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The 20 for 20 Solidarity Awards: Advancing the Maputo Protocol

In partnership with Equality Now, The Solidarity for African Women’s Rights (SOAWR) Coalition launched the 20 for 20 Solidarity Awards to commemorate Africa Day and the 20th Anniversary of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (Maputo Protocol).

The 20 for 20 Solidarity Awards recognize and celebrate individuals and organizations who made exceptional contributions towards the promotion and uptake of the Maputo Protocol at national, regional, and continental levels, identified in 9 distinct categories. The call for nominees was launched on Africa Day, calling for the public to vote for those whom they truly believed had contributed to the advancement of gender equality as espoused in the Maputo Protocol. The response was resounding. In just under 4 weeks, the 20 for 20 Solidarity Awards had garnered close to 500 nominations.

20 for 20 Solidarity Awards Categories

1. Normative Change category   

Recognizes Women’s rights activists who were instrumental in the adoption of the Maputo Protocol, including the drafting and negotiation of the treaty, have contributed to the ratification and accession of the Maputo Protocol by one or more AU Member States, and have led or contributed to the actual lifting of reservations by governments, and to law reform and enforcement, nationally or regionally.

Recognizes Women’s rights activists who were instrumental in the adoption of the Maputo Protocol, including the drafting and negotiation of the treaty, have contributed to the ratification and accession of the Maputo Protocol by one or more AU Member States, and have led or contributed to the actual lifting of reservations by governments, and to law reform and enforcement, nationally or regionally.


Josephine Chandiru Drama                                    

Director,  Steward Women, South Sudan          

Josephine Chandiru Drama is the Director of Steward Women, a women-led organization in South Sudan. She supported the prosecution of the first child marriage case in South Sudan and has been a key influencer in pushing the country’s line ministries to ratify the  Maputo Protocol. Her efforts yielded in  South Sudan becoming the 44th African country to ratify the Protocol in June 2023, and she is now actively involved with the technical team working on its implementation and domestication.

Josephine’s organization Steward Women, is on Twitter  @steward_women


Rabha Fathi – Member, National Council of Human Rights Egypt

Rabha Fathi is a member of the National Council of Human Rights, and her organization was the first partner in SOAWR – Egypt. For years, Rabha has pushed for the Maputo Protocol to be signed and ratified by her country, Egypt. Through consistent advocacy efforts, Fathy has managed to unlock rather challenging dialogue channels with high-level decision-makers in the government. So far, through her efforts and many others, the Maputo Protocol is being considered for ratification.

2. Resilience category                                                                     

Winner – African Center for Democracy and Human Rights Studies (ACDHRS), The Gambia

ACDHRS contributes to policy changes that advance gender equality in Africa by focusing on gender mainstreaming, women’s political participation, legal reforms, combating gender-based violence, and women’s economic empowerment. Over the years, ACDHRS has played a significant role in advocating for the ratification and implementation of key human rights instruments at the national level. This includes encouraging African countries to ratify international human rights treaties such as the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), and the Maputo Protocol.

ACDHRS can be found on Twitter @ACDHRS


Dr. Zoneziwoh Mbondgulo-Wondieh

Executive Director at Women for A Change in Cameroon 

Dr. Zoneziwoh Mbondgulo-Wondieh is an award-winning feminist, humanitarian, storyteller and researcher with over ten years of experience in gender and digital activism, movement building, policy advocacy and youth leadership. She is the Executive Director at Women for A Change in Cameroon. Her advocacy involves creating spaces for women and girls to engage with policy and decision-makers at the highest levels, including the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), and translating and raising awareness on national and international women’s rights protocols and frameworks, including the Maputo protocol and the Beijing Platform for Action.

3. Access to Justice category            

Recognizes women’s rights activists who have contributed through the legal representation of women and girls on the rights under the Maputo Protocol- with notable progressive decisions from national, regional, and continental judicial and quasi-judicial bodies, contributing to the advancement of the rights enumerated under the substantive Articles 2 through to 24 of the Maputo Protocol.

Winner – Madame Doumbia Mama Koite

Trade unionist and Former Director National Commission of Working Women, Mali

Mama Koite is a trade unionist and a leading women’s rights activist in Mali. Her work includes organizing leadership training, developing women’s rights programs, and engaging in advocacy activities with government officials at various levels. Mama Koite has significantly contributed to popularizing the Maputo Protocol and establishing the SOAWR Coalition to monitor and enforce it. Her advocacy efforts at African Union Summits and the United Nations led to the adoption of commitments on gender equality and combating discrimination against women and girls by African and global leaders.


Women’s Legal Aid Centre (Republic of Tanzania)

WLAC has been at the forefront in strategic litigation cases that have had a significant impact on women’s rights and gender equality in Tanzania. They have represented clients in landmark court cases, challenging discriminatory laws, and advocating for legal interpretations that promote women’s rights. Through strategic litigation, WLAC has set legal precedents by actively campaigning for amendments to the Law of Marriage Act to address issues such as child marriage and polygamy. And they have also advocated for reforms in land laws to protect women’s land rights and address gender disparities.

4. Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights category    

Recognizes champions who have advocated for and contributed to the realization of the enjoyment of sexual reproductive health and rights (SRHR) as provided for under Article 14 of the Maputo Protocol, including those who have contributed to Normative change – reform of laws and policies on SRHR, Institutional change – advocacy for or set up of relevant institutions, Attitudinal change – change in society’s perception and attitude towards SRHR-related topics or services, including fostering public debate on SRHR.

Ingabire Divine

Founder and Executive Director, I Matter, Rwanda

Divine Ingabire is the founder and executive director of I Matter, an organization actively working to combat period poverty and menstrual shame in Rwanda. The  I Matter Initiative works on promoting gender equality and addressing barriers that hinder women and girls’ access to education. They support over 1500 women and girls in Rwanda by providing sustainable and eco-friendly sanitary products and carry out community outreach programs and school visits. The I Matter Initiative actively campaigns for policy reforms, engages in strategic advocacy and collaborates with key stakeholders, and successful outcomes include the effective removal of the tax on menstrual pads in Rwanda.

Divine is on Twitter @DivineIngabire3


Tanzania Women Lawyers Association (TAWLA)

The Tanzania Women Lawyers Association (TAWLA) is a Non-Governmental Organization dedicated to advocating for gender equality, human dignity, and gender justice through policy, legal reforms, community action, and media engagement. TAWLA formed the Coalition to Address Maternal Morbidity and Mortality caused by unsafe Abortion and its Complications (CAMMAC) and has undertaken various initiatives, including media training on reporting unsafe abortion, engaging policymakers for the domestication of the Maputo Protocol, and establishing a Legal Support Network for private service providers. TAWLA has been instrumental in creating positive changes in norms, institutions, and attitudes surrounding, while also raising awareness, building capacity, and advocating for individual rights in Tanzania.

5. Gender-based violence, violence against women and ending harmful practices category

The GBV, VAWG and EHP Category celebrates persons who have demonstrated admirable advocacy and achievements in the promotion, protection, and enjoyment of the rights of women and girls under Articles 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 of the Maputo Protocol, by advocating for: Ending Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV), Ending Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG), Ending Harmful Practices such as Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), widow inheritance, child marriage, forced marriages etc., Protection of Women in Armed Conflicts (Article 11).

Dr. Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda      

Founder and Chief Executive, Rozaria Memorial Trust, Zimbabwe

Dr. Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda is a trained human rights lawyer and the Founder and Chief Executive of Rozaria Memorial Trust, the organization she established in memory of her late mother.Dr. Nyaradzayi has played a leading role in advocating for the development of the Maputo Protocol. As the Regional Director for UNIFEM (now UN Women) in East and Horn of Africa, she was involved in negotiations with the African Union, participating in expert meetings and the policy session for adoption. She has provided technical and financial support as an active member of the Zimbabwe Women Lawyers Association and WILDAF. Following its adoption by the African Union, she was involved in popularizing the Protocol and has participated in SOAWAR initiatives pushing for ratification. Dr. Nyaradzayi is a former World YWCA General Secretary, and between 2014 and 2022, she was the Goodwill Ambassador of the African Union Campaign to End Child Marriage. Throughout her influential career, she has positioned the Protocol as a critical reference point for prohibiting child marriage and violence against women and girls and advancing human rights. 

Dr. Nyaradzayi is on twitter @vanyaradzayi

6. Women’s Economic Empowerment category                                     

Winner – Association of Women in Agriculture, Kenya – AWAK

The Association of Women in Agriculture Kenya has successfully equipped more than 5000 women with skills in urban farming, baking, briquette making, business development, and mental health support, creating a transformative impact on their lives. AWAK’s outstanding contribution lies in its comprehensive approach to economically empowering vulnerable women in urban slums. Their diverse training programs foster entrepreneurship, improve livelihoods, and enhance the overall well-being of women in the slum areas of Kenya.

AWAK can be found on Twitter @AssociationAwak


Monica Yator, Founder and Executive Director of Indigenous Women and Girls Initiative

Monicah Yator is the Founder and Executive Director of Indigenous Women and Girls Initiative, a community-based organisation advocating for the rights of Indigenous women and girls in Baringo County (Kenya) and beyond. She is an activist, feminist and woman human rights defender who is passionate about women’s social, economic and pollical inclusion in decision processes and practices. Through her organization and in a society where issues of land are mainly handled by men, Yator has empowered women on the importance of land rights and sensitized them on alternative sources of livelihood. She uses her knowledge of agroecology to train the women and girls in Baringo County so that they can use the land they own to harvest alternative sources of income.

7. Women’s Political Rights category                                          

Winner – Gender Centre for Empowering Development 

(GenCED), Ghana

GenCED was the first Civil Society Organization to develop a scorecard on the Maputo Protocol in Ghana, and it has trained others during the Gender Is My Agenda Campaign (GIMAC). To help advance gender parity in political leadership, GenCED has established a political leadership school for young women in West Africa. By providing capacity and network building, the participants are empowered to participate in governance and run for office in seven ECOWAS countries. GenCED also hosts the West African Young Women in Politics Forum, where young women from the ECOWAS region meet annually to discuss how they can improve young women’s political participation in the region. 

GenCED is on Twitter @GenCEDgh


Florence Ikuvbogie Gbinigie (Nigeria) 

Florence has dedicated over a decade to advocating for women’s political rights, playing a pivotal role in the formation of the Forum of Nigerian Women in Politics. She has shown unwavering resilience in bringing more women into political participation, working closely with various stakeholders. Florence’s recommendations have been incorporated by political parties, and she was appointed as the Commissioner for Women Affairs in Edo state, where she achieved remarkable success. Her accomplishments have made a lasting impact on women’s empowerment in Nigeria.

8. Inclusion and Diversity category                                                             

Winner – Coalition on Violence Against Women, Kenya

The Coalition on Violence Against Women (COVAW) is a national non-profit feminist women’s rights organization established in 1995 to respond to the silence of Kenyan society in addressing Violence Against Women and Girls (VAWG). 

COVAW has been actively litigating cases, one of which is a case that seeks the repeal of Section 146 of the Penal Code and Section 125(2) of the Evidence Act of Kenya discriminating against persons with intellectual challenges by referring to them as idiots and imbeciles. COVAW also led a consortium of organizations in filing a constitutional petition seeking reparations for SGBV victims during the 2007/2008 post-elections violence. 13 years later, in December 2020, the High Court of Kenya passed judgment in favor of the petition, awarding compensation to some of the victims.

COVAW is on Twitter @covaw

9. Young Women for Maputo Protocol category  


Caroline Awour Agwanda (Kenya)

Caroline is a champion of women and girls with disability inclusion. Through her activism, she initiated a module of Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) with disability mainstreaming in the women’s participation in the political process training manual as well as empowering more than five hundred women with disabilities to do business. Caroline has won the economic justice Award in Egypt and the UN Innovation Award for investing in the use of water hyacinth weed for women with disabilities, and was among UN Women’s 50 Journeys stories of courage and transformation from women political leaders in Kenya – Transforming the counties and beyond.

Aya Chebbi

Founder and President, Nalafem Collective, Tunisia

Aya Chebbi is a Pan-African feminist and diplomat whose mission is the liberation of African women and girls. She rose to prominence as a voice for democracy during 2010/2011 Tunisia’s peaceful Revolution. She was the first-ever African Union Special Envoy on Youth and the youngest diplomat at the Chairperson’s Cabinet (2018 – 2021). In this role, she is known for pioneering the concept of “Intergenerational Co-leadership” – a generational approach to empower young women to occupy leadership positions they deserve. Aya is the Founder and President of Nalafem Collective, one of Africa’s largest multigenerational platforms of women politicians and activists united behind transformative feminist change.

Aya is on twitter @aya_chebbi


Oluwadamilola Dorcas Akintewe ,Nigeria.


Oluwadamilola Akintewe is a passionate feminist who in 2018, founded PROJECT REBIRTH, which promotes economic development in marginalised communities and Internal Displacement Camps, providing women with skills training, mentorship, and resources (soft loans) to start their own businesses and improve their livelihoods. She also runs Forbidden Topics, a feminist collective that amplifies young women’s voices on SGBV and SRHR. Forbidden Topics leveraged evidence-based advocacy across 25+ countries in a solidarity movement for policy reforms, for which she was awarded the Princess Diana Award and Margaret Ekpo Fellowship.