Vagina, vagina, vagina to vagina!

ImageA rallying cry of ‘Vagina! Vagina! Vagina to vagina!’ rang out as the Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL) began its Southern Africa Planning and Skills-building Workshop.

For the next six days, delegates from across the region will develop a sexual rights advocacy plan, with a specific focus on realising social justice for lesbian women and gender-nonconforming people.

This workshop represents an important next step in achieving the outcomes that emerged from CAL’s 2008 Maputo General Assembly, where members agreed on the need for targeted sub-regional advocacy action on sexual rights. And with growing interest in, and ongoing victimisation of, LGBTIQ people in Southern Africa, this is an opportune time for organisations across CAL’s network to collate their efforts, experiences and resources into a targeted advocacy initiative.

Taking a sub-regional approach will not only allow for members to engage directly in the decision-making process but will also acknowledge and respond to the varied political and social contexts in which we live and work. 

With the theme of ‘Organising in Hostile Contexts’, this week’s gathering will focus primarily on movement-building and consciousness-raising as well as how a sub-regional advocacy plan can be effectively led and implemented.

At the same time, the meeting will allow members to share and learn from each other’s experiences – both as activists and as individuals – and to further build solidarity within the movement. It is for this reason that CAL has also invited key partner organisations, such as those focused on abortion rights, sex workers or women living with HIV/AIDS, to engage in the planning process.

The workshop will follow a ten-step feminist-centred process that will enable participants to move from identifying a starting-point and analysing the notion of sexual rights through to the development of concrete demands for change.

Proudly and staunchly feminist, CAL is dedicated to fighting patriarchy and the oppression of women and, more specifically, to defending the human rights of lesbian women and gender-nonconforming people.

The Coalition is also committed to raising visibility of its work and the broader feminist movement, and will thus be providing regular updates from the workshop. CAL has partnered with Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action, an archival organisation dedicated to preserving and documenting the experiences of queer Africans, to provide blog coverage of the proceedings. Be sure to check this space for an overview of the major discussions and outcomes. 

Workshop coverage provided by Gay and Lesbian Memory in Action in collaboration with the Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL).

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