Jeunes Filles Actrices de Développement (Young Girls Acting for Development) is a feminist collective in Benin that works for the respect of girls’ and women’s rights, the reinforcement of sexual and reproductive health and rights and the elimination of gender-based violence.
PREVENTION TO COMBAT VIOLENCE
JFAD IN A FEW WORDS
The collective has taken as its compass the elimination of the deep-rooted causes of gender-based violence: to understand the roots of this violence and to work for a change in behaviour and mentalities through constructive exchanges in caring spaces and by following the principles of feminist popular education.
In addition to prevention, JFAD also proposes responses to improve the management of cases of gender-based violence and strengthen the protection of survivors.
GENDER-BASED VIOLENCE IN UNIVERSITIES
By organising workshops in Benin’s universities, in particular at the University of Abomey-Calavi, the largest university in Benin, the collective has noted that the university environment is not immune to psychological, sexual and physical violence. Relationships between students and between students and professors are marked by this.
This violence is based on an asymmetrical power relationship between teachers and students. In the vast majority of cases, the victims suffer in silence. They are afraid to speak out, think about their future, the investments of their parents and feel guilty.
Gender-based and sexual harassment is the main form of violence faced by female students. It is also one of the main reasons why their studies are hindered: some victims are forced to change universities, others stop their studies altogether.
FOCUS ON THE WE GO FOR CHANGE PROJECT
We go for change is a project to promote sexual and reproductive health and rights and to fight against gender-based violence among students at the University of Abomey-Calavi.
The association organises awareness-raising workshops and educational talks to address topics that are still taboo, such as discrimination and gender-based violence (GBV), the importance of speaking out, the dangers of out-of-court settlements and the dangers of clandestine abortions.
Through this project, the organisation promotes zero tolerance of gender-based violence. It is conducting advocacy actions with university teams to popularise the new laws on GBV in Benin and is supporting the setting up of a Health & Wellbeing Space within the University.
The latter is designed as a space for conversations, listening to victims and guiding students on GBV and sexual and reproductive health and rights. It is not a physical office as such, but a space for exchange that takes place once a month on campus.
Through the advocacy actions it implements, the awareness-raising sessions it organises, the research and documents it produces, FJAD contributes to building the feminist ecosystem in Benin. In this sense, these young activists are true actors of development. To learn more about feminist CSOs around the world and to keep up to date with the progress of the Feminists in Action initiative, go to the News section.