By Chanda Buumba Katongo, YWCA of Zambia
Below Chanda Buumba Katongo shares her thoughts and experience during the African Union (AU) Summit. The 20th Assembly of Heads of State and Government of the AU took place from 21 to 28 January 2013 at the headquarters of the African Union in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The World YWCA participated with a delegation of 35 young women.
They say…a woman should not cross over from teary eyes to regain strength.
She must stay in poverty, illiteracy, ill health and violence. She must be quiet, even after rape, betrayal, and abuse. So that she must be called ABUSED! She must stay victimised and disrespected. She must remain waiting for words of appreciation and affirmation that never come. Waiting for equal pay, equal say and equal opportunities that never become a reality.
Yet we say: She must walk, she must run, she must fight and go that extra mile.
We say she must be a part of Pan- Africanism. She must be part of African Rennaisance. She must shape African development and global development. She must deconstruct the patriarchal system and break down the barriers. Challenge the aggression and free herself from oppression, poverty, ill health, violence, conflict and discrimination.
As young ambassadors of women and girls in Africa, we here at the AU Summit have committed to working in solidarity in creating the future we want for Africa. We have committed to stopping oppression of women, girls, children and youth and ending poverty, ill health, violence, and discrimination.
It has been a very exciting experience to be part of the Africa High level intergenerational leadership dialogue on the Post 2015 development process at the AU Summit. It has been amazing and empowering to meet African champions, women leaders and advocates like Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, AU Commission Chairperson, Dr Mary Robinson Former Prime Minister of Ireland, African ambassadors, Ministers from different African countries and other.
As young women leaders, we have interacted with African heads of state and practiced advocacy. We have shared our priorities and visions with these leaders, and eloquently represented our dreams and aspirations in hope that they can push our agenda forward as we walk in solidarity with them towards Pan Africanism and African Renaissance.
Its been energising to meet and dialogue with representatives of the United Nations, African Union, Gender is my Agenda Campaign (GIMAC), representatives of key civil society, and other key social change organisations and individuals.
The various presentations and words of encouragement at the Young women’s leadership summit and during the GIMAC sessions have been a major source of inspiration and encouragement. Our mentors have been true to their cause and have mentored us in so many different ways through guided and unguided learning. It is my sincere hope that this process of mentorship and intergenerational leadership can continue.
I have obtained renewed energy after networking with other young women leaders from the African region. Not only have I made new friends and found new sisters, but I have also obtained regional and international perspectives, ideas, recommendations and solutions on issues affecting young women and girls in Africa.
It has also really been exciting for me to have worked with other young women leaders from Africa, from diverse economic and social backgrounds, religous affiliations, sexual orientations, and professions in drafting a communique targeting the African Union, Governments, United Nations, Civil Society, private sector and other development players. Our statement which communicates our collective vision and priorities for Africa not only present the afore mentioned stakeholders with our vision for the Africa we want, but also provides influence towards the post 2015 development agenda and provides us as youth advocates with concrete a framework through which we can advance for a progressive rights based agenda both within the remaining spaces of post 2015 review processes.
The Young Women’s Leadership convening and other dialogues held before the A.U Summit has provided me with another opportunity to be a global leader as a young advocate. With renewed energy, vision, passion and ambitions, I salute the Young Women’s Christian Association and all the other YWCA partners that convened young women in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to explore their role in Pan Africanism and African Renaissance. Having appreciated the opportunity to have had my voice as a young African woman heard, I say to you all…Sister Sister, Aluta Continua!
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