The gender and women’s rights programme focuses on strengthening the women’s movement and ensuring that OSISA’s partners are able to address gender inequality in their own communities and social context – regardless of the focus of their projects. Specifically, OSISA’s gender and women’s rights programme supports initiatives that promote advocacy, networking and capacity-building in the following areas:
- Strengthening the women’s movement in southern Africa. Due in part to its own success, the women’s movement has lost a number of leaders in the region over the past decade. As women’s rights have taken on more prominence (albeit still insufficient), many in the activist sector have moved into key state positions, or have left to work in international development agencies. While the once-vibrant sector has achieved many policy and legislative gains, the departure of key figures has made it difficult translate these successes into tangible results for ordinary women. OSISA supports initiatives aimed at rebuilding women’s groups through the provision of core institutional support, among other things.
- Supporting young women’s leadership. Another reason for the weakening of the women’s movement is that there have been few focused efforts aimed at fostering young women’s leadership both within the women’s movement but also in the broader NGO sector. OSISA works with young women and their organisations through a range of capacity-building efforts, to ensure that they are able to participate in decision-making processes. Promoting women’s access to the law. OSISA recognises that a key strategy for the women’s movement in the 80s and 90s was to address sexism, discrimination and women’s rights violations by passing laws and winning court cases aimed at protecting women. However, as with many other groups, women’s associations found that legal processes are often long, and require significant resources and training – making them inaccessible for the majority of women who need them. OSISA supports initiatives aimed at providing greater legal support and knowledge of the law.