REPORT LAUNCH The Autonomy Project: A report on Violence Against Women & Women’s Political Participation in Rwanda, Benin & Tunisia

CAL is pleased to launch ‘The Autonomy Project: A Report on Violence against Women (VAW) and Women’s Political Participation in Rwanda, Benin & Tunisia.’ The publication looks into the landscape of violence against women and women’s political participation in the three focus countries.

The Autonomy Project:

The Autonomy project started as a multi-country feminist campaign in Southern Africa led by women who are marginalised on the basis of sexuality and gender, including women living with HIV, women working on abortion, women of non-conforming sexualities and the expression of their sexualities, young women and sex workers. This project started as a consciousness raising effort on multiple intersecting oppressions and the effects these oppressions have on women’s freedoms and rights. At the end of 2018, CAL set out to expand the Autonomy project, through a two year expansion effort, to Benin, Rwanda and Tunisia. This expansion work was informed by CAL’s commitment to consciousness raising and strengthening feminist collectives, both of which are crucial components to an intersectional approach in feminist activism. CAL’s focus on Benin, Rwanda and Tunisia in this project was as a result of long established plans to kickstart the process of working in Northern Africa, to expand our work in East Africa to include Rwanda and to continue our work in West Africa.

About the report:

This report was prepared as part of the autonomy Project, and was supported by the African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF). The research aims of the expansion of the Autonomy Project included working with feminist activists and organisations in Benin, Rwanda and Tunisia to establish a knowledge base that would inform the work of shifting public and political conversations on gender and women’s sexuality to encompass the extent to which women’s freedom and bodily autonomy is constrained.

Objective & Highlights:

This report set out to primarily understand and outline the political and social contexts in which feminist activism takes place in the three countries. In addition to the descriptions of the situation of VAW and women’s political participation, the following are some of the highlights from the report:
There remains a significant disconnect between legislation, policy formulation and policy implementation in issues of violence against women and women’s political participation in Benin, Rwanda and Tunisia.
While there exists legislation on the political participation of women in Benin, Rwanda and Tunisia, legislation alone is insufficient to bolster participation.
Socio-economic factors rooted in traditional family and societal values which still hold significant weight in these countries hinder women’s participation in decision-making.
Loopholes and gaps in legislation make it difficult to formulate comprehensive policies that benefit victims of violence.
There is a scarcity of information on technology-facilitated violence against women in Benin, Rwanda and Tunisia.


The research team prepared this report through desk review and validated it with collective representatives. Desk research was conducted to achieve the following outcomes:

  • consolidate a review of literature on VAW and women’s political participation in Benin, Rwanda and Tunisia,
  • outline existing related policies,
  • explore the gaps and opportunities for advocacy in VAW and women’s political participation and,
  • explore the landscape of advocacy in women’s bodily autonomy and participation in governance.


It is our hope that this report will be a useful resource to feminist activists and organisations, persons with a keen interest in the eradication of violence against women (VAW) and the promotion of women’s political participation in Africa, policy makers, governments, change-makers, socio-legal researchers and those purposefully committed to the reform of injustices faced by women on the margins, including LBQ women. This report is also for those looking to expand and enrich feminist research jurisprudence in Africa, particularly on the two areas.


This report does not claim to paint a comprehensive or definitive picture of VAW and Women’s political participation in Benin, Rwanda and Tunisia. It is a compilation of different components of the two subject areas in a bid to provide information for the purposes of thinking about or re-thinking advocacy strategies by community based groups/collectives, civil society organisations and independent feminist activists working in Africa.

Download the report here

We would like to hear from you if you work in VAW and Women’s political participation, what research and knowledge have you produced on the subjects? What are your ideas on how activists can use the knowledge in this report to strengthen their advocacy? We also welcome any other related discussions, the research team can be reached through the addresses:



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