Influencing the agendas on violence against African women and girls
We’ve been advocating for African women and girls since the 1980s, when we campaigned tirelessly for the criminalisation of FGM in the UK. In the three decades since, we’ve continued our important work, embedding ourselves in communities to ensure that marginalised voices are heard and bringing about sustainable change – change visible both locally and in meaningful policy terms.
Campaigning to criminalise FGM in the UK
We have made huge strides in influencing anti-FGM legislation, playing a crucial role in securing the UK’s first law banning FGM (the 1985 Prohibition of Female Circumcision Act), as well as the updated FGM laws that followed, namely the 2003 Female Genital Mutilation Act and the 2015 Serious Crime Act.
Campaigning to make child marriage illegal in the UK
On 28 April 2022, our years-long policy campaign to end child marriage culminated in hard-won victory when the Marriage and Civil Partnership (Minimum Age) Bill passed its third and final reading in Parliament, before receiving royal assent in the House of Lords. The bill protects children from child marriage in two crucial ways. Firstly, it removes legal exceptions which allowed children to marry in civil ceremonies at 16 with parental consent, increasing the minimum age to 18. Secondly, it criminalises any other ceremonies of marriage which take place involving a child, such as religious marriages.
The end child marriage campaign was a partnership led by Pauline Latham MP, in collaboration with Garden Court Chambers, Dr Charlotte Proudman and the Girls Not Brides UK co-chairs – FORWARD, the Independent Yemen Group, Karma Nirvana and the Iranian and Kurdish Women’s Rights Organisation (IKWRO).
Raising our voices
We recognise that change can only be achieved through action taken together. Our international advocacy work focuses on building relationships, growing networks and knowledge-sharing platforms with diaspora women’s organisations – to strengthen advocacy action and to enable more effective engagement with policymakers in the UK, EU and Africa.
We are proud to be appointed the Secretariat of the African Women’s Diaspora Network, an African women-led collective of individuals and organisations from the diaspora working towards attaining gender equality and empowerment of African women and girls. The network’s first event, Celebrating 15 years of the Maputo Protocol explored the contribution of African diaspora women to improving African women and girls rights.
Our Africa Diaspora Forum in partnership with The Girl Generation (2015) brought together 80 women from across the UK – all active in the promotion of gender equality, human rights and development. This forum offered a platform for African diaspora women to network, showcase and acknowledge the positive impact participating organisations and individuals’ work has achieved – bringing us closer to equal rights for African women and girls.
The forum will continue to develop actionable strategies and increase the visibility and involvement of Africa diaspora organisations addressing the rights violations and needs of African women and girls in the UK and Europe.
This aspect of ADAPT’s/FORWARD’s work is focused on the prevention, protection, public awareness and provisioning services through ensuring the voices and needs of African women and girls are heard and listened to in political spaces.
We aim to influence policy developments and discourses at all levels, on all forms of violence against women and girls, particularly FGM, child marriage and child motherhood. Through strong evidence based on research carried out in our UK and Africa programmes we conduct targeted campaign and policy activities in line with our strategic plan.
Recognising that we cannot do this alone we work with networks -domestically and internationally- including the End Violence against Women Coalition, Girls Not Brides, the Gender and Development Network and the End FGM European Network all in an effort to amplify our advocacy messages. FORWARD remains Co-Chair of the Girls Not Brides UK national partnership working with Pauline Latham MP to bring forward legislation of criminalise all child marriages. As Co-Chair of the End FGM European Network we are working to ensure that the issues of FGM in Europe are strongly articulated from the diaspora perspective.
This year, FORWARD staff and 4 Tuwezeshe Fellows attended the European Development Days 2019, highlighting the positive roles that young women leaders can play in addressing inequalities particularly in media (edutainment) and in supporting African young women to be at the forefront of their own campaigns against VAWG.