Africa Contact partnership seminar 2013: Working together in and for the future

An important forward-looking issue debated at Africa Contact’s partnership seminar, held in Johannesburg in April 2013, was how the partnership between Africa Contact and its partners should evolve.

Mcebisi Kraai from Masifundise (South Africa) and Africa Contact’s Marie Villumsen gave presentations on Africa Contact’s partnership approach, advocacy and networking.

Kraai argued that shared ideals and networking were vital for a successful partnership, such as the one between his own organisation, Masifundise, and Africa Contact. “We found the shared vision and mission of Africa Contact is like we made it,” he said. “We have a common vision and this is why our projects  – that include joint advocacy and lobby work with Africa Contact – have worked.”

Amongst the achievements of the project, Kraai listed Masifundises influence on a new Small Scale Fisheries policy in 2012 and the fact that they were now being consulted on international guidelines to secure sustainable fisheries policies.

“We must build on our experience with Africa Contact in new partnerships,” he said, “because we are stronger when we are working with other people in networks.”

Maria Villumsen agreed that partnerships need a common vision. “We must build our house together,” she said in her presentation, “and if we pinpoint the exact point of influence, we can be influential with small means.”

She used the ACT NOW to stop political violence against women in Zimbabwe-campaign, which was started as a joint Africa Contact-partner campaign, as an example of this.“This campaign linked the grassroots in Zimbabwe and Denmark, thereby building new and strengthened partnerships,” she said.

There were many difficulties in starting the campaign, Villumsen conceded. It was initially difficult to mobilise Zimbabwe’s women because they understandably didn’t want to risk being targeted by the government without anyone listening or supporting their cause. And the campaigners also had to accept that the campaign needed a clear focus – it couldn’t “do it all.”

One of the visual parts of the campaign showed pictures taken of ordinary people and government ministers on Facebook. These people had volunteered to have their pictures taken with gaffer-tape over their mouth with a sign that read “Stop political violence against women in Zimbabwe.” The campaign also included a website and the writing of an array of articles, as well as procuring a statement from the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs and pushing for the issue together with RAU at the CEDAW review in Geneva.

It was agreed at the seminar that Africa Contact and partners would engage in a commonly run series of campaigns called ACT NOW. These campaigns should focus on key urgent issues and use the entire Africa Contact “family” to push for these issues collectively.

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