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Out of Africa

African women's groups are increasing throughout the continent. In Zaire, the women's group Femmes Somba Mo Manya began a public awareness campaign earlier this year about female genital mutilation. The group has organized educational events in rural areas, in order to support women who refuse to undergo the mutilation. Such women are usually ostracized by their communities.

In the Cape area in South Africa, a black women's group called The Women's College is interviewing women about their everyday lives for an oral history project. The 40-member group is trying to reach as broad a spectrum of women as possible, in order to perserve the history of women in the freedom struggle. Women's groups throughout South Africa are meeting November 24-25 for a National Convention on Violence Against Women in Cape Town. Contact: NICRO Women's Support Centre, 4 Bultensingel, Cape Town 8001, S. Africa.

In Mauritius, the women's group Muvman Liberasyon Fam (MLF--Women's Freedom Movement) has been tackling traditional Muslim and Hindu laws and attitudes that discriminate against women for almost 20 years. The group has organized actions against polygamy, marriage of underage girls, and anti-abortion legislation. In April 1994 MLF organized a large public demonstration demanding government rent subsidies for women with low incomes. MLF also organizes self defense classes, study groups and forums about violence against women. MLF includes rural women, artists, teachers and factory workers. They are now fundraising in order to build a documentation and action center. "You in the West often know better the situation in Africa than we do," Rajni Lallah, a founder of MLF, said during a recent visit to the Netherlands. The documentation would help MLF gather and distribute information about the situation in Africa throughout Mauritius and Africa.

Lallah said that the International Monetary Fund (IMF) is holding Mauritius up as a model of economic development. This is despite the low wages, long hours and poor working conditions that women especially labor under. The IMF ´endorsement' means that major development agencies are refusing to support women's projects in Mauritius. Mama Cash, a small women's funding agency in the Netherlands, is trying to help MLF raise the approximately US $30,000 need to build the center. Donations can be sent to Mama Cash, Postbus 15.686, NL-1001 ND Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Fax +31 20 6834647. European giro postbank number 6037738, bankrek. MeesPierson 21.30.00.555.

Association Pour Le Progrès et la Défense des Droits des Femmes Maliennes (APDF) est une association nationale qui regroups les femmes de toutes les couches soci-professionnelles et économiques de notre pays. Ceéée après les événements historiques survenus au Mali en mars 1991, elle se veut démocratique, indépendante et apolitique. A ce titre, l'APDF se démarque de tout parti politique en vue d'être l'émanation ds aspirations de ses membres qui sont autant en zones rurales qu'urbaines; travailleuses salariées ou indépendantes, elles se retrouvent dans tous les secteurs économiques du pays: agriculture, èlevage, pêche, commerce, tâches domestiques. Par rapport a cette couche très variée de militantes, l'APDF s'est fixée des buts et des objectifs par rapport aux conditions sociales, économiques, politiques et culturelles des femmes dans la nouvelle ère de démocratie au Mali. APDF, Boite postale 1740, Bamako, République Mali, Afrique de l'Ouest.