The Association of African Women for Research and Development (AAWORD) was created in December 1977 in Dakar by a group of African women researchers who, aware of the low level of the presence of women in research, and convinced that research is a crucial factor for the success of any development programme, have decided to undertake any activity relating to research, advocacy and training with a view to improving the status of women and transforming gender relations in African societies.
In December 1976 already, a group of African women held a consultative meeting in Lusaka (Zambia) to share views on research priorities from an African perspective and define the goals and mission of the future Association.
The meeting was an opportunity for the group to identify a number of objectives to be reached by the said organisation. These included to:
- Organise women involved in research and community-based activities,
- Identify research priorities and assess the methodological tools,
- Build the existing research capacities and promote participatory research in Africa,
- Encourage innovative research approaches from an African perspective, and
- Lay the foundations of a continental network of women researchers.
It was therefore on the occasion of the Lusaka meeting that the African women decided to hold a follow-up workshop in Dakar and to work towards establishing the Association.
The Dakar workshop held in December 1977 and sponsored by CODESRIA and the African Institute for Economic Development and Planning, mobilised nearly 50 African women from all African countries and about 20 observers among which UNESCO, ILO, the Economic Commission for Africa and Swedish agencies. The theme of the meeting: “African Women and Development: Decolonisation of Research” already set the tone of the missions assigned to the future Organisation. The aim of the newly created Association was to:
- Rid the research on Africa of its Western prejudices so as to enable Africans to claim their own agenda and define their research priorities and methodological tools,
- Rid research from male prejudices and give it a gender perspective, and
- Overcome the geopolitical divisions imposed by colonisation and language barriers.
However, it is the first General Assembly of AAWORD held in December 1977 that established the official formation of the Organization. This meeting was the occasion to adopt the statute and agenda of the Association and elect the Bureau and the Editorial Board.
Since then, several General Assemblies have been organised, in particular in December 1983 and August 1988 (Dakar), April 1995 (Pretoria), December 1999, December 2003 and December 2009 (Dakar). The meetings have enabled AAWORD to improve its texts, its organisation and to further confirm its grounding in the spirit that prevailed at its formation.