Convening of The MATCH Fund’s East African Partners in Nairobi, Kenya

“A tree is stronger when roots are spread, deepen, and intertwine with other roots. Our organizations will work the same way.” – Cynthia (Boxgirls Kenya) on the importance of forming connections between grassroots feminist organizations in Eastern Africa. 

On April 23-24 2019, The MATCH Fund’s East African partners gathered in Nairobi, Kenya for a two-day convening with two main goals: to explore legacy-building within emerging African feminist spaces and movements, and to create multi-directional connections between organizations. 

Present at the convening were grassroots organizations Akili Dada (Kenya), Resource Center for Women and Girls (Kenya), Boxgirls (Kenya), FEM Alliance (Uganda), HER Internet (Uganda), and Crown The Woman (South Sudan). 

“Who I am is not one thing or another. There is no constant. I am growing as a leader. I’m reflecting on our gains and seeing how far we’ve come.” — Riya (Crown The Woman) on constantly evolving as a feminist activist. 

The idea for a partner meet-up began when our East African partners realized that meaningful connection and collaboration with other partner organizations had the potential to build sustainable and transformative feminist movements in the region. A brilliant example of this: Riya, Executive Director of Crown The Woman, is a former participant of Akili Dada’s mentorship program — who went on to start her own organization to help young women and girls in South Sudan. 

The convening’s program design and implementation was directly driven by our partners themselves, with Akili Dada and Resource Center for Women and Girls as hosts. The MATCH Fund played a convener role and facilitated a brief open Q&A session responding to emerging questions while providing relevant background information about the feminist funding landscape, and more specifically, The MATCH Fund’s story.

“We’re passionate about social change. Our organization amplifies the voices of young women, and transcends the systems in place that make it hard for women to become leaders. One workshop won’t transform lives. Long-term mentorship is key.” — Purity (Akili Dada) on her organization’s unique and effective approach to mentorship. 

An inter-generational framework, with intersectionality as a core value, was applied to the sessions’ discussions of ideas, challenges, tensions, barriers, and solutions. LGBTQ+ and young women’s leadership, gender-based violence, and digital safety were all key issues at the forefront of conversations.

The gathering created opportunities for knowledge and story sharing, mentorship, strategizing, relationship building, and reflections — as well as smiles, tears, laughter, and a pretty spectacular dance party. 

“Feminists have thousands of years of messes to clean up. Allow yourself time to get it right.” – Zeedah (Resource Center for Women and Girls) on how there is no such thing as the “perfect feminist”. 

You could feel the strong connections being formed between participants in real-time. The final session even called for partners to make concrete plans for future collaborative projects and events. 

Though all convening participants brought their own unique perspectives to the gathering, one element remained consistent. They are all movement-builders and feminist leaders using their activism, innovation, resources, and solution-based strategies to bring meaningful and lasting change to their communities. 

“If something doesn’t work, don’t give up. When things fail, always re-strategize.” — Jay (FEM Alliance) on movement-building with tenacity and adaptability.

Now more than ever, there’s an opportunity to harness these burgeoning local movements to create a global shift to better the lives of women and girls everywhere. If locally-led feminist organizations continue to collaborate across regions, issues, and generations, there is no limit to what we can accomplish together.

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