Senegal: AU Commission chief urges women to be transformers, not just conformers

Dakar, Senegal (PANA) – The African Union (AU) Commission Chairperson, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma Tuesday urged African women to be ''transformers and not just conformers''.

According to a statement made available to PANA in Dakar, Senegal, Dr Dlamini Zuma was speaking in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, at the official opening of the 8th AU Gender Pre-Summit on 2016 African Year of Human Rights with Particular Focus on the Rights of Women.

She reiterated that 2016 marked an important milestone in the continent's as well as the global women’s development agenda.

''We should be the change we want to see...Women should be change agents ... to transform, not to conform.”

Dr Zuma challenged all African women to strongly reflect on ''these three valuable words'' and encouraged them to devise strategic mechanisms aimed at reinforcing and broadening the participation of women in all important positions at national, regional and international levels.

She underscored the need to strengthen the Pan-African Women Organization (PAWO) at the grassroots in order to drive the vision of integration on the continent.

The Chairperson regretted that despite all the efforts done so far by AU to stop conflicts and wars in Africa, various parts of the continent continued to be affected by conflict and insecurity, with women being disproportionately impacted.

She called on all members states to work towards ensuring that the continent meets the target of silencing the guns by 2020.  

Zuma further recalled that the AU had developed a list of legislative and policy instruments to help in advancing the agenda of women in peace and security at various levels, yet the protection of women in times of conflict and peace process notwithstanding was still poor.

''It is time for a radical transformative campaign for change and implementation of all the legal frameworks already in place to enhance women’s empowerment particularly under Agenda 2063,'' she emphasized.

The Gender Pre-Summit  meeting has brought together over 400 delegates from across the continent and abroad with women leaders in all the socioeconomic and political sectors gathered to exchange views on the theme '2016 African Year of Human Rights with Particular Focus on the rights of Women'.

The objective of the meeting is to bring together the voices of key actors dealing with gender equality and women’s empowerment, to update and discuss critical developments related to the empowerment and rights of women, so as to influence and shape discussions and decisions of the policymakers during the forthcoming 26th AU Summit.

For her part, Ms. Bineta Diop, AU special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security, remarked that the time was ripe for women to catalyze their efforts, reinvigorate their commitments and raise once more their voices, loud and clear to say that Africa needed action.

''Africa must walk the talk so as to break the cycle of violence on women and deprivation that ultimately continues to hold Africa in poverty and instability.  

''This year 2016 offers us another opportunity to put on the table the quest, I should say, the demand by African women for their rights to be recognized as human rights, to be upheld and to resolutely take the path of implementation, a path to transformation.

''And indeed Africa has defined the road to that transformation through our Agenda 2063, an agenda for today and tomorrow, as solid future can only be achieved through wise investment today,'' she stated.

Ms Diop stressed that women of Africa, must seize the opportunity ''as we all know that Africa will not achieve its agenda without the women and youth of this continent.''

Meanwhile, Mr. Lebohang Motlana, Director of the UNDP Regional Service Centre for Africa, said the gender summit set the pace and platform for discussing critical gender issues which also resonate with the UN ideals on human rights.

Referring to the support given by the UN to the AU in observing democratic elections in various African countries, he said it was with democracy that certain virtues such as respect of women’s rights arose.  

Motlana also underscored the urgent need for policies to foster equal education, equal employment and wage opportunities to empower women in today’s societies, stressing: ''Women’s rights are human rights and human rights are women’s rights and this is non-negotiable.''

-0- PANA MLJ/AR 19Jan2016

19 january 2016 19:24:41

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