SPONSORED BY MAMA NA DADA AFRICA
AND GLOBAL PARTNERS FOR DEVELOPMENT
December 1-4, 2006
Bondo Teachers Training College, Bondo, Kenya
The conference was organized by the Planning Committee of Mama na Dada africa. It was designed to bring together grassroots women primarily from the East African countries of Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania, with representation of rural women throughout africa, to tell their stories in their own words, to speak for themselves, to share their successes, challenges, and vulnerabilities and to celebrate their successes.
Mama na Dada works with grassroots women and is concerned that even though several women's conferences have been held in various parts of the world, these conferences have always focused on the elite women, local NGOs and international players. The voices and stories of grassroots women, who suffer most when poverty, disease and war occur, have never been heard because there has never been, even at the UN level, a conference to have them speak for themselves. It is always the researcher, the NGO, the government officer, and the international person, who speaks on their behalf. This is what this Conference brought to the grassroots women -- an opportunity to have their voices heard.
The conference was held in Bondo Teacher's Training College in Nyanza Province, from December 1-4, 2006. Approximately 513 women attended from Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Southern Sudan, South Africa, Zambia, including 65 women North America and Canada. By bringing together such a wide range of women, the conference provided a very valuable opportunity for women to meet and learn from the experiences of each other.
- To bring grassroots women together to discuss matters of common interest so that they can support and empower one another
- To allow the women to share their successes, challenges and vulnerabilities and to tell their stories in their own voices
- To provide grassroots women with their own forum and opportunity to network and learn about resources close to home.
- To facilitate grassroots connection and communication among women
- To document women's stories
- To create a market for grassroots women's enterprise products
- To highlight our own local leadership and resources
- To offer an opportunity for grassroots women to share their stories with our international sisters.
The main theme of the conference as "Women Building Communities." Rural women are the front line of village community development and the backbone of Africa's progress. When poverty, disease, and conflict strike, it is grassroots women who suffer most profoundly. It is grassroots women who carry the burdens of ensuring that their children are fed, educated and have worthy futures, of caring for those suffering from AIDS and other diseases, and of building and maintaining the social fabric of their communities for the benefit of all.
Reaching across ethnic and religious divides, women actively pursue peace, defuse tensions and rebuild communities torn apart by violence. Women develop income generating activities for survival, education and financial security. They form affinity groups for mutual benefit and to care for those in greatest need. They organize and stand for their rights to ownership, land management, and community decision-making. Grassroots women develop programs that work extremely well, but these are rarely shared with their peers or the wider world in an effective manner.