The 10th Africa Conference on SHR is a landmark moment bringing together feminist activists, Governments, UN Agencies, development partners and civil society from across the Continent to learn, connect and build consensus to end violence against women and girls in our lifetimes.
ACSHR is convened by the African Federation for Sexual Health and Rights, and hosted by Purposeful in partnership with the Government of Sierra Leone and international collaborators.
In October 2020, Purposeful and partners interviewed 2,239 out-of-school girls, aged between 13–19 years old as part of the Girls’ Circles programme. Their responses affirm what we know – that girls’ lives in Sierra Leone, especially those who are out of school, are characterised by multiple hardships: little to no education; the ubiquity of transactional sex; teen pregnancy; and everyday violence. But also, that to be a girl is to resist, and girls are primed to change their lives for the better when there is a shift in their ability to access and imagine their choices.
Despite ongoing efforts, global philanthropy remains largely an elitist, top-down process. That colonial model, however, is starting to change. In recent years, there has been a concerted push to make philanthropy more democratic, responsive and inclusive by shifting power to the affected communities and constituencies that we seek to serve. One exciting way to share power is through participatory grantmaking—the practice of ceding grantmaking power to affected community members and constituencies.
Like any other crisis, the pandemic has exposed and exacerbated the existing systemic oppression and violence that positions girls and young people as particularly vulnerable. The Global Resilience Fund was the coming together by those across the funding ecosystem committed to resourcing girls and young feminists’ activism, who recognised that something bold and propositional was required in this moment. Moving resources to young activists is full of complexity, tension, and the profound possibility for transformation, and this work is demonstrating that a new kind of humanitarian response is possible.