Healing is liberation: Centralising decolonial and collective healing praxis in feminist organising

Posted on: November 1, 2022 Posted by: Urgent Action Fund - Africa Comments: 0

Healing is liberation: Centralising decolonial and collective healing praxis in feminist organising

Skye R. Tinevimbo Chirape

The ongoing project of dehumanisation – genocides, colonisation, enslavement – many persons from the global majority have been left socially divided, economically depleted, emotionally wounded, materially impoverished, and politically vulnerable (Gill and Thomson, 2021). Systems we have been left with tend to breed racism, homophobia, misogyny, transphobia, poverty, violence, and violent patriarchal systems. Resultantly, many of us are survivors and victims of trauma from systematic abuse, oppression, and violence, and we often come to movement spaces/ activist and feminist spaces hoping to heal our traumas through doing freedom work, liberatory and activist-practitioner work. Oftentimes, for the majority of activists, activist practitioners, freedom workers, and change-makers the work in itself does, and can re-activate trauma.

In recent years research has shown that unhealed trauma and its damaging effects can be transmitted intergenerationally (DeGruy Leary, 2005; Karenian et al., 2011; Yehuda & Lehrner, 2018) and that historical experiences of dehumanisation will continue to fuel racism, oppression, and other forms of violence (Gill, and Thomson, 2021). Therefore, unless we come to terms with this history (Gill, and Thomson, 2021), and challenge unjust social, political, and economic systems, generational trauma will continue unhealed, making it a challenge to achieve sustainable peace and well-being. Without healing, the harmful emotional historical brutalities of the past remain, festering within communities. On that account, there is a need to develop an understanding of trauma – everyday trauma, ongoing trauma, and historical trauma, and put in place psychosocial interventions and healing modalities that fit the circumstances of the contemporary fragmented and unjust world.

We are therefore called to center the idea that trauma, even if it doesn’t show up in expected ways, is always among us, within our communities, individually and collectively. Consequently, we need to think, rethink and incorporate this understanding in how we also center healing, individually and collectively, and rethink how that incorporated healing occupies individual, public, and collective spaces.

With black women and non-gender conforming persons continuing to be located at the marginal intersection of race, class, and gender, carrying injuries and traumas that have been shaped by colonialism and its legacies, we arrive in spaces of organising wounded. We, African women and non-binary persons have continuously been historically disenfranchised, colonised, objectified, and our identities violently constructed, which requires healing of ourselves — mind, spirit, and body — and this is crucial to feminism. In addition to violent historical conjunctures, every day and ongoing traumas produced by systems built to destroy us, we engage with work and communal spaces – it is in our roles as feminists, activists, activist-practitioners, freedom workers, activist-researchers, healers – where our traumas are re-activated and or we further experience vicarious trauma (Behari-Leak et al., forthcoming). Subsequentially, alongside the systematic loss of our communities’ healing traditions, activists, practitioners, and feminists are experiencing an increased state of burnout and mental health difficulties. We frequently feel depleted. To add to the effects of violence, oppression, and trauma in our communities and movements, the majority of freedom workers also tend to earn lower salaries and continue to be pushed to the margins of society. In actuality, many change makers and freedom workers often die in poverty and suffer premature deaths. Thus, it is important that organising, social movements, and healing are not separate. We need to consider how people show up in movements and organising spaces, how the spaces they show up to support their well-being, and the processes put in place to support and retain their wholeness.

Our communities require healing that believes us when we are hurt, when we say we are hurt and listens to us when we say what we need. Currently a majority of healing modalities – mainstream western biomedical and ‘alternative’ white, cis-gender, able-bodied therapeutic spaces, do not understand that we are the first and last authority on our bodies and minds. Mainstream psychology, psychiatry, and self-help services have historically been damaging to black people (Guthrie, 1976; Hilliard, 1978; Jones, 1974) and choose not to understand that we are still healing from racism, poverty, oppression, and generational trauma.

We need healing modalities and healers who understand that fact and can offer our communities their time and skills to help us heal, on an individual and collective level. Mainstream healing modalities continue to lack in their understanding of how colonialism, ableism, cultural theft, oppression, heteronormativity, patriarchy, white supremacy, racism, privilege and exclusionary systems maintain to affect healing systems that are available to our communities. They do not center community, or marginalised peoples’ knowledge and experiences. Our communities require healing that also acknowledges historical dehumanising acts, addressing the harmful effects of dehumanisation and co-imagining and co-creating conditions for systemic justice (Gill, and Thomson, 2021).

Feminists, organisers, and indigenous communities have for generations taken care of themselves, each other, and their communities, implementing collective care and collective healing. Feminist researchers and organisations have, for example, created spaces and opportunities for women who have experienced conflict, to share and document their experiences of conflict and sexual violence during conflict (See Okazawa-Rey, Margo with Ruth Ojiambo Ochieng, 2008). One such space was created through ISIS-WICCE’s healing work with women war survivors in northern Uganda (Okazawa-Rey, Margo with Ruth Ojiambo Ochieng, 2008).

In South Africa, the Sex Work Theatre Group (SWTG) was formed in 2019 as part of a collaborative research project with the African Gender Institute, the Centre for Theatre, Dance, and Performance Studies (University of Cape Town), and the non-governmental organisation (NGO) Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Task Force (SWEAT). Employing theatre-based practices to enable gender-positive approaches to well-being and add to discussions within the public and policy arena on making gender equality a central issue in the democratic, SWTG used participatory theatre and performance as a means to decriminalise and destigmatise sex work (Matchett & Kisubi Mbasalaki, 2020).

Historically, communities have actively focused on the intersection between theatre and performance, transformation and well-being (Matchett & Kisubi Mbasalaki, 2020), including drawing from drama, song, poetry, storytelling, gathering, food sharing, as remedies for resistance, radical care and as a way to actualise spaces of healing, care, and wellbeing. Feminists have looked to spirituality, drawing from radical black feminist traditions and African spiritual practices and beliefs, beyond that associated with religious practice.

African, black, and people of colour women deserve to have multiple paths to healing and, multiple paths toward recovery (Richardson, 2018). Historically African women have been known for orchestrating and practising radical models of collective and activist care, and active solidarity. We have responded to injustices and epidemics on the continent by forming our support and network groups, and our spaces of healing and care (Horn, 2019). During the AIDS epidemic, for example, African women communities from across the continent came together and created support groups, to fight the violent realities of living with the infection (Horn, 2019). Similarly other movements and individuals, in community with others have and continue to create physical spaces where black feminist activists, feminist scholars, and activist practitioners can retreat and engage with healing practices. Some of these tangible practices of care and healing, look like feminist Clinal Psychologist, Jude Clark’s retreats for black women, Professor Floretta Boonzaier’s (Hub for decolonial feminist psychologies in Africa) retreats for feminist researchers researching violence and trauma, Dr. Mmatshilo Motsei’s healing circles, Coumba Toure’s storytelling and knowledge sharing programs with young persons and women, the liberator and economist Nthupula Masipa’s practice as a witch and yoga teacher, Clinical psychologist Dr. Didi Sekoko-Biorn holistic healing retreat camp in Bostwana for change makers and young persons, indigenous Nkuthazo Alexis Dyalvane’s multidisciplinary, multi-sensory artist’s work with sound and ancestral ritual gatherings and traditional healer Vuyi Qubeka’s work as a way-shower, seer and energy medicine. The evidence for such legacies, and the construction of collective healing praxis, is expansive across generations, geographies, and realms.

Within academia, on the African continent, black feminist researchers have taken on the task of incorporating healing as a central methodology (Kessi, Suffla, & Seedat, 2022; Chirape, 2021; Boonzaier van Niekerk, 2021; Boonzaier & van Niekerk, 2019) and pedagogical approaches – carrying out a pedagogy of healing within classrooms, where learning is not separate from healing (see the works of educators such as Dr. Yaliwe Clarke, Skye Chirape, Dr. Leigh-Ann Naidoo) and of reclaiming and re-remembering of African indigenous knowledge systems (see works of Dr. Yaa Ashantewaa Ngidi, Dr. Mmatshilo Motsei). Similarly, Kenyan social, environmental, and political activist Dr. Wangari Maathai, founder of the Green belt movement spent years rallying women to heal the environment/ the wounds of the planet, thereby healing themselves, and society and reconnecting with spiritual traditions. Wangari Maathai has linked environmental protection with human rights. She wrote at length about the power of the tree. This understanding is prevalent, more so in recent years with more African women gathering together in forests, for forest bathing practices and ancestral rituals. In South Africa, many folks also continue to contribute to the legacy of healing, resistance, care, and justice through land and agrarian reform, land accountability, and putting women at the centre of land (see works of Stha Yeni) and at the centre of mining (see works of Dr. Asanda Benya & Dr. Hubist Kassa to name a few – Benya, 2017, 2018; Kassa, 2020). As well as spirituality being at the centre of Africa’s healing traditions for generations, it also plays a role in our work to heal the earth and there is an understanding that our healing also comes from land, from the earth.

Globally, black women and women of colour – continue to draw from and impart ancient knowledge systems, non-traditional healing methods, and alternative healing modalities. Some of those healing practices have been in the form of art, song, rituals, traditional healing, cosmology, knowledge creation, dance, knowledge ‘correcting’, reclaiming witchcraft praxis, truth-telling processes, practising vodun and herbal medicine. In her paper, Horn (2020) shares the work of the African Institute for Integrated Responses to Violence Against Women and HIVAIDS (AIR) and how they engage communities of women through music, song, and dance as methodologies that support healing. These are legacies and traditions of care and collective healing that have been passed from one generation to another and through social movements. African women have been moving away from individualised therapies as a remedy, and instead are considering more political ways of understanding distress and the roots of emotional stress, ill-health (Horn, 2020), repair, justice, and healing. In the absence of amends, and a lack of accessible care practices to sustain our movements, wounds from historical and continuing injustices will continue to maturate, leading to further internal/external conflicts and spiritual imbalances.

Collective healing is liberatory, and healing is liberation. Collective healing can, for our communities, be a physical, political, cultural, and social process of recognising injustice, repairing the harm done, restoration of resources, and triggering active processes of accountability (www.wehealforall.com, 2021). Collective healing is especially important for change makers, freedom workers, and feminist activist communities as it will not only support our emotional, psychological, and spiritual needs and experiences but also expands capacities to enable healing in our communities, families, and in ourselves (www.wehealforall.com, 2021). Collective healing develops our collective consciousness and an opportunity for deeper consciousness shifts that can lead to long-lasting cultural transformations, behavioural changes in societies, in our psyches, and structural changes (www.wehealforall.com, 2021).

The upcoming Feminist Republik festival in Kenya will be a site of healing, and disobedience to the architecture of systemic dehumanisation of our communities. Healing justice is an underpinning theme and praxis for the festival, and the plan to centralise remedial practices and rest will be liberatory for those participating at the festival. Geared toward repair, rest, healing, and replenishment the festival will gather feminists, traditional and indigenous healers, activist-practitioners, medical practitioners, organisers, media makers, cultural and memory workers, activists, artists, freedom workers, educators, bodyworkers, psychologists, counsellors, vodun/ voodoo practitioners, sound healers and more persons and resources linked and rooted in healing practices that our people have been doing for eons. The 2022 Feminist Republik festival is anticipated to be a soothing balm.


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Atieno Odhiambo
Atieno Odhiambo

Board Chair (Kenya)

Atieno is a professional with international legal experience advocating for rights of marginalized populations through policy and legal reform. She is currently the Director – Legal Empowerment Fund at The Fund for Global Human Rights. She is the past Chief of Party (Kenya) for Public International Law & Policy Group (PILPG) a global pro bono law firm that provides legal assistance to states, governments and civil society organizations. Before taking up her position at PILPG, Atieno worked for the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Kenya.

Prior to joining the Supreme Court of Kenya, Atieno worked on immigrant and human rights issues in Washington State at Microsoft Corporation, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project and Columbia Legal Services. Atieno received her undergraduate degree in History from Rice University in Houston, Texas and her law degree from Tulane University School of Law in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Nancy Photo jpeg
Nancy Chitiza

Director - People & Culture

Nancy has worked in conflict and post-conflict African countries with the United Nations Department of Peacekeeping Operations, (UNDPKO). Her career with the UN spans for 9 years, where she worked with the UN Agency UNWomen (then UNIFEM) in Liberia in her early career, she joined UNDPKO with the UN Mission in Liberia- (UNMIL), and later joined The UN Hybrid Mission in Darfur (UNAMID). 

Nancy holds a Master’s in Business Administration from the University of Zimbabwe and BA in Sociology and Economics from Africa University. She is a Certified HR Generalist Professional, with membership to the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development (CIPD), which is the main professional body to accredit and award professional human resources (HR) qualifications. She has attained several professional courses in line with her area of expertise and is very excited about the endless possibilities at UAF-Africa. Nancy is passionate Pan-African Feminist who within her field of Human Resources Administration and Management pushes boundaries in support of feminist values, principles and work cultures in all aspects of her work. She has worked in the HR field for over 17 years and has gained extensive experience and professional expertise to successfully lead the UAF-Africa Team. Nancy works from Harare, Zimbabwe.

Njoki Njoroge Njehu

Board Secretary (Kenya)

Njoki is a committed grassroots organizer/mobilizer and activist. A Pan-Africanist, feminist, and popular educator, her expertise includes women’s land rights, gender justice, community rights, and environmental justice. 

She is co-founder & Executive Director of Daughters of Mumbi Global Resource Center (DOM), an independent non-ethnic, non-partisan Nairobi-based network.  Prior to her 2005 return to Kenya, Ms. Njehû served as Director of the 50 Years Is Enough: U.S. Network for Global Economic Justice & Campaign Manager (Toxic Trade Campaign) for Greenpeace International .  She has testified three (3) times before the U.S. Congress, on debt, HIV/AIDS and other crises facing Africa.

Njoki is the coordinator of the Pan-African Fight Inequality Alliance, Chair of the Board Urgent Action Fund- Africa (UAF-Africa) and Board member of Natural Justice. She has been profiled and widely quoted in print and broadcast media, including: Time Magazine, The Daily Nation (Kenya), The Financial Times (U.K), The New York Times, The Sankei Shimbun (Japan), The Washington Post, BBC, CNN International, and various radio & TV stations in Kenya.

Ndanatsei Bofu-Tawamba

Chief Executive Officer

Ndana Bofu-Tawamba is the CEO for Urgent Action Fund Africa (UAF-Africa). She brings to the global human and womn’s rights movements a wealth of international experience across a broad spectrum of equity-focused issues. For over two decades, Ndana has built bridges between civil society and social justice funders to address gender, racial, socio-political, economic, environmental and climate injustices.

Ndana is a staunch feminist voice for enhanced womn’s rights investments. She has leveraged over USD200 million towards strengthening African feminist and womn’s rights movements. She is a published writer and public speaker on Pan-African and Feminist Philanthropies, African Womn’s Leadership, and the Power of Social Movements in Africa.

Ndana is an alumnus of Harvard Kennedy School of Government in the USA, University of Stellenbosch Business School, South Africa, and INSEAD Business Schools,  France and Singapore. She is a Senior International Fellow at the Centre on Philanthropy and Civil Society at CUNY, USA. She earned her Master’s Degree in Women’s Studies from Lancaster University, UK, and obtained her Bachelor of Science Honours Degree in Social Psychology from the University of Zimbabwe.

Ndana serves on the Board of the African Philanthropy Network. Her leadership at UAF-Africa, the UN, academia, international civil society boards, and regional consultancies on philanthropy, human rights, social movements & governance has meant extensive engagements across the world, thereby presenting her the opportunity to weave her commitment to social justice with an opportunity to further explore womn and girls’ realities throughout the world.

Amel Gorani

Member (Sudan)

Amel Gorani is an international development specialist with a focus on countries in and emerging from conflict. Amel is the Director for the Center for Community and Civic Engagement at Carleton College in . Minnesota. Before joining Carleton, she served as Inclusion Coordinator for the Centre for Humanitarian Dialogue – a peace mediation organization based in Switzerland. She has also worked for international development agencies, non-profit organizations and philanthropic foundations in Africa, Europe and the United States.She has served as Senior Advisor for Vulnerable and Marginalized Groups at the USAID- Sudan Mission and as Program Officer at the Open Society Foundations’ International Women’s Program and the Swedish International Development Agency Somalia and Sudan programs. She also served as Executive Director for Sudan Future Care – Amal Trust, an NGO working in war-affected areas in Eastern Sudan. Amel has worked on several countries across Africa, the Middle East and Asia, most extensively on her native Sudan and the countries of the Horn of Africa. Her work has focused on peace and security, political engagement, social justice and women’s rights. She has also worked on migration, integration and anti-discrimination issues, mostly in Sweden where she lived for many years.

Chiedza Muchena

Executive Officer

Chiedza is a Zimbabwean national with a wealth of experience in administration, having worked as an executive administrator in different capacities over a period spanning 6 years. During this time, she managed offices and operations of senior executives in various companies in the hospitality industry.

She is very strategic and intentional in her execution of tasks and her experience working in sensitive offices has honed her ability to plan, multi-task, and be extremely organized. She has amassed a wealth of experience working with high-profile personalities from various spheres of life including industry and commerce, politics, religion, and entertainment. Her interactions with people of different nationalities, and cultural and religious backgrounds have helped her appreciate the power of diversity.

Chiedza holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from Women’s University in Africa, a Bachelor of Business Administration in Marketing Management from the Institute of Marketing Management (South Africa), a Diploma in Marketing (LCCI), and a Diploma in Executive Secretarial (LCCI), a Certificate in Operations Management from the University of Cape Town and a Certificate in Management Development Skills for Executive and Personal Assistants (Zimbabwe Institute of Management).

She is passionate about her personal development and that of those around her and has a soft spot for environmental issues and human rights – particularly the rights of the girl child and minority groups.

Her other interests include reading and traveling.

Edmond Mugisha

Solidarity & Support Programme Officer-Sustaining AWHRDs

Edmond is a Burundian national. Prior to officially joining Urgent Action Fund-Africa in January 2016, Edmond had been working intermittently at the Fund in various capacities since May 2010 under the Grantmaking Programme. Edmond is instrumental in facilitating

the Fund’s outreach to and learning from Francophone women’s rights organisations and activists and in translation of English materials to French and vice versa thereby enabling Francophone grantees, advisors and partners to benefit from the Fund’s technical and financial support for the advancement of women’s human rights across the continent. He plays a major role in organizing UAF-Africa’s conferences/webinars in/for Francophone countries. His work experience at UAF-Africa has grounded his global perspective and developed his interest and awareness on different cultural, political, social and economic contexts.

His self-motivated spirit has made him set a target of speaking ten languages. Edmond is now fluent in French, English, Korean, Swahili, Kirundi, and Kinyarwanda and is currently learning Deutsch. He has enriched his language and translation skills by providing interpretation and translation services to various organisations including Fahamu, New Mark Group, and Elloca. Edmond holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Integrated Community Development from Daystar University-Kenya and a certificate of Korean Language efficiency from Kosin University-South Korea. He is currently finalizing his Master’s Degree Programme in Leadership and Organisational Management.

In his spare time, Edmond enjoys reading novels, jogging, cycling, watching detective and spy movies, making new friends, and of course learning new languages!

Joanne Mahinda

ICT & Database Officer

Joanne Mahinda is a Kenyan national. Before joining UAF-Africa, she worked for International Livestock Research Institute (ILRI) providing technical support, diagnosing and resolving hardware and software incidents.She has a vast experience providing support for users of different software applications.Joanne also worked for the World Agroforestry Centre (ICRAF) where she offered administrative support to system users where she served as the first point of contact for service providers, suppliers, partners, and visitors.

Joanne holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science from The Catholic University of Eastern Africa. She has more than five years’ experience in ICT customer support,the configuration of applications, infrastructure management, and information technology service management. She also has a professional certificate in Cisco Certified
Networks Associate (CCNA), Business intelligence and Data analytics Foundation. She is currently pursuing a Postgraduate Diploma in Information Security and Ethical Hacking.

In her spare time, Joanne enjoys reading, jogging and providing life and career mentorship to young women.

Nyasha Chibanda

Office Assistant

Nyasha is a Zimbabwean national. She works as the hygienist, hospitality, staff and office orderly assistant in the Zimbabwe office where she runs the day to day office errands.She is highly motivated and is excited to learn and grow with the Fund.

She is a women’s human rights activist, and strong advocate for social and economic justice.
During her spare time, she loves going to church and enjoys morning jogs

Rosettee Nanyanjo

MEAL Officer

Rosette is a Ugandan national, passionate about women’s human rights with a focus on the adolescent girls and young women. She has experience in Monitoring, Evaluation, Research and Learning and holds a Masters Degree in Monitoring and Evaluation from Uganda Management institute.

Her thesis focused on data utilisation for decision making in non-governmental organisations. Prior to joining UAF-Africa, Rosette worked as an M&E Specialist
for various donor funded programs including USAID and DFID. She has experience in setting up M&E systems, Performance based financing for grantees, capacity building,
and reporting writing among others.

Jean k
Jean Kemitare

Programmes Director

Jean is a Ugandan national, a passionate African feminist with over 15 years’ experience in the development sector in women’s rights programming. She has expertise and experience on gender equality & women’s empowerment with a focus on prevention and response to violence against women across the Sub-Saharan Africa context including program strategy development, capacity building for NGOs, advocacy and research.

Jean has been a practitioner at senior management level over the past 8 years leading strategy development for the regional GBV Prevention Network at Raising Voices from information
sharing to a comprehensive feminist movement building programme. Over the years this work has contributed to a rapid increase, interest and investment in addressing violence against women within the region and building a critical mass of GBV prevention network membership. She initiated a range of partnerships with regional feminist networks like FEMNET, INGOs like the IRC, Sexual Violence Research Center, UN Agencies, including UN Women in Uganda and at regional level and coordinated collaborations with feminist movement building organisations like Just Associates (South East Asia) and Intercambios Allianz (Latin America). She has served in advisory capacity on committees like the African Integrated
Response initiated by the Stephen Lewis Foundation and hosted by African Women’s Development Fund.

She believes in agency of African women to not only innovate solutions of pertinent issues affecting their lives but also generate knowledge for a global audience.
Jean is co-author of among other publications, Get Moving! curriculum a feminist organization transformation tool for addressing GBV and led a its adaptation to address sexual harassment, exploitation and abuse in humanitarian settings in partnership with the IRC. Previously her work revolved around chronic poverty research, policy advocacy, and community-based HIV awareness and response.

She was instrumental in civil society advocacy for a social protection policy in Uganda. Jean completed a Masters Degree in Social Sector Planning and Management and Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work and Social Administration from Makerere University Kampala Uganda.

Faith Macheke
Faye Macheke

Member (South Africa)

Faye has over 20 years of finance, operations and development experience. She is currently responsible for the strategic operations function at AWID where she upholds feminist principles and values.

Faye previously held a Head of Finance and Operations role at Paediatric Adolescent Treatment for Africa and Just Associates Incorporated Southern Africa. She also held Directorship roles for international Computer Driving License (ICDL) in Central and Southern Africa.

She also held Directorship roles for international Computer Driving License (ICDL) in Central and Southern Africa. Faye is a board member for ICDL in South Africa and P World Link Trust. She also holds a B.Compt in Accounting Science from University of South Africa and is a member of the Southern African Institute for Business Accountants.

Sharon Ngeno

Finance Associate

Sharon Ng’eno, is the first born in her family, a feminist, lover of people and believer in girls and young women potential to change their society. Her life has been greatly influenced by women who have positively mentored her throughout her life.

She appreciates and applauds girls and women’s leadership, strength, wisdom, courage and resilience. Education opened doors for her, and she wants all girls to get an education. She believes in Maya Angelou’s words in knowing better is doing better.

Before joining UAF-Africa, she worked at Akili Dada, an award-winning leadership incubator for girls and young women as the Finance Associate and Grants and Executive Associate. She enjoys working in the development space because she has the opportunity to serve humanity in meaningful ways. She loves Finance and its role in realizing the vision of an organisation.

Sharon has a degree in Bachelor of Commerce, Finance option from Kenyatta University. She is also a certified Public Accountant Kenya (CPA (K)) and an alumnus of Moi Girls High School, Eldoret. She is passionate about her work as it directly touches and transforms the lives of girls and young women. Sharon is motivated by women who are breaking the glass ceiling and paving way for future generation of girls and young women leaders. She aspires to be the best version of herself every day and to thrive with others in the different spaces she occupies.

She loves reading, swimming and engaging in rich conversations with friends, especially her grandmother.

Pamela Mudhune

Director of Finance & Operations

Pamela is a qualified accountant with several years of experience in financial management, implementation of internal controls and financial reporting. She has been with the Fund since 2004 and heads the Finance and Administrative roles of UAF-Africa.

Her prior work experience includes working as a Financial Accountant at General Motors Ltd where she was exposed to various financial management roles within the Finance Department.She was awarded a Masters in Accounting from the Bowling Green State University, USA and earned her Bachelor of Commerce degree from Kenyatta University, Kenya. She is also a member of the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya –ICPAK, and has undertaken short courses in audit, taxation and resource mobilization. Pamela serves on the Kenya Advisory Board of Global Education Fund.

Hiwot Tedla

Learning, Monitoring & Evaluation Officer

Hiwot is an Ethiopian; learning, monitoring, evaluation and accountability professional. Hiwot’s passion for Women’s human rights and feminism is deeply influenced by the strong women in her life.

She has a combined experience of working both for humanitarian and development organisation. She has designed LM&E systems and tools and managed data intensive programs. Hiwot has spent over 13 years working in learning, monitoring and evaluation with community level organizations, volunteers and donors.

Prior to joining Urgent Action Fund-Africa (UAF-A), Hiwot served as Monitoring and Evaluation coordinator for Population Services International, where she coordinated LM &E activities for a multiyear USAID funded Transform WASH Project, implemented in 40 districts all over Ethiopia.
She has also designed the M &E plan, the M &E Scope of work and lead in the operationalization of the M &E system for more than 40 projects in Ethiopia and Djibouti. Hiwot has expertise in training and capacity building, program monitoring and evaluation. Hiwot while working
for the Danish refugee Council, she spearheaded the development and roll-out of a successful M&E system from scratch.

She holds a master’s degree in Public Administration from Indihar Gandhi National Open university and a bachelor’s degree in Business Management
from university of Gondar.

She is grateful to be a part of the UAF-Africa team and support the work of empowering Women’s human right’s defenders. In her spare time,she likes reading, cooking and traveling.

Zanele Mbugua

Feminist Republik Champion

Zanele Mbugua is an intersectional feminist who is passionate about womn’s rights advocacy, with a focus on lbtiqa+ rights and sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Sociology from Rhodes University (South Africa) and is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Gender Studies and Development at the University of Nairobi.

She attributes her sense of feminism to her Pan-African roots having lived and schooled in South Africa. Through her lived experiences, Zanele has always found herself drawn towards womn’s, queer and gender non-conforming advocacy spaces; and continues to discover herself and her passion through these spaces. 

In her spare time, Zanele enjoys reading, hiking, and cooking.

Miriam Wanjira
Miriam Wanjira

Office Assistant

Miriam is a Kenyan national. She works as a hospitality focal person in the Kenyan office where she runs the day to day office care services. She has a keen eye for details and is a very cheerful person. Miriam is passionate about promoting the rights

of vulnerable grassroots women. She volunteers some of her time to local women empowerment initiatives in her community. She appreciates the need to provide support towards women’s human rights. In her free time, Miriam a mother of two children, loves to cook and take care of people around her.

Daphne Jena

Solidarity & Support Officer - SRHR

Daphne is a feminist who is passionate about women’s rights advocacy, with a special focus on Gender Based Violence, child marriages and Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR). She has over four years’ experience in feminist organising and women’s rights advocacy. Her advocacy and activism work prior to joining UAF-Africa centred on content creation using online alternative media for activism and human rights advocacy, with Childline Zimbabwe. She has been awarded various fellowships particularly focusing on Sexual Reproductive and Health Rights.

Her experience in strategic communications is evident in the work she has done with various online advocacy platforms including those focusing on women’s rights, children’s rights and human rights law. Daphne holds a B.Sc. (Hons) in Media and Society Studies from the Midlands State University (MSU) and a Master of Science in Development studies from Women’s University in Africa. She also has qualifications in Project Management, Project Monitoring and Evaluation and Public Relations. In her spare time, Daphne enjoys reading, writing and travelling.

Melissa Photo
Melissa Wainaina

Feminist Republik Creative Facilitator

Melissa Wainaina is an African queer feminist based in Kenya heavily involved in African feminist spaces that advance women and girls’ holistic security and safety, collective care and healing justice. She has over 12 years’ experience in the non-profit sector

Having worked since 2006 mainly focusing on sexuality, gender and sexual rights.

Melissa also has experience in strengthening capacities for more rights-based approaches in transformative social change work. Before joining UAF-Africa, she worked at CREA, a feminist organization based in New Delhi, India where she led their programmatic work in East Africa. In this role, she had the honour to work with women’s and LGBTI rights collectives to strengthen feministleadership and movement building in global South.With an education background on gender and development, Melissa has a keen interest on the inter-relation between art and activism.She explores the use of art for body positivity, self-expression, resistance and self-care.As an artist herself, she enjoys writing, poetry, designing jewelry, crafts and photography.  She has authored work using pen names Sikiliza and Kamanzi Wainaina and runs a personal blog called Sikiliza Speaks for over 14 years. Her photography has been featured in the Global Fund for Women online exhibition called MAMA: Motherhood Around the Globe.

She sits on the Board of Women Spaces Africa, a community based organization that promotes the sexual and reproductive health and rights of girls and young women with disabilities in Kenya. During her free time, Melissa enjoys trying out a variety of recreational hobbies and activities, she is an experienced landscaper and gardener, practices yoga, cycling and swimming and is now aspiring on how to learn river fishing.

Carol Werunga

Solidarity & Support Manager

Carol is a human rights activist who is not afraid of challenging the status quo when it comes to the representation and the participation of women and other minorities in the governance sphere. Carol is strong believer of human rights, and feminist principles and she is constantly working towards ensuring that these principles are respected and promoted.

For 10 years, Carol has worked in the human rights and governance space to ensure that marginalized groups such as women have equally opportunities both economically and politically to engage in decision making processes and live a dignified life. Carol has created spaces where women issues are openly discussed. She has a wealth of experience in capacity building, community organizing, coalition building and strengthening, creation of citizen agency through movement building, development and maintenance of strategic partnership, legislative and policy analysis, and evidence based advocacy at local and regional levels. Additionally, Carol has immense experience in grant management. She had managed grants from Ford Foundation, DANIDA, Swedish Embassy (Kenya), state bureau of Democracy for Human rights and Labor (DRL), Open Society Institute of East Africa (OSIEA), and United States Agency for International Development (DANIDA).

Over the years, Carol has been able to monitor and advocate for women participation in politics. For example in 2010, Carol trained women on their gains as espoused in the Constitution of Kenya that was promulgated the same year. In 2017, she developed a gender sensitive election monitoring tool that was utilized by the Kenya Human Rights Commission and its partners to monitor the participation of women during 2017 political primaries, voter registration and Elections Day.

Carol holds a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the United States International University- Africa (USIU-A) and a Masters of Business Administration from the same university.

In her spare time, Carol enjoys watching movies, hanging out with family and friends, shopping and travelling.

Melizah portrait
Melizah Memena

Grantmaking Programme Assistant

A Malagasy national living in Benin, Melizah is a pan-African human rights activist in various parts of Africa. Proud to be part of the network of Young Francophones for the Promotion of the French language, she is a very active contact in the Francophone feminist movements, especially in West Africa and Madagascar. 

Melizah has a Master’s degree in marketing with a specialisation in Communication and the use of social media. After her studies, she deepened her knowledge in community development and has more than 7 years of experience in several international organisations. Melizah has been in the line of young women’s rights advocates and UNFPA activists in her home country Madagascar. She has advocated for young people from Madagascar in South Africa and Namibia. She then helped set up the communication for the Jeux de la Francophonie 2017 in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. This experience at the heart of culture and diversity was a springboard for her career at the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie in France. She then contributed to the improvement and protection of children’s rights and women’s empowerment in the Republic of Benin within SOS Children’s Villages Benin.  Melizah is currently involved in promoting womn’s rights in Africa with UAF-Africa, and wants to make a difference.

In her spare time, Melizah likes to travel. Her discoveries give her ideas for vlogs and blogs that she shares from time to time with her friends and family. Melizah is also passionate about research and data, hence she spends much of her free time writing about the research she has done. She also has a website where she shares her research on sustainable development and women’s lives.

Mukuku Francoise
Francoise Mukuku​

Board Member (DRC)

Francoise Mukuku is a human rights activist and an independent consultant on women and sexual minorities’ issues. She has 20 years of activism. She is currently the Executive Director of Amazone Consultancy- a gender justice and communications firm based in Kinshasa, in Democratic Republic of Congo (RDC). Francoise works mainly in the Great Lakes Region (Democratic Republic of Congo, Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda, and Tanzania) as well as francophone Africa (Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, Gabon, Republic of Congo, Benin, Togo and Senegal) where she has specialized in research and communications. In her consultancy work, Francoise has worked with organisations such as; Akina Mama wa Africa , APC, UHAI, UNECA and the University of Sussex, UK. Francoise is an engaged activist who founded SJS, a DRCongo inclusive young feminist group in 2001. She regularly organises trainings in Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights, Agency and Voice, and is passionate particularly on the intersections that exist between development, human rights and social justice. Prior to being an independent consultant, she worked for renowned organisations such as Oxfam GB, MONUC/MONUSCO (UN Peacekeeping Mission in DRCONGO) and International Music Council (IMC). Francoise has good language skills; she speaks Lingala, Kiluba, Kibembe, Kiswahili, French, English and working knowledge of Spanish. She holds a BA in public law from the Université Protestante au Congo (2005) and a MA from Mercure International (2012). Francoise is a storyteller who enjoys traveling, reading books and the performing arts.