“Africa rising” – Beijing +20

By Alice Bwanausi, YWCA of Malawi.

It has been an amazing experience to be in Addis, once again! Barely a month since I was here for the CSO’s consultative meeting on Beijing+20, in October. The weather has been kinder this time around unlike the chilly weather in the middle of October that had me sleeping in my formal dress jacket, due to the light clothing I had packed, thinking Addis would be as hot as Blantyre back home!

Residing at the Elilly international hotel, a stone’s throw away from UNECA meant we didn’t have to deal with the Addis traffic jams each morning as we walked to the conference centre, which was a hive of activity throughout the week of hosting the 9thregional Beijing +20 review meeting. group 1

YWCA young women where in the lime light throughout the consultative meetings as they took centre stage in contributing to the draft CSO’s document on recommendations to the Beijing platform for Action process, that would be presented to the intergovernmental meeting for ministers. The young ladies spiced up the serious meetings with interjections of song- famously the ‘moto moto we mama wee’ which had all the participants on their feet and provided a well deserved ice breaker!

The UN Women launch of “Africa rising” was an awesome occasion that saw some of us rubbing shoulders with the gender minister of my country, Malawi. She gave a resounding closing speech for donors such as UN Women stating that they need to continue providing resources for women programmes and for CSO’s to engage with governments. This also provided a very opportune time for me to invite her to an event that will be hosted by YWCA Malawi later this month (which we had been trying to get her to attend and the good news is that she will be coming : ) We did a victory dance inside!) Later on an Ethiopian band spiced up the colorful evening which had all of us stepping to the beat with our young women displaying their dancing skills, much to everyone’s pleasure! dance

Addis, a city under reconstruction, has an interesting array of buildings, ranging from grand at one moment, traditional at another and dusty at another. The construction of the railway line which will cut across town needs the skills of a crafty driver to get through the maze of constant traffic jams! Never the less all this is over taken by the vibrant mix of color that is Addis, its beautiful people, the colorful display of their traditional wear and rich Ethiopian dishes. I have not worked up the courage to try their staple dish ‘injera’, it’s an acquired taste but it’s part of every menu at every eating place.

As I return back home I am energized by the powerful messages of our great mentors like mama Mongela, the woman who took women to Beijing twenty years ago and is still championing the women’s fight for equality and advancement. ‘ don’t knock men down, just speed past them, overtake, smile and wave at them’, as you continue with the fight, after all they are made of more fragile substance (clay) than the bone of the rib, that we are made of!

Amasaganalo!

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