Over 500 African participants have attended Equitas’ International Human Rights Training Program (IHRTP) since the early 1990s and continue to do so. IHRTP alumni from Africa represent a broad range of actors including human rights and development civil society organizations, national institutions and government institutions working on issues such as women’s rights, children’s rights, HIV/AIDS, governance and democratization, socio-economic rights and political rights, among others.
Equitas’ first activities in the region took place towards the end of the 1990s and focused on the promotion and protection of the rights of women and girls. Between 2000-2004, Equitas worked with partners in Burkina Faso, Mali, Morocco and Niger on a program supported by the Agence Intergouvernementale de la Francophonie (AIF) to strengthen the capacity of non-governmental organizations to promote and protect the economic, social and cultural rights of girls working in domestic servitude. Between 2004-2008, Equitas organized a number of alumni meetings and advanced training of trainers sessions in Anglophone and Francophone Africa to further enhance the ability of IHRTP alumni to engage in effective human rights education activities.
These activities and consultations with partners in Francophone Africa and Anglophone led Equitas to develop its current programming in East and West Africa: the Global Human Rights Education Program (2008-2013).
Kenya: A 2002 IHRTP participant credits the program with strengthening his abilities as a human rights educator and defender. He was able to use these skills to help hundreds of thousands of Kenyan children attend school for the first time. The IHRTP helped him to understand the importance of working with the people, not just for the people.
Uganda: “The IHRTP does not even begin to properly describe the ripple effect that the Equitas training has all over the world. I can only imagine if all the participants of the IHRTP shared what they learnt, how much change could happen in all their countries and communities”. Helen Namyalo, IHRTP 2010
Burkina Faso: In Burkina Faso, violence against children in school settings is widespread. In May 2010, a group of 15 participants and alumni from Burkina Faso, representing NGOs and government institutions, collaborated to develop and implement a campaign aimed at fighting violence against children in schools. They broadcasted a series of radio programs in local languages, aired a program on national television and engaged over 800 children from five schools in Ouagadougou and Bobo Dioulasso on the issues of violence against children.
As part of the Global Human Rights Education Program, Equitas is continuing its work with IHRTP alumni from East (Anglophone) and West (Francophone) Africa to reinforce their capacity to design and deliver effective human rights education programs building upon the methodological approaches and content of Equitas’ annual IHRTP.
Francophone Africa: Over twenty Alumni in Burkina Faso, Cameroon and Senegal worked with Equitas to design and deliver a Sub-Regional Human Rights Training Session (Session sous-régionale d’éducation aux droits humains). This 2-week program, modelled on the content and methodology of the IHRTP in Montréal, was delivered in French and adapted to include African human rights instruments and mechanisms, address the specific context and issues of the targeted countries. The first session was delivered in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso by the alumni in February 2010 with coaching and support from Equitas. Evaluation activities and the collective activities allow for participants and alumni to remain engaged in networks, put their learning into practice and sessions were held for April 2011 in Dakar, Senegal and in 2012.
Anglophone Africa: Alumni in Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda worked with Equitas to design and deliver an East Africa Human Rights Program (EAHRP). This two-week program, delivered in English and adapted to address the specific context and issues of the targeted countries, is modelled on the content and methodology of the IHRTP in Montréal. The first session was delivered by the alumni in September 2010 with coaching and support from Equitas. A second session was held in March 2012 and a third in March 2013. A 4th EAHRP session will take place in Tanzania from April 24 to May 6, 2016.