For nearly two decades, SIHA has been actively engaged in the production of African feminist knowledge – through research, documentation of human rights violations and the stories of marginalized women, production of films and radio shows, and critical, gender-informed political analysis. The creation and strategic dissemination of this knowledge is the foundation of SIHA’s advocacy work with state and non-state actors. SIHA builds high-quality pieces using a variety of mediums which speak to the lived experience of women and girls in this region. Our work draws on qualitative, evidence-based, and feminist participatory action methodologies to ensure that the women whose stories we reflect are at the center of our research and advocacy work, not only as recipients but as drivers of learning, development, and change. SIHA recognizes the importance of cultivating creativity, an openness to new approaches and methods, and an ability to unlearn and learn anew continually.
Documenting the harsh realities faced by women in the Greater Horn of Africa, as well as the remarkable actions of women human rights defenders in response, has proven invaluable over the years. In the oppressive regimes present in so many countries across the Greater Horn region, having the courage and savvy to be a whistle-blower remains critical – especially in countries like Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan and South Sudan where SIHA is one of very few with this capacity. SIHA is well experienced in walking the line between security and critical advocacy – preserving its space to manoeuvre alongside uncompromising messages on women’s human rights. SIHA increases the impact of its advocacy through utilization of strategic entry-points and collaboration with local government officials. Where advocacy potentially compromises SIHA’s ability to operate in highly scrutinized countries, SIHA collaborates with international human rights advocates and organizations that are less at-risk.
SIHA places much emphasis on dissemination of advocacy outputs. Research and advocacy messaging is disseminated in multiple formats, strategically targeting key audiences. SIHA leverages social media for advocacy and campaigns, where possible and without compromising security or operational space. SIHA also produces visual testimony alongside reports and articles, such as short documentary films and stories, striving to be flexible, to shift between forms and formats based on the context. SIHA’s annually-published Women in Islam journal provides a space for Muslims and non-Muslims from all walks of life to discuss the social, political and cultural challenges associated with the intersection of Islam and gender. In countries where it is safe to do so, SIHA works with local media to draw press attention regarding the health, happiness, safety, and rights of women and girls. SIHA engages with regional and international mechanisms as key platforms for advocacy. SIHA maximizes its observer status at the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) to raise key women’s human rights issues pertinent in the Greater Horn of Africa.