The President of
the Pan-African Women's Organisation (PAWO), Assetou Koite, says Africa must
recognise and honour the contribution of women to the decolonisation of the
continent and take action to advance gender equality.
¡§Our continent historically has been blessed with numerous female
revolutionaries. Moreover, what is evident is that PAWO has become a
transnational feminist movement. This movement has been instrumental in
forging international consensus on a rights-based approach to women's
rights,¡¨ Koite said on Tuesday, 31 July 2018.
She was speaking at the 2018 Pan-African Women¡¦s Day held at
the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO) in
The event was hosted by DIRCO in collaboration with PAWO under
the theme ¡§Celebrating a Legacy of Liberation by the Pan-African Women:
Taking forward the Struggle for Gender Equality¡¨.
The celebration marked the 56th anniversary of the formation
of PAWO and was an opportunity to highlight its achievements. It focused on
revitalising PAWO, as well as building a progressive women¡¦s movement in
The celebration coincided with the 100th year commemoration of
the formation of the Bantu Women¡¦s League and came on the eve of South
Africa entering Women's Month in August.
comes from within
Koite said continental and subregional influences seemed to
have a bigger impact on driving the agenda for changing the status of women.
¡§They are perhaps more important than global transnational
influences as a vehicle for changing the status of women. Today, most of the
impetus for change comes from within Africa and from regional-level
¡§This may explain why there is greater openness to these
changing norms at present, even as resistance to advancing women's rights
continues. Africa has, for example, emerged as a global leader in promoting
women's leadership in politics,¡¨ Koite said.
She stressed the importance for a formation like PAWO to unite
and organise women who were skilled, educated and gifted with leadership and
organisational skills, to ensure that gender equality truly manifested
itself in society.
¡§We must ask ourselves what it means to move the baton from
Queen Nzinga, Jean Martin Cisse, Maria Ruth Neto, Winnie Madikizela Mandela,
Gertrude Mongella, Wangari Mathaii,
Albertina Sisulu and many others to the next generation.
¡§How do we recalibrate the women¡¦s movement so that it can
continue to champion issues which relate to the plight of women? What does
it mean to reimagine a society [that can] achieve real gender equality?¡¨
Mainstreaming gender politics
PAWO Secretary-General and Communications Deputy Minister, Pinky Kekana,
called on women organisations to support government in its programmes aimed
at addressing gender issues.
¡§We now have to make the gender agenda an agenda for everybody,¡¨ Deputy
Minister Kekana said, adding that sufficient resources must be put behind
The Deputy Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, Stella
Ndabeni-Abrahams, expressed her appreciation to the women who took part in
the struggle for emancipation, saying this paved the way for today¡¦s
generation, who were now beneficiaries of the struggle.