Boksburg – On Monday over 1 000 women from across the African continent converged for the second annual African Women in Dialogue conference at the Birchwood Hotel in Boksburg.
Organisers said the week-long event, hosted by the Zanele Mbeki Development Trust, is expected to broaden and inspire the vision of African women under a common development agenda. The conference, supported by United Nations Women; aims at ensuring that women are involved in solving African problems.
Mojanku Gumbi of the Zanele Mbeki Development Trust said the second edition of the African Women in Dialogue focuses on how women can be agents of change in achieving peace, security and alleviating poverty in Africa.
“Some of our countries still face deadly conflicts, which take the lives of innocent people, and results in displacement of civilian populations, mostly women and children. Especially noteworthy is that these conflicts are started by men. This underscores the need to ask difficult but necessary questions about the formulation and practical implementation of policies for peace, governance framework that promotes peace, economic development and greater social justice with Africa’s resources at the centre of the achievement of these goals,” Gumbi said.
United Nations Women executive director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said they seek to ensure gender parity. “We call on civil society to work together with government but to lead a process. I emphasise that we must galvanise a faster pace towards gender equality,” she said.
Kenyan women activist, a survivor of sexual abuse and parliamentary candidate, Editar Ochieng founded an organisation that helps other survivors of sexual and physical abuse in Kibera, the country’s largest informal settlement in Nairobi.
“As a sexual and gender based violence survivor it has been long. At the age of six, I was defiled, at the age of 16, I faced gang rape, and at some point my life was shattered. I realised that it had been happening to other women; but they kept silent; but I could not remain silent. I believe the only way is to share our stories and talk to each other, find a solution and fight gender based violence,” Ochieng said.
The week-long conference is expected to broaden and inspire the vision of African women under a common development agenda.