Southern Africa: Voice and Choice awards   

Johannesburg, 8 November 2023: Grantees from 36 organisations across six SADC countries walked away with prizes in ten categories at a vibrant closing gala dinner on 2 November at the Kopanong Hotel and conference centre in Benoni, Johannesburg. The countries represented include South Africa, Lesotho, Eswatini, Malawi, Tanzania and Zimbabwe.

From 1- 2 November 48 entrants made presentations at the Voice and Choice Summit Learning and Sharing Summit 2023. The 22 awards (10 winners and 12 runner ups) covered Organisational development, Leadership, Sex work, Gender Based Violence, Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health, Early pregnancies  & child marriages, LGBTQI+ Menstrual Health, and Safe abortion.

South Africa, with 11 winners scooped the most number of awards followed by four from Zimbabwe including an Amplify Change self-funding grantee from Phoebe Centre.  All three Tanzanian grantees took home an award whilst grantees from two organisations scooped awards. The only organisation representing eSwatini, Voice of our Voices was awarded the overall winner in the sex work category.

The summit witnessed the launch of the Safe Abortion Alliance (SAA) within the Voice and Choice partnership. These organisations will meet monthly to share ideas, knowledge and strategies for delivering safe abortion to the women of Southern Africa. The GBV joint campaigns team that Amplify Change hosted to go to the Women Deliver Conference in Kigali will be running the 16 Days of Activism Campaign across SADC.

Amplify Change Head of Grants Liz Tremlett congratulated the grantees for attaining an implementation rate of 30 % in the first six months if implementation. This is five percentage points higher than the target. She further congratulated grantees for raising an additional GBP 7,131 in in-kind support and a further GBP 122,528 in new grants since becoming VCSA Fund grantees. “These are new funds organisations have managed to secure. This is testament to the multiplier effect of the VCSA fund and how organisation sustainability may be attained,” she said.

Speaking on behalf of grantees Mary Chigumira from Unlimited Hope Alliance Trust-Zimbabwe, said, “I stand here today with immense gratitude to express our heartfelt appreciation to Amplify Change and Gender Links for their unwavering support, both financially and non-financially, in our collective journey towards achieving gender equality and social justice. The impact of Amplify Change and Gender Links support cannot be understated. Their dedication to amplifying the voices of marginalized communities and their commitment to addressing gender-based violence and promoting SRHR have been truly transformative.”

Chigumira further stated that, “As grantees, we have not only been recipients of their support but have become champions of their mission. We carry their vision in our hearts and committed to working tirelessly to sustain the outcomes of GBV, SRHR and equality.”

Phoebe Centre with offices in Zimbabwe and the UK, one of two self-funding organisations and a grant recipient of Amplyify Change walked away with the GBV prize. Judges commended the organisation for their focus on training of caregivers which has been left out in addressing issues of GBV, in most cases it is the victims where the focus is done. One judge said, “A unique presentation amongst the GBV category.” Another said, “A unique project that is working to address the mental health condition of women caregivers and mental health patients.”

Matebeleland Aids Council from Zimbabwe won the ASRHR Opportunity award, the judges said, “The project is aligned with VCSA objectives by providing mobile SRHR services, HIV services, contraception, menstrual cups and reusable pads, as well as a range of training and advocacy initiatives. The organisation has a good understanding of the problem being addressed, as well as good partnerships at all levels from national government to local councils and grassroots communities. Overall it was a good presentation on innovations.”

Voice of our Voices in Eswatini won in the Sex work category. Judges noted that, “The Organization is providing a service that is regarded as taboo in Eswatini. Innovative idea of mobile clinics that bring services directly to the sex workers. There is a strong “I” story of experience from the presenter.

In line with Gender Links Safe Guarding Policy, two presentations from LGBTQIA+ organisations were held in camera as presenters were not comfortable presenting in front of an audience.

Rita Tiriboyi emailed the GL team saying,”On behalf of RIGE team, I write to express our most heartfelt gratitude for attending the Voice and Choice Summit in Johannesburg.  The voice and choice grant is our first grant as an organization and it was also our first time to attend the summit, hence we learnt a lot. We appreciate the continuous capacity building being offered by Gender links as well as the networking platforms and opportunities which were reinforced at the summit. RIGE is not the same after the summit. Once again thank you for the learning opportunity.”

Voice and Choice Southern Africa (VCSA) is a challenge fund that responds to ideas presented by civil society to strengthen sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR). Gender Links manages the fund on behalf of Amplify Change, a fund to break the silence on SRHR.

Amplify Change has committed GBP 1.5 million over three years (2022-2025). Grantees include 38 Women’s Rights Organisations in eight Southern African Development Community (SADC) countries: South Africa, Lesotho, Eswatini, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, DRC and Tanzania. There are 29 smaller opportunity grants and 9 larger Movement Building Grants.

GL is guided by principles of feminist funding: inclusion; intersectionality; capacity building; making IT work for gender justice; supporting institutional growth and development including accessing.

For more information or contact details of the grantees contact the grants coordinator, Nomthandazo Mankazana on / 082 560 0066 OR visit the website VCSA Fund – Voice and Choice Southern Africa Fund. Follow our Facebook page and Twitter for more on the summit and the Voice and Choice Southern Africa Fund.

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