#MasksForAll: the struggle of women of the African Diaspora against the COVID-19

Written by ADEPT

10 September 2020

#MasksForAll: women of the African Diaspora’s fight against COVID-19

 

Owing to the major role played by African diaspora organisations and individuals in the African continent’s development, ADEPT, the Africa-Europe Diaspora Development Platform, is keen to highlight initiatives of the African diaspora based in the EU but also in Switzerland, the United Kingdom and Norway. ADEPT works towards achieving a main goal: improving and strengthening the capacity and impact of African diaspora organizations involved in development activities in Africa.

This article is dedicated to courageous, enterprising, voluntary women. Gathered within the association Femmes PluriElles, they have, since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, intensified their actions by launching the project #MasksForAll, a means both to protect populations and to give them work. Spotlight on these beautiful women’s initiatives.

Zambia, Cameroon, Guinea: 3 countries, 3 projects.

The need for the project #MasksForAll became obvious when the Covid-19 crisis started. It was imperative to finance the production of masks, to entrust their manufacture to seamstresses located in Africa and to organize awareness workshops on COVID-19 during which the masks and soap/gel disinfectant were distributed to vulnerable communities.

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/XH-auimYt6Sw9IlE2wbQ4r5TH2_nNWp-kNwEdVMwzkFpXUBUF4X0R7KP7btRepub4PzXtnw_NLlpdhT0H2Aa1JPkE9Na2lqMXMSzFdwcESYyBpBueD2u9Y-DkTw-2w

The association’s action could not, however, be spread too thinly. It, therefore, focused on three countries in which it had effective relays, namely:

Zambia: the local relay was a women’s cooperative. The association Femmes PluriElles proposed them to join the movement, making them a promise: that of supporting their action after the health crisis by providing them with fields to enable them to meet their needs in complete autonomy.

https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/VmqJuTp9TIsA7zcpXQSqzFOwPcwksdrvbCynAJMqD-eRGEV8jc_b7IHFpkVpQM7FQm1iI5u9cUtY9F8xFS_wnvmrTbxikmneIGjvzGCAMtP39JgF0QsDf4ULIz80iQ

– Cameroon: the two targeted communities were orphanages with a population of 100 to 150 individuals. The #MasksForAll movement, through the Femmes PluriElles association, managed to equip all of these populations – children and educators – with masks and hydroalcoholic gel.

– Guinea: In this country, the #MasksForAll movement has decided to help sex workers. It is indeed a precarious and ostracized population. But for the association Femmes PluriElles, they are simply women not to be abandoned. They too have been equipped with masks and gel.

In total, approximately 5,000 people have benefited from the assistance provided by the #MasksForAll movement; in the form of mask distribution, awareness workshops on COVID-19 contamination and barrier gestures, and the supply of soap and hydroalcoholic gel.

Femmes PluriElles, an organisation with character!

Marie-Pierre Nyatanyi Biyiha is of Rwandan origin. She holds a degree in political science and international relations, as well as a degree in international law from the Free University of Brussels. She has been involved in the struggle for women’s rights since her youth. She is responsible for the non-profit organisation Djaili Mbock and coordinates the Femmes Plurielles platform, which was launched in 2016 following the publication of the book “Pluralities: Women of the African Diaspora”.

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/codo3KGCg3breDs7dleAr-Ewohdqrpn2DOWWWyanf13NbWPOG26JL3gSwEe2J4_xnIW2kcAOAcb8mpQPlob7BXXSDr3uZqTSBstkT6O6OKERE97GArBseWkmU0YOKQ

The #MasksForAll project was initiated by Awa Sene Sarr who is the President of Lingeer-YI, an organisation that brings together women of Senegalese origin from various professions: artists, educators, lawyers, journalists, socio-anthropologists, etc. Lingeer Asbl is a melting pot of talent, experience and know-how.

Both are, like “Femmes PluriElles”: strong, enterprising and independent. By coordinating the manufacture of masks by African women, the association has enabled them to face the health crisis, as well as the economic crisis, thus generating a new generation of women:

  • Sources of income for seamstresses
  • Sources of income for soap and gel sellers/producers
  • Protection of these communities against COVID-19
  • Building women’s leadership capacity

 

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