The birth and growth of AMwA 
AMwA was born in the UK 30 years ago over a cup of tea, in a sister’s kitchen. In a world where there is more preference for baby sons AMwA, though a girl, she was a wanted child. It was conceived after a careful analysis of and understanding of the situation of African women in UK- the loneliness, marginalization, lack of space for organizing for their own rights and visibility, and the need to give back to the women back home in Africa.

A group of women who believed that ‘our issues as African women are interconnected’ worked on a voluntary basis. Early activities included self-help programs, specifically helping African women transition into life in the United Kingdom.

For many of the women, AMwA became home, an oasis, a place for finding one’s soul. It was a home where they were not afraid to speak about themselves, craft their own agenda and analyze their own issues. AMwA became a space where the many voices of African women were woven into a composition of living, connected thinking and ideas.

First paid Director
In 1990, the organization welcomed its first paid Director and faced a major transition; the organization had to develop a focus and fund-raising initiatives to pay salaries. AMwA also began to reach out to African women in other parts of Europe, beyond the UK. These engagements promoted AMwA to come to the realization that its existence was clearly linked to what was happening on the continent. AMwA was party to the First African Women in the European Conference. The BBC sent a delegation to cover the proceedings. The women at the conference were featured for over a week on the BBC, this demonstrated how women were taking control of their own agenda (and how surprised the world was).

During the early days, conversations centred on establishing the identity and framework of the organization. It was deemed important for AMwA to state its position/values strongly and give others a chance to agree or resist. The conversations led to the branding of AMwA as a feminist organization. AMwA’s framework of analysis became feminist analysis. The organization was willing to travel with all the sisters while it politicised and created awareness about the importance of having a clear stance but was also ready to respect the views of those who did not believe in feminism. Indeed at this stage, some sisters who believed that feminism was “Un-African” dropped out of the organisation.

Embracing and mentoring young people 
AMwA realised the importance of developing an eye for new leadership and building on what was already there. And so it was that in 1995, AMwA led a delegation of young women to the Women’s Conference in Beijing. At this time, AMwA conducted a study to understand the challenges of young African women. The results of the study reflected that women on the continent did not have opportunities to express their ideas and no spaces to horn their skills. This led to the concept of creating a Leadership Institute for young women. At the time, leadership institutes existed in other parts of the world but not Africa. AMwA’s Director pledged to take the leadership institute to Africa. Again, demonstrating how AMwA was taking charge of its own agenda.

Establishment of AMwA office in Africa: In 1996, a regional office was established in Kampala, Uganda and would eventually serve as the main office for all of Africa and Europe. In February of 1997, the first leadership institute was conducted by AMwA. Today the institute has trained over 5000 alumni through African Women’s Leadership Institute (AWLIs). Initially, AMwA received feedback from donors claiming that the creation of a leadership institute was elitist and did not respond to the needs of women on the ground. It was clear that a funding organisation – An African Women’s fund­- that supported and funded authentic ideas and programmes was needed- An implicit picture of an African women’s fund begun to emerge.

Birthing of AWDF 
In 2001, two other women who had been thinking about an African Women’s Fund and had actually written a funding proposal, joined forces with AMwA and the African Women’s Development Fund was born. The fund has created transformation in the discourse on what is funded, by whom, where, when and how much.

Breaking silences on sexual rights
In 2005, AMwA organized the women’s rights play “The Vagina Monologues.” This received much controversy as an affront to public morality. The play was eventually banned by the government based on what was described as offensive language, vulgarity and the supposed promotion of homosexuality. Nevertheless, AMwA succeeded in breaking silences on issues of sex and sexuality. Later on it, AMwA broke new ground by being one of the first organisations to organize CBOs working with sex-workers and LGBTI to capacitate them in various ways. AMwA also created the space for them to document their stories. It made them visible. When what came to be known as the Bahati bill was introduced to parliament, AMwA took a stance by supporting resistance initiatives that grew into a Coalition.

African and Uganda Feminist Forums (AFF and UFF)
Prior to the establishment of ‘The African Feminist Forum’ in 2006, AMwA was part of the first consultations on the establishment of the Forum as well as a member of the working group.

AMwA hosted the AFF successfully and was responsible for organizing and supporting a series of Uganda Feminist Forums that it hosted for three years. Today Uganda is in the process of organizing its 7th Feminist Forum.

AMwA offices as the centre of feminists and women’s rights activists 
For a long time, AMwA’s board room was regarded as a space for all women’s rights activists and feminist. Whoever wanted a working or reflective space used it.

Over the past 27 years, we have honed our competencies in three core programmatic areas. We intend to achieve our objectives through the following ways;

Leadership Building focuses on strengthening African women leadership facilitated by our African Women’s Leadership Institute (AWLI). Our training curriculum is based on a three dimensional framework known as the Personal Mastery Organising Skills and Taking Action (P.O.T) framework.
We boast of a strong network of alumni (AMwAzons) across Africa who form coalitions and movements across Africa that address the causes of the African women. Our alumni also lead women’s organisations as well as other organisations at national regional and global levels

Knowledge Generation & Dissemination is a key tool in our arsenal for without knowledge and information, we are powerless. We are passionate about production of relevant information, past and present on issues affecting African women which we endeavour to document, capture in pictures and videos or any other means grounded in African feminist narrative to inform educate and act on. We strive to disseminate this to partners who are keen and passionate on the same issues for further input and generation of solutions through sharing our findings with them and our stakeholders. This way we carry the African woman’s voice across Africa and indeed all over the world as/since discussing a problem is the first step to solving it and sharing the burden.

Coalition and Movement Building, has at its core lobbying and advocacy to influence positions, polices legislations and programs through partnering with likeminded organisations and individuals to rise to the challenge of addressing issues and defending rights of African women. Our power in numbers within the movements and coalitions is derived from the diversity of competences and strengths. Experience has taught us that we have more to gain from standing together speaking as a united voice, reading from the same script, and pulling or pushing in the same direction.

Akina Mama wa Afrika (AMwA) is a feminist-Pan-African leadership development organization that was founded in 1985 by a group of visionary African women in the United Kingdom but later relocated to Africa with headquarters in Kampala, Uganda. Our work is rooted in feminist principles and beliefs guided by the Charter of Feminist Principles for African Feminists which define our leadership development programme and movement building activities. AMWA provides strategic direction in key Pan-African networks including NGO CSW Africa, Solidarity for African Women’s Rights and the Gender Is My Agenda Campaign. AMwA also has consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council.


We envision a world in which African women are politically, economically and socially autonomous and are champions of change in their lives and society.


To strengthen the individual and collective leadership of African women, forming strategic partnerships, to tackle patriarchy and attain gender equality and women’s empowerment for a just and secure Africa.


Our work is founded on 3 critical pillars

  • Feminist and Transformational Leadership Development
  • Feminist Research and Documentation
  • Policy Influencing and Movement Building

Thematic Areas

  • Women in Power and Decision-Making
  • Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights
  • Women’s Economic Justice
  • Women, Peace and Security

Theory of Change

AMwA believes that if feminist and transformational leadership capabilities are enhanced, feminist research and knowledge is applied, women’s rights networks and strategic partnerships are strengthened for sustained engagement, and African women’s voices are amplified in critical spaces, then a critical mass of feminist leaders will be developed and women’s political, economic and social status will be improved.

The Niche

AMwA’s flagship program is the African Women’s Leadership Institute (AWLI) which was launched in 1997. Renowned for her holistic P.O.T (Personal Mastery, Organizing Skills and Taking Action) training framework. It aims at developing a strong cadre of feminist leaders at personal and collective levels to effectively influence policy and decision-making. The programme targets young African Women aged 18-35 in various spheres.

AMwA’s Contributions

Creating Feminist Transformational Leaders

Since the AWLI was launched in 1997,

  • Over 5000 women have participated in the training at national, sub-regional and regional levels. The alumnae bear testament to the positive impact of the AWLI in their personal and professional lives having deepened their conceptual and theoretical basis of feminism and its relevance to development in Africa.
  • AWLI alumnae have been very instrumental in active lobbying and advocacy for policy and practice changes and have gone on to occupy positions of leadership in their countries.

Policy Influencing and Movement Building at local, regional and global spectrums

In partnership with likeminded women rights organizations and key stakeholders, AMwA has contributed to

  • Strengthening African Women’s Voices at the African Union including the ratification, domestication and effective implementation of the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa.
  • Having influenced the zero tolerance campaign on Sexual and Gender Based Violence in the Great Lakes Region in 2011 and the establishment of eight CSO national structures in member states, AMwA continues to mobilize and monitor the implementation of the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region Pact on Peace, Stability and Development in the Great Lakes Region.
  • Feminist Movement Building through support to the African Feminist Forum at the regional level and at national level in Uganda contributing to the strengthening of feminist voices and aspirations.

Research, documentation and epistemology

  • Documenting African feminist epistemology seeking to change African women’s narratives, by documenting women’s lived experiences through oral herstory and conducting feminist research that has informed our feminist leadership training and advocacy work.

The African Women’s Leadership Institute is supported by a diverse pool of Feminist Training Faculty based on the African continent and abroad. Different faculty members are called upon to support the institute based on the areas of expertise and AWLI theme. Below is a list of some of the training Faculty who have supported the Institute over the years.

No. Name Area of Expertise
1. Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi Feminist Theory And Practice
Resource Mobilization
2. Jerusha Arothe- Vaughan Personal Empowerment, Leadership &Management, Human Resource Development
3. Florence Butegwa Women’s Human Rights at the UN and AU level
4. Maude Mugisha Strategic Thinking And Planning
5. Sarah Ntiro Intergenerational Dialogue
6 Lynn Muthoni Wanyeki Conceptualizing women’s Human Rights

Emerging Political Trends in Africa and their implications for the African Women’s Movement around Peace-building and Reconstruction

7 Patricia Macfaden African Feminism
8 Zeedah Meierhofer-Mangeli Personal empowerment/Sexual Health and well being
Self care
10 Annie Mubanga Strategic thinking and planning /Resource mobilization  and Fundraising
12 Dr. Wanjira Muthoni Conceptualizing Gender/Trainer And Interpreter
13 Amanda Khozi Mukwashi Transformational Leadership
15 Iheoma Obibi Women’s Human Rights And Conflict Management, Documenting Women’s Human Rights Abuses
16 Miria Matembe (Hon) Women in Governance
18 Atsango Chesoni Gender Analytical Framework
19  Sarah Mukasa Feminist Theory And Practice
20 Jessica Nkuuhe Personal Empowerment
21 Jeannette Eno Fundraising and Strategic planning
22 Kaari Betty Muringi Women’s Sexual, Reproductive Health and Rights in Conflict and Post Conflict Africa
23 Alkarib Hala Peace Building
24 Christine Butegwa Human Rights, Communications, Research and Rapporteuring
25 Ndungu Njoki Gender relations
26 Wangari Kinoti Women’s Representation in Structures & Processes of Decision-Making
27 Gemma Mbaya Personal Empowerment
28 Jacinta Muteshi Women, Peace and Security
29 Mary Wandia Violence Against Women and HIV/AIDS


Thoko Matshe

OD Clinic , Influencing policy and decision making


 Irene Ovonji-Odida

Radical Democracy

32 Jacqueline Williams Fundraising, Recourse Mobilisation
33 Ngone Diop Tine Gender, Poverty, PRSPs and Women’s Rights in the International Context
34 Solome Nakaweesi-Kimbugwe -Influencing policy  and decision making

– Sexual health and well being

35 Awino Okech Locating Feminist Theory in Peace Building and Reconstruction
36 Anne Nkutu Strategic Thinking And Planning
37 Sylvia Tamale Sexual And Reproductive Health Rights, Conceptualizing Women’s Human Rights in Eastern Africa
38 Allen S. Asiimwe  Conceptualizing Women’s Human Rights
39 Jeannette R. A. Eno Conflict Management, Strategic Planning And Fundraising Strategies
40 Grace Bantebya Sexual and Reproductive Health Rights
41 Njoki Wainana Gender Analytical Frameworks/Intergenerational Dialogue
42 Elizabeth Manyuru Monitoring and Evaluation
43 Taaka Awori Feminist Theory and Practice
(Including discussion of patriarchy,
Private/public dichotomy, feminism and gender
Personal empowerment
44 Iheoma Ibibi Conceptualizing Women’s Human
Rights with Specific Focus on the Principles of Freedom,
Equality & Solidarity (Highlight interconnections between Civil and Political Rights & ECOSOC Rights)
Transformational Leadership
Influencing Policy
45 Hope Chigudu Transformational Leadership
Organizational Development
Sexual & Reproductive Health & Rights
46  Liepollo Lebohang Feminist Research  & Advocacy
47 Doo Aphane Feminist Leadership
48 Leah Chatta- Chipepa Movement Building
Personal Mastery
49 Prof. Maggie Kigozi Economic Empowerment
50 Prof. Ahikire Josephine Feminist Leadership
Research & Documentation
51 Leonie  Abela Sendegeya Conflict and Peace Building
 52  Eunice Musiime  Feminist Leadership & Personal Mastery
53 Patience Ayebazibwe Personal Mastery
54 Hellena Okiring Movement Building
55 Sarah Ssali Feminist Theory and Practice
56 Ife Piankhi Self Care Trainer and Rapporteur
57 Edith Okiria Feminist Theory
58 Maureen Nakirunda Gender Mainstreaming
59 Soedi White Feminist Research and Movement Building
60 Lina Zedriga Feminist Theory, Human Rights, Peace Building and Movement Building
61 Fiedler Rachel Feminist Theory and Research
62 Diana Kagere Violence Against Women & Media

AMwA’s Offices are based in Kampala, Uganda.

AMwA is governed by an International Executive Board that is, chaired by the President and led by an Executive Director. The Chief Executive Officer of Akina Mama wa Afrika is the Executive Director, to whom all staff, interns and volunteers report to through their respective line managers, who is based at the AMwA Head Office in Uganda.

AMwA has a Management Team that is comprised of 4 Senior Management Team Members and staff at programmes; administration and support levels.