International Women's Day

The African Union (AU) has reiterated the important role of African women in the socio-economic development of the continent.

In a statement to commemorate the 2021 Pan African Women’s Day (PAWD), the continental body pledged to continue to demand dignity and protection for all women and girls in Africa.

The AU noted that it is the collective responsibility of Africans to hold themselves and their leaders accountable to deliver on the gender equality and women’s empowerment commitments.

The PAWD is observed annually across the continent on 31 July and is a day earmarked to recognise and affirm the role of women in achieving the political freedom of Africa and advancing the social and economic status of women on the continent.

Celebrated under the theme, ‘African Women in Arts, Culture and Heritage’, the AU says it recognises the role arts, culture and heritage can play as catalysts for the socio-economic development and integration of the African continent.

‘Africa’s Women’s Day offers a national, continental and global opportunity to recall and affirm the significant role of African women in the evolution of a strong Pan-African identity, with shared values, objectives and vision for the future, as well as women being key contributors towards achieving Africa’s inclusive growth and sustainable development agenda anchored in the AU vision of an integrated prosperous and peaceful Africa’, the statement on the AU website read.

It noted that arts, culture and heritage are catalysts for the socio-economic development and integration of the African continent.

One of the objectives of the Pan-African Women’s Organisation (PAWO), a representative body of women in Africa, is to strive to achieve effective and responsible participation of African women in the socio-economic and cultural development of the continent.

Women have faced extensive challenges in Africa, and Covid-19 simply amplified these challenges.

Covid-19 and its accompanying lockdown measures continue to seriously affect African women and girls not only economically but also through the resurgence of violence against women and girls (VAWG).

The African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF) is a grantmaking foundation that supports local, national and regional women’s organisations working towards the empowerment of African women and the promotion and realisation of their rights.

It focuses on supporting non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that create and share new, feminist narratives about African women through literature, sports, music, crafts, film, photography and visual art.

‘At the AWDF, we believe that we can and must leverage the transformational power of the arts if we are to achieve and to accelerate real social change’, a statement on the AWDF website read.

‘We use the power of the arts and culture to increase public support for women’s rights, to document women’s lives and contributions and create new, dynamic and more accurate narratives about African women; to raise the profiles of our amazing African women artists and to mobilise new constituencies – especially of confident, passionate young women activists’.

Source: African Union

Photo source: Michael Fleshman

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