MONROVIA, Montserrado – The third strategic steering meeting of the African Women’s Leadership Network has ended in Monrovia, with six agreed upon strategic action points for implementation.
The ALWN platform seeks to enhance the leadership role of African women in the continent’s transformation, in line with the African Union’s Agenda 2063 and the United Nation’s 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. The initiative also receives financial support from the Federal Republic of Germany.
The meeting was sponsored by the African Union and U.N. Women Liberia. It brought together women leaders from across the continent, including the A.U. special envoy for women, peace, and security, Bineta Diop; U.N. Women Liberia’s country representative, Marie Goreth Nizigama; the head of the A.U. liaison office in Liberia, Ibrahim Kamara; and the deputy minister for administration at the Ministry of Gender, Parleh Harris. Former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was the chief patron.
Reading a communique containing outcomes of the meeting, the chair of Tanzania’s Youth Parliamentarian Forum and member of the AWL Network’ steering committee, Upendo Furaha Peneza, said the objective of the meeting was to consolidate the outcomes of the second AWLN Forum and define a roadmap for the network.
The recommendations adopted were aimed at creating an impactful and sustainable eco-system for women across all themes. Participants at the forum called for increased participation of women in governance and for support to women candidates in political elections.
The recommendations also emphasized peace and security, with a call on the Joint A.U.-U.N. Solidarity Missions to promote peace, security, and development and for the implementation of the U.N. Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace, and security. The women leaders also called for action to be taken to implement the African Women Leadership Fund for women entrepreneurs and the investments in micro-enterprises cooperatives and associations led by women.
Peneza identified youth development as a key area of interest for the network and proposed to strengthen the network’s inter-generational dialogue, capacity building of young women, and organizing of annual youth retreat. She said the network also called for empowerment for women in agriculture, addressing climate change, and sustainable agriculture by promoting value-chain, land access, and new technologies that would benefit women.
According to her, delegates at the two-day meeting on April 1 and 2 also proposed to increase social mobilization on women’s issues by building on existing social mobilization platforms and engagement with social movements such the #He4She campaign, religious and traditional leaders, media engagements, educational tools, and new technologies.
“AWLN steering committee members extend their deep appreciation to the people and government of Liberia for their warm welcome and hospitality and to former president and AWLN patron H.E. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for her guidance support and facilitation of this successful meeting,” she said.
Since last year, the network counts among its membership over 300 women leaders from various sectors, ranging from political, public and private sectors, grassroots organizations, civil society, and youth groups. Five countries have launched their national chapters, while 11 more aim to launch this year.
For her part, Sirleaf praised members of the steering committee for selecting Liberia as the host for the third strategic meeting and challenged them to return to their respective countries and put the vision into reality.
“For the Liberian chapter, you are particularly challenged, because you have to move beyond the stress and fear, you have to move beyond disunity and see how you can pull all the women together around this common goal,” she said.
She encouraged the network to focus on ECOWAS’ call for the free movement of people and business, or the continental free trade agreement.
“Because, unless people can move from place to place unless we have common external policies that foster trade, we are not going to be able to promote the private sector that we know is an important catalyst for the generational job.”
Featured photo by Mafanta Kromah