African Feminist Organizations: Featuring Isis-WICCE

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Isis-WICCE is named after Isis, the Egyptian Goddess of creativity, Knowledge and wisdom. Founded in Geneva, Switzerland in 1974 as a global women’s resource centre documenting and disseminating women’s experiences, concerns and ideas, Isis-WICCE moved to Kampala, Uganda in 1993 to connect and amplify the African woman’s voice to the rest of the world.

Isis-WICCE works with partners in conflict affected contexts across Africa and Asia, using our homegrown WEAVE model to catalyze women’s power for peace by integrating research, documentation, holistic healing, skills and movement building as well as advocacy. We conduct research and train women to amplify their voices and advocate for policies and programs tackling the impact of conflict on women and communities.

Core programs include;

Feminist Leadership Institute:

Since 1984, the Isis-WICCE institute has reached over 1500 women leaders from Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Balkans. Through educative cross-cultural exchanges, training seminars, solidarity visits and think tanks, a multiplicity of feminists, leaders and change agents share knowledge; conduct research; critique existing policies, leadership and structures; to design and apply approaches for social change as part of the ‘Giving Back to My Community’ component. The institute is committed to addressing the deficit of women’s leadership in armed conflict and post-conflict settings, by building a vanguard of skilled and knowledgeable women leaders as week as contributing to a global movement of women peace activists.

Research and Knowledge Creation:

Since 1996, Isis-WICCE has researched and documented the critical yet often-neglected experiences of women in situations of armed conflict and post-conflict globally, providing important data and information on women, peace and security. Isis-WICCE research has been conducted in 27 countries including 15 countries in Africa (Burundi, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Liberia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Somaliland, South Africa, Tanzania, Togo, Uganda and Southern Sudan) and 12 countries in Asia, Latin America and the Balkans (Albania, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Colombia, El Salvador, India, Mexico, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri-Lanka, Yugoslavia and Nepal)

Advocacy, Communication and Knowledge Management:

Isis-WICCE has served as a global women’s resource centre documenting and disseminating women’s experiences, concerns and ideas in a bid to collectively address gender inequality. Through this Isis-WICCE seeks to inform and influence global discourse on gender, peace and security, serving as a vital resource hub and reference point for policy makers, activists, academia, civil society, ordinary women and men to effect gender responsive social change.

As a feminist organization that works with women affected by armed conflict, Isis-WICCE’s work never really ends; and the work will not end until patriarchy and war have been brought to an end, permanently. As a learning organization, Isis-WICCE has established, continues to refine and customize, the methodology and processes that have brought meaningful change in the lives of women affected by armed conflict in different countries. How we do our feminist work is through:

  1. Research and Documentation: with a focus on raising the profile of women’s voices and experiences in armed conflict. This came from the sheer realization that women’s voices were silent and their experiences were very critical and yet neglected. Women in situations of conflict were largely invisible and this was true whether we were talking of international and national reconstruction efforts or at the level of the women’s movement.
  2. Evidence-based Advocacy: using women’s documented peace and post conflict recovery needs and concerns, we work with women war survivors, women human rights defenders, and women’s rights organizations, to ensure women are at decision-making tables on peace and to raise women’s concerns in national, regional and international policy and practice.
  3. Healing: Our model is based on the idea that a woman’s life is not segmented and any of our efforts should target the body mind and soul. Following research, Isis-WICCE addresses the emergency psychological, physical and gynaecological needs of women war survivors- with surgery, treatment, counselling and trauma management- to allow their recovery and substantive participation in post-conflict society. Healing delivers the real impact of Isis-WICCE’s work in the area of health. It restores the body, it restores hope and particularly restores women’s agency. The intervention draws from the actual realities and touches where it matters most. It is a healing hand that utilizes the voice of women. This healing makes real impact in the lives of the women touched. The difference can be seen, felt and touched.
  4. Skills Building: The feminist leadership institute equips activist women war survivors and women human rights defenders from conflict-affected societies with critical knowledge and skills; supports network building and facilitates a cross-cultural exchange of strategies to advance the women’s leadership, activism and advocacy for peaceful conflict resolution and gender-responsive post-conflict recovery policy and practice.
  5. Mentorship: The holistic approach of the feminist leadership institute includes continued capacity building and support to community-based women’s groups and alumnae women leaders to conduct peace building and post-conflict rehabilitation activities

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How does the organization define African Feminisms?

We believe the term African feminism seeks to authenticate feminism from an African perspective. It may have been articulated as feminism elsewhere but it was always a part of Africa. When we talk about feminist peace we recall the collective revolutionary action of African women like the Aba women’s riot in 1920s Nigeria where women –not men- challenged the colonial masters on paying tax. As a result the colonialists had to take away the power of African women by putting in place structures that challenged women’s power and relegated them to the background. So while we weren’t writing and theorizing about it, feminism has always been a part of Africa.

For Isis-WICCE, African feminism is about promoting indigenous feminist knowledge. A lot of feminists are writing from the African perspective factoring in cultural dimensions, language, geography, social relations- including how that has changed over time in Africa. Through our institute we not only document women’s experiences of conflict but teach women to document their own experiences and provide them with skills and spaces to speak by themselves. In profiling the voices of African women through our research and policy advocacy work we don’t want to represent African women or their issues but to promote African women’s self agency in the work we do. So we support women living in rural areas, to be able to, have the space to speak by themselves as women affected by conflict- to ensure we do not undermine their agency.

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**Note:

Please note that we are changing our name from Isis-Women’s International Cross Cultural Exchange (Isis-WICCE) to Women’s International Peace Centre (WIPC) because With the move to a more holistic approach (of research, advocacy, healing, skills building and mentorship for peace), it has become increasingly that the organization is no longer solely a platform for women’s international cross-cultural exchange. As such, we deemed it necessary to adopt a name that reflects our core focus on igniting women’s leadership, amplifying their voices and deepening their activism in recreating peace. The name Women’s International Peace Centre reflects our commitment to create an incubator [find alternative] for women seeking to re-create peace and live in peace across the globe. The change in name is also timely as the name Isis has been adopted by other actors with views and actions antithetical to ours.

We are excited about this positive change and look forward to sharing our new look and new contacts in the coming months.

Contact Information:

Isis-Women’s International Cross-Cultural Exchange (Isis-WICCE) a.k.a Women’s International Peace Centre (WIPC)

Plot 1 Martyrs Garden B Road,

Ministers Village, Ntinda

P.O. Box 4934 Kampala, Uganda

Tel: +256414698684

Fax: +256414543954

program@isis.or.ug

Website: http://www.isis.or.ug

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/IsisWICCE

Twitter: @IsisWICCE

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