Oct 03 2011

TrustAfrica Now - October 2011

TrustAfrica Now
October 2011
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Greetings from Dakar!

With your help, TrustAfrica is reaching out more than ever to make an impact around the continent. We are convening and sponsoring meetings (our grantee spotlight comes from the recent gender conference we co-sponsored), writing books to help strengthen civil society and the legislative process and making videos about the amazing strides our grantees have made combating gender violence. Earlier this week, the news reported the death of Dr. Wangari Maathai, a great activist and the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize for her work on the environment, women's rights and human rights. While we mourn her loss, one can't help but reflect on her story--a poignant reminder that the work all of us do can impact the world in unimaginable ways. The TrustAfrica/Liberia office, in collaboration with ActionAid/Liberia will be holding a vigil in honor of Dr. Maathai on Thursday, November 29. More details to come. In the meantime, we hope you'll take a look at what's below and keep us informed of your latest developments.

Conference Inspires Innovative Business Approaches
"The Business of Social and Environmental Innovation" to take place in Cape Town, November 14-16
Text messaging has been an used as an innovative approach to commerce

How can you inspire innovation while making a contribution towards achieving some of the Millennium Development Goals? TrustAfrica is proud to be a co-sponsor for a conference entitled "The Business of Social and Environmental Innovation" (BSEI) which will take place at the University of Cape Town Graduate School of Business in Cape Town, South Africa on November 14-16, 2011.

The conference will bring together academics, entrepreneurs and practitioners who will present scholarly contributions, as well as case studies, on the projects they have been working on to address these challenges. BSEI seeks to identify and highlight some of the existing partnerships, both formal and informal, that occur between the private sector, governments, civil society and academia; share best practices; and inspire creative thinking and innovative approaches to pressing social and environmental issues.

The conference will start with an optional fieldtrip to explore some of the Cape's townships where participants can get a feel for the social needs and business opportunities there. During the proceedings, participants will be able to choose from parallel sessions where scholarly papers will be presented; dedicated sessions and dynamic discussions with entrepreneurs and practitioners will also be offered.

Seven of the papers that will be presented are from studies paid for by the Investment Climate and Business Environment (ICBE) Research Fund, a project supported by TrustAfrica and the International Development and Research Center (IDRC).

For more information on the Conference, including how to register and costs, please visit the Conference Website. A reduced conference registration fee is available to students.

Spotlight on Dr. Nestorine Compaoré: Gender Activist/Minister for the Promotion of Women, Burkina Faso
Former grant recipient crosses over and shares her thoughts on fighting the good fight
Dr. Nestorine Campaoré, Minister for the Promotion of Women, Burkina Faso

On the outside, Dr .Nestorine Compaoré has the comportment of a high-ranking government official. Intelligent, thoughtful, well-dressed, articulate, she is at ease speaking to everyone. One could easily believe that she came to her current position as a civil servant through the usual channels. However, once Dr. Compaoré begins to discuss her favorite subject, gender, the activist in her emerges. Her eyes light up, her speech quickens and you can almost see the ideas travel through her as she transmits them to the listener.

Her story is unusual in that there was no straight line that took her to where she is today. From 2002-2009, she was working three full-time jobs: gender advisor for the Center of Democratic Governance in Burkina Faso, gender consultant at the Dutch Embassy, and lecturer on gender at the University of Ouagadougou. However, she was dissatisfied with the available information on gender in Burkina Faso and realized that her country needed better gender resources. She decided to end her consultancy and create the Center for Research and Intervention in Gender and Development (CRIGED). Using her own financing, as well as fundraising, little by little she developed the center to where it is today.

"I realized that most experts have good ideas, but if you don't have a site, people can't transform their ideas into action; they lose energy," she said. "When I worked with civil society, it gave me an opportunity to push for a cause I believed in. That's why I changed my position from the donor side to civil society."

CRIGED is a technical center for research on gender and development; it provides technical support to all stakeholders including government, civil society, universities, women's networks, etc. It also provides monitoring and evaluation on issues of gender and development, and serves as a tool for capacity building of organizations, including advocacy work and activities related to impacting gender policies. With the support of TrustAfrica (including several grants to build capacity for gender organizations) and a host of other donors, CRIGED has become the "go-to" resource for information on gender issues in West Africa.

After developing such a successful organization, one would think Dr. Compaoré would at last feel satisfied, but fate had other plans. In early 2011, she was asked to be Minister for the Promotion of Women.

"When I changed sides to join civil society, I realized I lost a lot of power, in terms of the consideration and attention I had from previous colleagues and ministries because I was no longer a donor--just someone who wanted change."

Dr. Compaoré views her position as Minister as a chance to work within the system to affect change. "This position gives me an opportunity to improve the legal provisions, build capacity of actors, CSOs, ministries, the first lady, even the President himself. It is important to sensitize people on gender."

Few people can work for civil society, donor organizations and the government on a cause they feel passionate about. Her experience has afforded Dr. Compaoré a unique vantage point on how to win in the struggle for gender equality. "I started to understand things differently, because sometimes I think we judge people without knowing their constraints. When you know their constraints, instead of being confrontational, which discourages them and affects them in the wrong way, you can be more comprehensive and constructive."

Enhancing Women's Dignity Documentary Gives Voice to Disempowered Women
Video Seeks to Showcase Projects on Ending Gender Violence

We are proud to showcase our latest video, a documentary on our Enhancing Women's Dignity project, which seeks to stop gender violence and increase women's political participation in seven French-speaking countries in Central and West Africa.

The film was shot on-location in several of the project countries, including the Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal and Mali, where it documents the activities of women who are leading the way to improve their socio-economic conditions and increase their political representation. The project began in June 2009 with an MDG3 Fund grant from the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Since then, TrustAfrica has administered grants to organizations that work to increase women's participation in politics and public administration and halt violence against women. In total, there have been 39 grants, impacting the lives of thousands of women.

"Advancing International Criminal Justice in Africa: State Responsibility, the ICC, and the AU -- Towards an Effective Advocacy Response"
Strategy Meeting Seeks to Engage Civil Society and Other Stakeholders in the Growing Backlash Against the International Criminal Court

In an effort to strategize around the growing dissatisfaction with the structures of democracy and governance in Africa, in particular the roles played by the African Union (AU), the International Criminal Court (ICC) and others, TrustAfrica is convening a strategy meeting on the ICC and Africa in collaboration with the MacArthur Foundation and the Center for Citizen Participation on the AU. The meeting, organized under the theme "Advancing International Criminal Justice in Africa: State Responsibility, the ICC, and the AU--Towards an Effective Advocacy Response," will take place in Nairobi, Kenya on November 14-16, 2011.

The meeting provides an opportunity for stakeholders, including CSOs, policy experts, scholars and individual activists to devise a civil society advocacy strategy that will effectively respond to the ICC backlash in Africa and give funders a better sense of how to engage in collaborative grant-making around these issues. Kenyan Chief Justice Dr. Willy Mutunga has agreed to deliver the Keynote speech. Participants will be drawn from all five geographic sub-regions of Africa, as well as the African Diaspora.

Coming at a time when African States under the AU have threatened to withdraw from the ICC, the strategy meeting aims at developing ways to promote more constructive debates about the ICC within the AU and move the discourse towards promoting national-level accountability for international crimes through entities such as the ICC.

For further information regarding the outcome of the meeting, please check the TrustAfrica Website.

New Publication Assesses the Legislative Environment for Civil Society
Analyzing challenges and opportunities in 18 nations
Civil society books

Together with the Southern Africa Trust, we have published a 429-page book about the legislative environment for civil society in 18 countries in Central, East and Southern Africa. Edited by Bhekinkosi Moyo, our program director, (Dis) Enabling the Public Sphere: Civil Society Regulation in Africa (Volume 1) also features a foreword by Graca Michel. It is available in hardcover, softcover and PDF format. The book was formally launched at recent dialogues in Dakar, Senegal, and Pretoria, South Africa.

Our Team is Growing
Meet our newest staff members

Ezekiel Pajibo joined TrustAfrica in September 2011 as the Project Director for the Liberia Civil Society Initiative. Mr. Pajibo comes to us from Witts University where he was a Research Fellow for the Encyclopedia of Genocide in Africa project. A graduate of Howard University in the US, Mr. Pajibo has a remarkable track record in the fields of civil society advocacy and policy research. In the early 1980s (during the military rule of Samuel Doe), he served as the president of the Liberia National Students Union (UNSU) and was imprisoned by Doe and spotlighted by Amnesty international as a prisoner of conscience. He also worked for the Africa Faith and Justice Network as well as the American Friends Service Committee and as a consultant for AFRODAD, MWENGO and Human Rights Watch. At the end of the Liberian civil war in 2003, Mr. Pajibo returned home and worked as a consultant for the Open Society Institute and subsequently served as the Executive Director of the Center for Democratic Empowerment. He has written extensively and seminally on civil society issues and is a highly-respected champion for human rights in Africa. He speaks English, French and Krao.

ImageSue Telingator, Communications Specialist, comes to us with over 27 years of experience in the communications field.  Most recently, she was the Development Outreach and Communications Specialist with USAID/Senegal.  She has also worked for UNICEF and was a Peace Corps volunteer in Namibia.  In addition to being an author and ghostwriter, Ms. Telingator has worked as a journalist for the Chicago Tribune, among several other publications.  She also served as President of the National Writer’s Union in Chicago, where she helped in the fight for writer’s e-rights resulting in a landmark Supreme Court decision against The New York Times.  She holds a bachelor’s degree from Barnard College, Columbia University and Master’s degrees from DePaul University in the US, and the Network University in The Netherlands.  She speaks English and French.

TrustAfrica to Take Part in First Webinar Hosted by the European Foundation Centre
Digital Storytelling Banner

Digital storytelling is a 21st century take on the traditional art of storytelling - and foundations have never had more tools at hand to bring their work to life on screen. The EFC's first-ever webinar will focus on the value that digital storytelling (whether produced or funded by foundations) can have in achieving greater impact, whether it be for policy change, advocacy, learning, or engaging vulnerable or marginalised groups.

Two expert speakers will present case studies of how their respective organisations are involved in digital storytelling, what the benefits have been and why other foundations can benefit from capturing the essence of their work on camera.

Vivian Paulissen, Youth and Media Programme Manager, European Cultural Foundation
Susan Telingator, Communications Specialist, TrustAfrica

Our Web Presence is Growing
Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, Picasa and YouTube

Social networking sites are a great way to stay in touch with TrustAfrica — and to exchange ideas with others who share an interest in democracy and development in Africa. On Twitter and Facebook, we post short, timely reflections about issues of the day. On Picasa, we showcase photos of our events and the work of our grantees. On YouTube, we present interviews and videos about our work and the challenges facing Africa.

Support our work

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We extend a heartfelt thanks to all who responded to our last appeal for support. Your crucial contributions sustain our work and reduce our reliance on institutional donors.

Contributions to TrustAfrica, a 501(c)(3) organization that has earned the GuideStar Exchange Seal, are tax deductible in the United States to the full extent allowable by law. Please consider making a donation today to qualify for a tax deduction this calendar year.



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TrustAfrica is dedicated to securing the conditions for democratic governance and equitable development in Africa, and we can't do it without people like you. We hope you'll visit our Website and blog often, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, read about our workshops and grant making, and join our $100 per year campaign.


Akwasi Aidoo
Executive Director, TrustAfrica

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