In 2010, the African Union launched a decade-long initiative to promote women's empowerment and put female rights at the heart of development in the billion-strong continent.
Dubbed African Women's Decade (AWD 2010-2020), the ambitious scheme aims to create the conditions for the active participation of women in the socio-economic development of the continent.
Now, more than two years after the Nairobi launch, African Voices caught up with three diaspora-based, prominent African activists to discuss the current state of women's rights in the continent.
CNN spoke to Rainatou Sow, Marie-Claire Faray and CNN Hero Betty Makoni -- an edited version of the interviews follows.
Rainatou Sow is the founder and executive director of "Make Every Woman Count," an organization that monitors female rights in every African country. The Guinean activist was named "Inspirational Woman of 2012" by the UK group "Women 4 Africa."
CNN: "Make Every Woman Count" publishes an annual report detailing the treatment of women in each country to remind people that African women are watching.
Rainatou Sow: Yes, that's the message. Basically, when they launched African Women's Decade it was in Nairobi -- you had people from all over coming, delegates, African governments, it was a big feast. But then after a few months you hardly heard about it -- because of the credit crunch basically we didn't hear about financing going into women's projects there and it was really calm.
So we thought what can we do? Are we going to sit down and let this decade pass away, or are we going to do something, mainly us as the younger generation.
I see this as an opportunity to really push the agenda of women's rights in Africa because most of the time African voices are lost in the field. So every year we do the overview annual report where we do all the 54 countries. We evaluate all of them, regarding what they have been doing this year on women's rights, in education, reproductive health.
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CNN: Why do you think African voices aren't being heard?
RS: I think that's really missing. Whatever we do, we should make sure that we invite those women to come to tell their own stories because that is how you could best help her. Not you talking for her.
By using the power of social media, of the internet, really reaching women around Africa and in the diaspora here and that is what we are really trying to do -- to really give African women the voices they deserve that we haven't seen so far.
CNN: Do you think it's hard to get donors to move beyond the mindset of the emergency aid to more sustainable approaches?
RS: Yes, that is what we are trying to do. A lot of women are really raising their voices about that because there is no sustainability and that's the big problem. After so many years of aid we haven't seen an impact on the ground. So for me it is about time to maybe sit back and look at what we have done wrong and how we can improve things to try and ask the local communities and then go ask people, "so what have you already done here?"
Marie-Claire Faray is an activist from the Democratic Republic of Congo who campaigns to end violence against women, especially in her home country. As a member of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, she is advocating for change and pushing for action during the AWD 2010-2010.
CNN: What are you hoping to achieve with the AWD?
Marie-Claire Faray: We really hope to bring a lot of women on board to first of all commit to changing at the individual level, local level, national level and international level. We hope to bring women from all backgrounds -- not only the lawyers, the politicians, but also the grassroots women, particularly them, to come and hold their government to account.
CNN: Because in many African countries the legal framework is there, what's been missing is the accountability.
MCF: Definitely, not only the accountability but the action plan to set changes. This decade is actually just a time frame for us to evaluate every year during this decade what achievement has been done and what challenges lie ahead of us.
But ultimately, in 2020, we want to look back and say "we have at least achieved this in this country" -- for example "in the Democratic Republic of Congo, we have achieved more women in parliament, the end of violence against women, the end of sexual violence."
We want to look at places like Mali, where there is conflict right now, and see what women have achieved to end this conflict.
CNN: Does it feel like no one is listening to African women as to what their priorities are? That people are coming from the outside and deciding for them?