Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Feminist Leadership and Movement Building Institute 2011

Nairobi, Kenya
Eunice Namugwe

The institute started on Monday, 06 December 2011 with an exciting informal session on introductions of all participants. CAL is privileged to a part of this space and process. As the 1st day unfolded we had a presentation on the history of feminism dating back to the matriliny era, to patriarchy and feminism.The discussions highlight how feminists have challenge, resist and contribute to change  power structures within the social, economic and political spheres.

For the past two (2) days, we have had focused discussions on feminism as an ideology and the feminist struggles in Africa,looking broadly at relationship between the different movements and how to build sustainable movements. 

The institute is hosted by CREA and YWLI The Feminist Leadership and Movement Building Institute is a week-long course designed to strengthen feminist leadership, strategies and collective power for social transformation in East Africa.The Institute also aims to build the skills of participants for mobilising oppressed/marginalised women to claim their rights.

Still looking forward to the discussions in the next two (2) days and more updates on the institute.

Monday, 28 November 2011



Are you a woman organizing? Are you defying patriarchy? Are you working to end any kind of oppressions? Are you defending rights somewhere in the world?

On November 29th, the world will mark women human rights defenders day.
A Human rights defender is a person who, individually or in collectives (movements/ organisations) with others, acts to promote or protect human rights.

More than ever, today, everywhere in the world, there are women’s movements, feminist movements, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) movements, social justice movements, etc. These movements exist because everyday, individuals are organizing, speaking out, resisting, defying, claiming rights, painting a poster to express their rage or hope or ideas, building political consciousness, creating new ways to make our world a better place where we can all live in freedom. Despite the fact that women’s contributions are often invisibilised, minimized or erased when stories of movements are told, many movements are built on the backs of women, and many are inspired into being by the bravery of women. Many women are running or are active organisations and movements.

Who is the Coalition of African Lesbians

The Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL) is network of organizations that are committed to speak out and challenge patriarchy, heterosexism and homophobia in Africa. The network was started in 2003 as an idea in response to growing invisibility and lack of political voice of lesbian women, bisexual women and transdiverse persons within sexuality activism in Africa. At the core of CAL’s work is support for and amplifying the voices and experiences of human rights defenders.

About this call for submissions

Are you falling asleep with your computer on your lap?
Do your anxiety levels hit the roof as you approach your place of work?
Do you find yourself thinking about work in your sleep?

Then, you are suffering from Human Rights Defender Syndrome.

On the occasion of International day for women human rights defenders, CAL invites you to share your story as a woman human rights defender, from any part of the world, from whatever space you are defending rights from. This call is directed at all women human rights defenders including but not limited to Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgendered women.

You can make your submissions in the following formats:

·         Written story (preferably accompanied by pictures where possible): 1500-2500 words

1.   Photo Essays: submitted as TIFF or JPG files/ resolution of 100 ppi.
2.  Video or Audio Clips: 7-15 minutes
How you can tell your story:

Many activists, especially women, do not like writing, or talking about themselves. It may help if you have a friend ask you some questions to get started or record you on video or recorder.

In what Languages:

·         English
·         French
·         Portuguese
·         Spanish
·         Arabic

What will happen to your story?

In celebrating women human rights defender people of diverse backgrounds, CAL will publish the stories on its website and social media.  If we get enough submissions, the stories will be put into a book format with copies send to you and/or organization. Video and audio clips will be placed online with a link to your organization’s website. CAL will not be selling any of the materials derived from this call this project.

For more information or to send your stories

Sipho Mthathi: sipho@cal.org.za
Mariam Armisen: mariam@cal.org.za

Monday, 24 October 2011

Monday, October 24, 2011

Banjul, the Gambia

Victor Mukasa

The 50th Session of the ACmHPR has taken off today and CAL is still at it. The opening session started off with the singing of the African Union anthem. Very long but meaningful. It calls for a better life for all Africans.

So many speeches but one very powerful speech was by the out-going Chairperson, Madam Reine Alapini-Gansou. She commended human rights defenders for the great work that they do in protecting and promoting human rights. She added there have been successes and that should be acknowledged. she said that there are still so many challenges in defending human rights at the Commission. She specifically encouraged NGOs and Commissioners to keep working and that some issues such as the rights of sexual minorities and land rights should be taken on.

Madam Alapini-Gansou is a very progressive human rights defender and has been very encouraging to defenders in terms of sexual orientation and gender identity issues. Her progressiveness will greatly be missed but work continues with other commissioners. We hope that the next chair will have a listening hear and ready for dialogue on issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity.

Please keep checking. CAL is still in Banjul and we will keep you updated.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

Banjul, the Gambia
October 23, 2011
Victor Mukasa
The NGO Forum ended on Friday, October 21, 2011. Very powerful deliberations by African human rights defenders on the situation of human rights on the continent and it is clear that Africans are still facing gross human rights violations; not only LGBTI people, to emphasize.
The various resolutions that came out of the various special interest groups that we reported about on October 20 were presented before the Forum on October 21. We are happy to report that the 2 Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) specific resolutions were both adopted by the NGO Forum and will be presented to the Commission for adoption. A couple of other groups had resolutions that made mention of SOGI issues and these too were adopted by the Forum.
The 50th session of the ACmHPR starts tomorrow, October 24 till November 7. CAL will be in attendance for the next few days.  We will keep you updated.

Thursday, 20 October 2011

Banjul, The Gambia – October 20, 2011
Victor Mukasa

It is 11:50pm in Banjul, the Gambia and I have just returned from my last meeting with a group of human right defenders. It is humbling to learning what HRDs face as they do their work in different countries. I am really humbled!!!!
It is day number 1 for the CAL delegation at the NGO Forum which precedes the session of the African Commission. CAL is being represented by Mariam Armisen, Monica Tabengwa and myself, Victor Mukasa. The Forum started yesterday, the 19th of October, 2011. We missed the first day due to the obligatory delay of 10 hours in transit in Dakar, Senegal.
Summary of sessions:
For the determination not to follow the ordinary stuff, I will begin with the last session of the day; SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS DISCUSSION: Development, Progress and challenges – 30 years after the African Charter
In total, there were 12 special interest groups for this session, namely;
-          Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity
-          People Living with HIV/AIDS in Africa
-          Children’s Rights in Africa
-          Freedom of Expression and Protection of journalists
-          Women’s Rights in Africa
-          Indigenous Populations and Communities in Africa
-          Death Penalty in Africa
-          Refugees, Asylum Seekers, IDPs and Migrants in Africa
-          Extractive Industries, environment and Human Rights Violations in Africa
-          Human Rights Defenders in Africa
-          Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in Africa
-          Prisons and Conditions of Detention in Africa
12 groups; 3 delegates;
The CAL delegation had to make a decision on which groups to participate in. The group on Sexual Orientation was a MUST attend as, according to the program, CAL was the Chair. Monica Tabengwa joined delegates from different organizations and doubled as Chair and Rapporteur of the group. In their presentation, the group highlighted the minimal, but worth recognition, progress at the NGO Forum and African Commission in terms of issues related to sexual orientation and gender identity. The fact that since 2006 when LGBT activists first showed up at the Commission, the Commissioners have, more than thrice, interrogated states about violations against LGBT people in particular countries, was noted. In addition to this, the group drafted a resolution on LGBT human rights that will be presented to the Forum tomorrow, in the hope that it will be adopted. LGBT? Special interest group? Progress!!!!
Mariam Armisen attended the group on Women’s Rights in Africa. During their presentation, the group highlighted the double stigma that lesbians face because they are women and of a sexual orientation that faces prejudice, among other violations faced by women in Africa. This group will be bringing a resolution before the Forum tomorrow also in the hope that it will be adopted.
I attended the group on Human Rights Defenders in Africa. Chaired by the Special Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, Commissioner Lucy Asuagbor, came up with 2 resolutions and 1 reccommendation. The 2 resoluions were on Freedom of association and assembly, the violation of which has affected the work of human rights defenders in Africa, and the other on repression of human rights defenders. The recommendation was on the rejection of CAL’s application for Status by the Commission in which the group strongly recommends that the commission grants Observer Status to CAL.  
Earlier in the day, there was a session dubbed; Housing is a Human Right: Stop forcd evictions in Africa. Defenders called for solidarity among African civil society in addressing the issue of forced evictions, which was noted to be on a high in Kenya, Zimbabwe, Equatorial Guinea, Ghana and Angola.They called for protection from governments against violations. Defenders reported that the evictions are carried out without prior notice given in sufficient time. Those who execute the evictions destroy both lives and property.
Other sessions were panel discussions; Principles and Guidelines on Economic and Social Rights (Nairobi Guidelines) and Reporting Guidelines (Tunis Guidelines), and Freedom of association – Progress, Opportunities and Challenges over the last 30 years.
Tomorrow, October 21, will be the last day of the Forum. As promised, CAL will update you on most of the happening especially the draft resolutions that include the human rights of LGBT people in Africa

Friday, 14 October 2011

Welcome to CAL's new bog! 

The Coalition of African Lesbians is thrilled to announce the launch of its new blog. The aim of this space is to update member and partner organizations as well as the general public about CAL's advocacy and lobbying work. We hope to make this blog, an engaging space and integral part of our work. 


The Coalition of African Lesbians [CAL] is a formation of more than 30 organisations in 19 countries in Africa committed to advancing justice for lesbian and bisexual women and transdiverse people.

We are passionate feminists, activists and human rights defenders.

The Coalition is committed to raising consciousness amongst and strengthening activism and leadership of lesbian and bisexual women and transdiverse people. We believe in the power of collective action. We view ourselves as a part of social movements, including the women’s movement, the sexual and reproductive rights movement, the broader lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex movement and the economic justice movement.

Whilst our direct constituency is lesbian and bisexual women and transdiverse people, we are politically located within the women’s and LGBTI communities and as such, we engage in an ongoing way with the broader struggles and in some of our work, work in a direct way with LGBTI people and with women more broadly.


The Coalition of African Lesbians is mindful of how oppressive forms of power keep us unfree and unequal and rob us of our dignity. We understand that the oppression we live and experience as lesbian and bisexual women and transdiverse people is created and sustained by patriarchy in the first instance.

Patriarchy, the system of male domination is responsible for the oppression of all women. It also oppresses men who do not conform to patriarchal ideas of what a man is and should be. Patriarchy then contributes in a major way to the deep fear of those of us who do not comply with or fit into the norms that it creates about what it means to be a woman a and what it means to be a man. Homophobia and transphobia result from this process.

We believe that our multiple identities intersect and are linked. Our race, class, gender, sexual orientation, [dis]ability, geographic location and other identities are connected in a web of oppression.

We also believe that even as we are violated and oppressed, we also have individual and collective power as actors and activists with agency and capability to change the way the world works.  We work to strengthen this power amongst ourselves as a movement and together with other movements. It is this that gives us the hope to push for the kind of change we want to see in the world.


The Coalition of African Lesbians [CAL] works to transform Africa into a place where all lesbian and bisexual women and transdiverse people enjoy the full range of human rights, secure in the knowledge that we are recognized as full citizens, with rich and diverse cultures, and a significant and respected presence in all spheres of life, including social, political and economic and through personal and organizational growth.


CAL at the NGO Forum and the 50th Session of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR): 18th- 27th October, 2011


The Coalition of African Lesbians (CAL) is a network of organisations working to transform Africa into a continent where all lesbians, bisexual and trans-diverse people enjoy a full range of human rights secure in the knowledge that we are recognised as full persons and citizens with rich and diverse cultures and enjoy significant and respected presence in all the spheres of life. Our work is shaped by an African radical feminist understanding, informed by research and strengthened by the claiming of social and economic power.

CAL has conducted advocacy at both the NGO Forum and the African Commission on Human and People's Rights (ACHPR) sessions since 2006. In May 2009 CAL participated in a panel discussion on sexual orientation and gender identity in Africa together with activists and human rights defenders from Kenya, Uganda, Cameroon and South Africa.  Again in May 2010 CAL convened another panel again to facilitate discussions on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity (SOGI) in Africa and to update partners and allies and the Forum on ongoing actions. In particular to inform the Forum about how the decision by the ACHPR to deny CAL observer status in 2010 on the basis that ‘the activities of the said organisation –CAL do not promote and protect any of the rights enshrined in the African Charter’ has affected the organization’s advocacy and lobbying activities and to engage with allies, partners and member organizations at the forum toward building solidarity around SOGI issues at the AC.

We, Victor Mukasa, Monica Tabengwa and Mariam Armisen will be CAL’s delegation at the upcoming NGO Forum and the 50th Session and also the 30th anniversary of ACHPR. While the mood at the session will no doubt be a celebratory one, the AC is turning 30 and while we plan on joining some of the festivities, our main goal is to keep challenging the ACHPR further to recognise LGBTI rights as human rights and take actions to include, protect and promote these rights. Granting CAL the observer status to fully represent the human rights issues of lesbian, bisexuals and trans-diverse people in Africa would be one step towards recognizing the rights of LGBTI people in Africa.

CAL’s Action Plan and Activism the 50th Session of the ACHPR:
  • 1.      Submit a follow up letter to the AC, pressing for a formal explanation to why it denied CAL the OS;
  • 2.      Distribute the follow up letter to allies, partners and members organizations to include in their communication package to the AC;
  • 3.      Schedule meetings with Commissionaires;
  • 4.      Strategy with allies, partners and members at both the NGO Forum and the AC around  CAL’s application  process before re-applying for observer status;
  • 5.      Organize a side event to build new and strengthen existing relationships as a strategy to further develop solidarity with allies, partners and members organizations;
  • 6.      Publish a press release in honour of ACHPR’s 30th anniversary.  
  • Send us your comments
  • Spread the word
  • Like us on Facebook, at 
  • Follow us on twitter, at http://twitter.com/#!/CoalitionCAL
  • Connect us to civil society organizations attending the AC
  • Link us to your country's Commissionaire at the AC


Tel: +27 11 918 2182 / 5507 / 6115
Fax: +27 11 918 5609
Email: info@cal.org.za
URL: www.cal.org.za