Benin: Grace Antonia D'Almeida

Her fight against forced marriages was a project that covered several areas and especially towns of north and south Benin and the lake-bordered towns.

— Grace Antonia D'Almeida

A lawyer, Grace Antonia D’Almeida (1951–2005) was divorced and the mother of three children. She enjoyed her work and excelled at everything she did. She, indeed, was a great fighter in the women’s movement in Africa and world-wide. She passed away in early 2005.

Grace Antonia D’Almeida founded the Association of Women lawyers of Benin (AFJB) and presided over it since 1990. The association aims to defend women’s rights nationally, regionally and internationally. The AFJB was quick to take on the task of making important appeals for women’s rights both in Benin and in countries south of the Sahara. Grace initiated the opening of the Legal Aid Center in Benin and in the sub-region and the extension of these centers by the creation of the network of centers and legal clinics. Madame Grace Antonia D’Almeida was aware that the fight to obtain legal status for woman was difficult because of the reluctance of a large section of the male population. The AFJB ensured that the training of paralegals was a true initiative in Benin. The main preoccupation of Madame D’Almeida extended therefore to women’s rights in general and to democracy. Her association works with the participation of members and donors. Madame D’Almeida fought for the creation of the association between 1988 and 1989. Nevertheless, the Marxist-Leninist government of that era adamantly refused and asked Madame D’Almeida to return in the organization of revolutionary women. This did not appeal to her so, in the spirit of a democratic revival, she created her association in 1990. The Association of Women Lawyers of Benin was one of the first associations to begin asking questions about the legal status of Benin women, contained in the customary law of Dahomey of 19 March, 1931, which gave women no rights. This battle only ended in 2004 when the code on the family and people was adopted by the National Assembly.

Association des Femmes Juristes du Bénin (AFJB) Network of the Women Ministers and Parliamentarians