Pan Africanism: ECA chief pays tribute to foremothers of Pan Africanism
UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) – Ongoing celebrations of 50 years of Pan Africanism will be incomplete without paying glowing tribute to the role played by our ‘foremothers’ and ‘foresisters’ in the liberation struggle, according to UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) Executive Secretary Carlos Lopes.
Speaking here at an inter-generational dialogue organised on the margins of the ongoing series of events marking the 50th anniversary of the African Union (AU), Lopes stressed the need for a candid dialogue about what the pioneers of African feminism and the gender agenda are bequeathing to young women today, so as to be able to take the vision forward in the next 50 years.
The meeting was organised by ‘Gender is My Agenda Campaign’ (GIMAC), which is a network of more than 55 organisations working in different sectors, coordinated by Femmes Africa Solidarité (FAS).
Since 2005, the GIMAC has met on the margins of the AU Heads of State Summit, and its areas of focus include the protection of women’s rights and the monitoring of the implementation of the Solemn Declaration on Gender Equality in Africa (SDGEA)
Lopes informed the meeting that the Pan African Women’s Organisation (PAWO), established in 1962 – one year before the OAU – was an important part of the unification process as it brought African women freedom fighters of together on the need for peace and unity. They also contributed to the debate that shaped the OAU.
“The pioneers of this organisation, such as Ms. Jeanne Martin Cisse of Guinea, as well as great African women such as Mrs. Gertrude Mongella of Tanzania, Ms. Maria Ruth Neto of Angola and others, who contributed to the struggle not only for Africa’s liberation, continue to advocate for the total empowerment of the African women. These women will be honored in the ongoing celebrations,” he said.
The ECA chief highlighted the achievements made in fostering women’s participation in decision making, saying Rwanda exceeded 50 percent of parliamentarians; Seychelles, Senegal and South Africa exceeded 40%, while Mozambique, Tanzania, Burundi and Algeria exceed 30 percent.
“We see an increase in the number of women in ministerial portfolios, the latest case being the new government in Kenya,” he added.
On women’s economic empowerment, many women remain in the informal sector and in most instances the lower margins of the informal sector, securing livelihoods and struggling for protection, Lopes said, noting that where women have gone into business, studies have shown that they do extremely well.
He cited Ethiopia’s first women’s commercial bank (ENAT) created in 2012 with a view to empower Ethiopian women in business.
The bank is intended to provide financial services to women – with the widest possible reach.
According to Lopes, similar institutions are in place in Tanzania and in DR Congo.
“These efforts aim to reduce the credit crunch and to foster women’s entrepreneurship,” said the Executive Secretary.