REFDAF, or Women’s Network for a Sustainable Development in Africa started their field activities on the second semester of the year 2000, obtaining recognition as an organisation from the Senegalese Secretary of the Interior in May 2001.
REFDAF brings together 150 grassroot women associations and associated federations based just as much on urban as rural backgrounds, despite the fact 80% of these actually reside within rural areas. It is through REFDAF that thousands of mothers coming from ten regions of the country have been grouped. Only the region of Matam in the North East of the country is yet to be engaged with the organisation’s activity, however the structuring of our network is still in process and working towards making of this region a member.
After 5 intensive years of initiations, exchanges, thinking processes and experiences put into practice on the field, we arrive at the culmination of our National Program. The document constitutes the ensemble of varying regional programs which include wide scope agricultural projects, craft and semi-industrial processing and packaging businesses, training programs which render women qualified in professional, social, cultural and human spheres, a large social housing project for women and their families and a program for the commercialisation of women’s produce through REFDAF’s Space for Exchange.
As can be read in the name of the organisation, and having started its activities with the foundation of a Senegalese antenna, we nurture the principle of reaching out to other countries in Africa. At present time, contacts have already been established with associations and women networks from the West African South-Region; Guinea Conakry, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Mauritania and Gambia.
We have then taken advantage of our participation as an organization in international meetings (Sustainable Development Summit 2002, Johannesburg, South Africa, Social World Polycentric Forum, 2006, Bamako, Mali, World Social Forum 2007, Nairobi Kenya) in order to encounter and discuss with other African women organisations ways of expanding REFDAF’s activity into other countries.
The Malian Antenna culminated at the Bamako Social Forum in 2007. Conscious of women’s weaknesses in networking as part of their everyday problems, REFDAF has chosen to work in creating a network of African women associations so they will be able to defend their rights together.