The Southern African Gender Protocol Alliance was formed in 2005 to mobilise women’s rights organisations and advocate for the adoption of the SADC Protocol on Gender and Development. While the Alliance journey started in 2005, it emerges from the 1980s to 1990s, Women’s Movement that operated in persona agency, solidarity in dismantling patriarchy and calling for member States commitment and accountability. A growing sense of collaboration among multiple stakeholders arose from women’s participation during the liberation struggles, where women fought side by side with men, constituting a good 10 to 30% of the cadres in the Angola, Mozambique, Namibia and Zimbabwe liberation struggles. Women’s role in armed struggles entrenched in historical, socialist myths in which narratives are limited by barriers of feminine and masculine power relations that date back decades and centuries. The need to educate both men and women in feminism from young age is central.

The Alliance continues to grow its membership with LGBTI+ organisations and partnerships with regional, international organisations such as Kaleidoscope Trust, SAfAIDS and MIET Africa. It takes the collaboration and implementation of the Alliance members to build a regional campaign over the past 20 years. Over the years, the Alliance action planning and strategy represent the diverse ideas and values of all members. There is effective participation, experimental learning and commitment in getting the work done on the ground and building a strong movement.1

GL board member Sara Longwe, a feminist activist based in Lusaka, Zambia, shows us what it means to be feminist.. She developed a method of analyzing gender issues popularly known as Longwe Women’s Empowerment Framework in the global feminist and gender literature. Sara become a prime mover in a lobbying group that successfully pressed the Zambian government to introduce, in mid-70s, a provision for paid maternity leave at work places at national level. She played a vital role in pushing the government (1985) into ratifying the 1979 UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW ) and the enactment of the 1989 statutory laws on inheritance of the deceased estate (i.e. wills and intestate). Also in 1986, she was one of the founder members of the Zambian Non-Governmental Organisational Coordination Council (NGOCC) – this was an offshoot of the UN’s Decade for Women -1976-1985). NGOCC is the focal point for Zambian women’s movement for advocacy of the implementation of gender policies and human rights instruments (national, regional and international). Sara co-founded a number of other vivil society organisations and in her quest for improving women’s empowerment at regional and international levels.2