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FON, a new era of feminism in Africa.

My experience supporting the First Meeting of the Advisory and Regional Coordination Committee of the FON Program in Africa.

By Martine Ouédraogo, Coordination Assistant (Junior Professional Program).

As a member of the Organizing Committee, I took part in the first face to face meeting of the Advisory and Regional Coordination Committee of the FON project in Assinie, Côte d'Ivoire from July 25 to 28, 2023. FON has launched its first call for expressions of interest on May 5, 2023 and the purpose of this meeting was mainly to review all applications received and make final decisions on the feminist organizations of the first cohort of organisations to receive FON funds in Africa and the amounts to be granted.

As a reminder, Feminist Opportunities now (FON) is a project funded by the French Development Agency (AFD) and the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs as part of their feminist foreign policy, whose primary objective is to strengthen the capacities of feminists movements, so that they are in a better position to prevent and respond to gender-based violence. IPPF - AR , as leader of the consortium, which is also composed by CR E A , Empow'Her , the International Federation of Human Rights and Médecins du Monde France (MdM) , manages the implementation of the project which will be carried out in ten countries on three continents including Mexico and Colombia (led by MdM), Bangladesh and Sri Lanka (led by CREA) and Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Guinea, Côte d'Ivoire, Kenya and Niger (led by IPPF-AR).

Five representatives of the consortium organizations and six representatives of feminist civil society organizations worked together on the selection criteria and transparently selected the feminist organizations that FON will support in this first phase of the program in the six African countries of the project. These 6 representatives who, voluntarily collaborate with the FON Project, Theatre for a Change (TfaC), AKILIDADA, ATHENA Network, Safe Abortion Action Fund (SAAF), Initiative Pananetugri pour le Bienêtre de la Femme ( IPBF ) and African Sex Workers Alliance (ASWA)

FON workshop

The work was sometimes organized in groups, but the teams always met in plenary to share their different points of view concerning the applications. Some members who could not make the trip, joined online. The discussions were very animated, sometimes stormy, but always respectful and with a common objective: to succeed in selecting the feminist organizations most in need of financial and technical support. It should be emphasized that it was necessary to select about five applications per country – that is to say about thirty applications in all -, which was not an easy task in view of the large number of applications received, most of them being of very good quality.

On Friday July 28, 2023, representatives of the French Development Agency joined the premises to participate in the discussions and provide answers to the concerns of the members of the Committee.

Emy SICARD DELACE, Project Manager on Gender Issues at AFD in Cote d'Ivoire, and Nelly RELIAT , Health and Social Protection Project Manager at AFD, the French Development Agency (donor of the Project) recognized the fact that there are a significant number of civil society organizations that need funding, but are structurally excluded from funding because they are not structured, and sometimes even not legally registered.

It is with this in mind that AFD wants to support these CSOs, in all their diversity, by building their capacities, promoting training between peers, and facilitating networking. They expect these selected organizations to be able to better respond to the multiple challenges of gender-based violence in their contexts with a feminist approach.

A final meeting is scheduled by video conference this week to finalize the process and draw lessons for future calls for applications.

As a young feminist, I believe that the FON Project will foster cohesion among feminist organizations in Africa so that the fight for gender equality will be a reality one day not far away .

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Côte d'Ivoire