The role of women in the society has been a pillar in the community. The early misogynic state of women had distorted their image, reputation and played down their importance forgetting they actually are the backbone of the community. The emergence of women empowerment has been a movement to restore their ‘pride’ as it were and see the vital play in the country.
The need for a women’s forum is seen as the ammunition to fight their challenges they encounter. The Women Advancing Africa (WAA) Forum, scheduled to kick off from 9-12 of August in Dar at the Hyatt Kilimanjaro, is to bring some of the best and brightest mind in the continent of Africa to set a common agenda to stir the economical status of women in Africa.
The forum is a new Pan-African flagship initiative launched by the Graça Machel Trust to acknowledge and celebrate the central role women play in shaping Africa’s development agenda and by driving social and economic transformation.
“Africa has experienced tremendous development in the last few decades, however a significant gap in the economic advancement of women remains a huge challenge, Ms. Machel said.
Africa is in a second liberation era – the economic liberation. Women can no longer be secondary or marginal, and through Women Advancing Africa the Trust wants to enable women to take centre stage in the economic advancement of Africa. The Trust is establishing a platform for women to claim their right to sit at the table where the decisions are made and to shape the policies, plans and strategies for our futures and those of the generations to come.”
The Trust is honoured to have H.E. Samia Suluhu Hassan, Vice-President of the United Republic of Tanzania and member of the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Women’s Economic Empowerment join the WAA Forum to share her insights on issues that will be discussed over the four days. The Forum will consist of interactive sessions organised around three core pillars: Financial Inclusion, Market Access and Social Change.
With an estimated attendance of 200 participants from across the continent, the WAA Forum will play host to a diverse mix of women and youth representing thought leaders and influencers from the private sector, philanthropy, academia, civil society, government, development agencies and the media who will bring their voices, experiences and ideas to strategize, set priorities and craft a common agenda to drive Africa’s social and economic transformation.
A number of speakers from key economic sectors such as mining & extractives, agri-business, banking, telecommunications, media, healthcare, goods and services will bring their knowledge and expertise to the Forum. Notable speakers include Leymah Gbowee, the Liberian peace activist and recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize; Vera Songwe, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission; Dr. Monique Nsanzabaganwa, Vice Governor of the National Bank of Rwanda; and Sheila Khama, Practice Manager at World Bank’s Energy and Extractive Industries Global Practice.
A series of side events will also be held alongside the WAA Forum on variety of issues including Food and Nutrition, Education and Child Marriage, Leadership and Wellness, to drive home the importance of social change as an integral part of addressing women holistically.
Gertrude Mongella, former President of the Pan African Parliament will be joined by some of Africa’s leading women giants who have shaped the women’s movement in the past and will bring legacy and the future face to face in a gathering at the side of the Forum.
The WAA Forum will also celebrate the diversity of African culture and creativity in all its forms, from language, to design and fashion, to movie making and dance. This year’s Forum will celebrate African female writers and storytellers who are challenging the status quo, reshaping narratives and developing a deeper understanding and appreciation of the creative industries and their role in driving social progress.
A number of reports will also be launched during the Forum. Together with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), Graça Machel Trust will be launching a study on “The Female Economy in Africa”. The study analyses the participation of the women’s work in Africa focussing on gender gaps in the economy, participating in national politics, financial inclusion and sectoral segregation. The study provides a baseline to track and measure the progress in women’s economic activity and advancement, with regular updates on the Index being shared.
The Graça Machel Trust’s Women in Media Network will also launch a research report on the coverage and portrayal of women in media entitled: “Women in Media – What is the Narrative?” The session will be broadcast as a Facebook Live event with interactive participation in the post launch In Conversation series to stimulate a broader conversation about the narrative of women in media as well as other storytelling formats and platforms. Announcements will be made on the WAA website www.WomenAdvancingAfrica and the WAA Facebook page www.Women Advancing Africa – WAA, closer to the time.
Another highlight of this year’s inaugural WAA Forum will be the launch of a coffee table book entitled “Women Creating Wealth: A Collection of Stories of Female Entrepreneurs from Across Africa”. The anthology celebrates women trailblazers in business with a collection of inspirational stories from Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. The book features a number of enterprising women from the Trust’s women’s networks and a foreword by Ms. Machel.