2003 Africa Prize Laureate
Sara Longwe of Zambia is a grassroots mobilizer, critic and author of the "Longwe Framework for Gender Analysis." She has pioneered the use of international human rights laws in the fight for women's rights in domestic courts.
She faced her first battle, as a young secondary school teacher, when the government refused to give her maternity leave, despite Zambia's ratification of an ILO labour convention that required the school to provide 90 days of maternity leave. This led to her becoming a prime mover in a lobbying group that successfully pressed the government to introduce, in 1974, a provision for maternity leave in the teaching service.
In 1984, she was a founding member of the Zambia Association for Research and Development, which was instrumental in pushing the government to ratify CEDAW: the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.
In 1992, she won a landmark battle against the Lusaka Intercontinental Hotel, which had refused to admit her because she was not accompanied by a man. Zambia's ratification of CEDAW was part of the basis of the high court's ruling.
Ms. Longwe served six years as chair of FEMNET, the African Women's Development and Communications Network. Established in 1988, FEMNET aims to strengthen the role and contribution of NGOs focusing on women's development, equality and rights, and to provide an infrastructure for information and empowerment. FEMNET runs programs in advocacy, training and communications, and the Network of Men Against Gender-Based Violence. FEMNET was the main organizer of the African regional preparatory meeting for the UN's Beijing conference on women in 1995.