’s indigenous knowledge and participation Members of the Women’s Manifesto Coalition mobilising and harnessing energies for the task of promoting gender justice in governance processes using local languages
• The Manifesto is used as required course material in some tertiary institutions in Ghana
• The Manifesto has been adopted by the Commonwealth Foundation as adocument of best practice, while the African Gender Institute in South Africa, civil society organisations in Uganda, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Gambia have consulted with the Coalition’s Secretariat to learn more from the Ghanaian experience
• The document has been a recipient of two international Awards. In 2005, the Association of Women’s Rights in Development (AWID) gave an Award that was received in Bangkok, Thailand, at AWID’s 10th International Congress. Following an international competition, ABANTU/ Women’s Manifesto Coalition received an Award from
UNIFEM-Germany in 2009, which was received at a special ceremony in Bonn, Germany.
The overall focus of our three-year plan is to collaborate with other NGOs, the women’s movement, regional agencies and governments in the region to strengthen relationships and capacities of NGOs working on women’s advancement and gender equality in the region. These organisations will be the main focus of ABANTU ROWA activities. We will also work with policy makers in the region in order to have the desired gender responsive impact in the three programme areas of Governance, Climate Change and Peace-building.
On poverty, HIV/AIDS, and ICTs, we do not plan to introduce new programmes. We shall instead, ensure that those concerns and their gender implications are integrated into our programmes. Our main concern will be to get policy makers, civil society organisations and women’s organisations to deal with poverty, HIV/AIDS, and ICTs from a development and gender justice perspective. We also anticipate working on strengthening capacities of organisations working on those issues.
We also aim to improve and strengthen the management capacities of ABANTU ROWA so that it can render improved services to its beneficiaries. The programmes we have designed aim to reach poor people, especially poor women and create space for them to engage with policy makers and articulate their concerns as well as their proposals for poverty eradication.
Our support and promotion of the rights of women in peace and situations of conflict is a thread running throughout the plan as is our commitment to continue drawing on the skills and experiences of women, particularly in engaging with policies and in advocating for policies that improve their material conditions. The highlights, low points and learning generated by the programmes will be documented in a number of publications connected with the plan, including our magazine, ABANTU News.