Evolving African National Women’s Organization: Advancing Step by Step

During the weekend of Sep. 30 – Oct. 1, 2023, the International Executive Committee of the African National Women’s Organization (ANWO) met in person to strategize and assess our organization’s ability to respond to infrastructure needs and to African women in general. We determined that ANWO has an amazing opportunity to expand our reach and become the voice of international African working-class women, more so than we have been in the past.

Firstly, it’s important to note that ANWO is not a 501(c)(3) non-profit, which means the work we do or don’t do doesn’t fall into the requirements of the U.S. federal government. This allows ANWO to respond to any situation we see fit without fear of losing our status. For instance, our ArrestCPS work would violate 501(c)(3) rules because we lobby lawmakers and suggest policies that will help forward the work: an act in violation of 501(c)(3). However, not being a 501(c)(3) has limitations when it comes to funding and other means of getting resources for some of our bigger projects. We are grassroots for the people.

People want tax deductions for their generous donations. We get it. But we also appreciate the many people who sustain ANWO through their membership dues and individual donations. This, at least, helps us support organizers and our organization, giving us the ability to carry out public campaigns, support travel, and convene meetings. As a “community organization,” we pride ourselves on using all of the money that we earn to the benefit of our constituents.

Our big plans in 2024 are:

  1. Establish our headquarters by starting work on it and building a funding campaign.
  2. Double our branches in the U.S., Africa, Europe, the Caribbean, and South America.
  3. Increase our membership by 50%.
  4. Fill outstanding leadership roles.
  5. Increase De-Colonaise sales and Economic Development streams of income.
  6. Create a strong international voice for African women by speaking to the issues that impact African women globally.

We believe that even if we can’t be in those places, we can respond to the issues that grab the attention of the women contending with those issues. We are on track to accomplish all of these goals. The train may be a little slow in some areas, but there is a conductor driving it forward.

Membership and campaigns are the cornerstone of ANWO. The main avenue for ANWO to increase branches and membership is through our campaign work. Our main campaign is ArrestCPS which, up until October, focused on direct advocacy. We worked with African poor and working-class families to decrease their interaction with the state. This involved providing support during meetings, attending hearings with them, guiding them on the next steps, helping with legal support, in some cases writing motions and submitting them to courts, organizing direct actions, and direct support in terms of sitting with and caring for children when parents needed a break.

While we found this work to be meaningful, it also exhausted our natural human capacity. However, we couldn’t stop. After attending a conference on the issue the following month, we felt we could pivot the campaign by focusing on doing public education through on-the-ground direct action initiatives and spreading the truth about the family regulation system. We are building out our phases now, completing Phase I, and moving into more direct action. Through our efforts, we believe we can grab the attention of more African people to this campaign, transitioning our contacts to members.

Headquarters and Market for 2024

Economically, ANWO faces a few challenges that we are training to overcome. The first is learning how to carry out an effective fundraising campaign that will help us rehabilitate our property at 4617 Natural Bridge Road in St. Louis, MO. Although nothing major has happened at the property yet, we have been in talks with contractors and are getting estimates for the work. We have incredible examples of fundraising through the Black Power Blueprint. All we have to do is implement strategies to make this property an incredible resource to African people in St. Louis and beyond. In addition to planned crowdfunding, we expect to raise a portion of the money at our ANWO convention in late March and to use funds made from taking leadership over the St. Louis One Africa! One Nation! Marketplace to contribute to our efforts.

Charting new waters, providing leadership

One of the biggest shifts in ANWO’s work in the last period was organizing consistent information and education projects. Last year we developed two monthly live internet shows, The Breakdown and African Women Must Lead, which has increased viewership with every broadcast. The shows provide political education, news, analysis, guests, and centering anti-colonial resistance. In addition to the live broadcasts, we are in training with Black Power 96 radio to have our program broadcast to the local St. Petersburg, FL community. We also brought back the Harriet’s Daughters Book Club and Study group, led by Secretary Koko Lewis. This is an incredible opportunity for comrades to dig deep into political documents, study world events, and discuss works of historical fiction. The study group has been a great way to meet new African women and potential members.

ANWO has already begun outreach to the African international community. Staying atop developments in the African world, and when advantageous to the goals of forwarding the African revolution, responding through direct action or with a political statement. Comrades participated in mobilizations at the end of 2023 and responded to emerging issues of African women at home (in Africa) and abroad. One of the things we are fighting to overturn is our sluggish responses to political situations and with more practice, we will win it.

Address colonial violence

Lastly, we look forward to building out ANWO’s War Council, led by comrade Rage. We are forwarding our Political Education and Self-Defense training, having completed several in St. Louis and Washington D.C. Our goal here is to respond to the clear and present threats to African women’s safety by educating our folks and providing skills to defend ourselves. So while the train is slow sometimes, we are getting to where we want to be. ANWO is the home of African women who want to arm themselves against the colonial mode of production. We call on all African women to join the winning team.

Join: ANWOuhuru.org
Forward Ever!
Backward Never!
We are Winning!

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