AUC Chairperson Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma emphasises the importance to celebrate the determination of women around the world for equal rights and have their voices heard

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, 08 March 2016: The African Union (AU) joins the international community to celebrate the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women, while also reviewing past progress of women’s development and looking ahead at future opportunities for women, especially in the African continent.

The celebration of the International Women’s Day today Tuesday 8th of March 2016, at the AU headquarters featured a series of activities including an African Debate on the motion: “Electoral Laws should facilitate Gender Parity”.

Holding under the theme “Agenda 2063: A Pledge for Gender Equality” the event at the African Union took place in the presence of H.R Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the AU Commission, H.E Ahmat Awad Sakine, Chair of the Permanent Representatives Committee (PRC) AND Ambassador of the Republic of Chad, the AUC Deputy Chairperson, Mr. Erastus Mwencha, the AU Commissioners, Members of the PRC, and invited guests among others.

Dr. Dlamini Zuma began by thanking the participants for the mass mobilization around the issues discussed during this celebration regarding women’s development in the continent and the world at large. “I would like to thank you all for joining us and especially for standing as witnesses to all the pledges that have been made by the African Union Commission’s Departments and other stakeholders committing to implementing at least two high impact actions that support gender equality and women’s empowerment in furtherance of Agenda 2063……I can assure you that these are not empty pledges, as the AUC will develop a performance management plan that will track and report on progress, capture lessons learned and best practices as well as outcomes that will inform future decision-making on the implementation of gender equality and women’s empowerment in the AU” Underscored the AUC Chairperson.

H.E. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma highlighted the importance of the role of women within the continent saying, women like men have equal rights and “these rights are entitlements not a privilege”. She underscored the need for laws, noting that Africa has to move a step further to embedding champions that will convince law makers that laws are important and should be implemented. “If women are not active in political parties, gender parity will never be achieved and therefore women and progressive men must be active in political parties” said the AUC Chairperson. Dr. Dlamini Zuma further stressed on the need for African women to work hand-in-hand with progressive men and make the men understand that establishing gender parity is not a favor but it is a right which must be given.
Ambassador Ahmat Awad in his remarks supported the course and pledged to working together with stakeholders and partners to bring a stop to violence and all forms of discrimination which affects women and children in the continent. In addition, the Chairperson of the PRC appealed to the AUC Chairperson to have an active participation of the AU Heads of State in mainstreaming gender development in political parties and decision making organs at national, regional and continental levels. “Women should be policy-makers; they should be part of the legislative and constitution of their respective communities, what a man can do a woman can also do.” said the Chair of the PRC.

Speaking earlier Mrs. Mahawa Kaba Wheeler, Director of Women Gender Development of the AUC recalled that IWD celebrations creates an opportunity for women and men to come together, network and organize themselves for social transformation, anchored on values and principles that ensure enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms for all. The commemoration of this day, she said, accords nations the opportunity to marshal efforts to strengthen women’s rights and their participation in social, economic and political development.

In order to improve the involvement and participation of women at all sphere of life, the Women, Gender and Development Directorate (WGDD) of the African Union Commission (AUC) organized a Zumba dance fitness activity geared towards the promotion of wellness as an ingredient to achieving the goals of Agenda 2063. The Zumba dance brought together all AU staff, Friends and well wishers on the 7th March 2016 an energetic momentum to kick-start the International Women’s Day (IWD) .

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