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The meaning of the F-word: Supporting Africa

Tina Wallace, International Gender Studies Centre, Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford University

We live in an era of targets, where development agendas are increasingly set far from Africa. It is far removed from the reality of women's lives across different cultures on the continent.

The noise of simplistic messages carried, for example, in Nike's "Girl Effect" campaign, is overriding the voices of African women, bypassing their knowledge. While aid money for girls rises, the money sorely needed by women's organisations in diverse cultural and political contexts is rarely forthcoming. African women's organisations have a long history, many strong leaders and a local understanding essential for promoting lasting change. They require respectful funding that is negotiated, tailored and long-term. It took the UK generations to change the position of women and we should support women across to Africa to take this journey in their own way and their own time.

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This article first appeared in the 12 March 2012 issue of the New Statesman, The weaker sex