Women Working Together for the Africa We Want: African Women Leaders Network convene for a second forum

Date: Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Group photo

The launch of the African Women Leaders Network on 2 June 2017 at UN Headquarters in New York. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

The African Women Leaders Network (AWLN), an initiative that creates space for African Women to share their leadership experiences and lessons learned, kicked off its Second Women Leaders Forum for Africa’s Transformation in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on 24th to 26th April. The African Union, in partnership with the United Nations and support from Government of the Federal Republic of Germany under the theme: ‘’Women Working Together for the Africa We Want’.

Since its launch in May 2017 in New York, the African Women Leaders Network adopted an action-oriented approach aimed at channeling the experience of African women in leadership as a tool to advance peace and security initiatives on the continent. The AWLN embarked on high level solidarity missions to conflict affected countries in Africa such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and Nigeria in July 2017 and also including the launch of the AWLN “Group of Friends” to the United Nations in New York chaired by Ghana, Germany as vice chair, and the establishment of National Chapters in the DRC and Cote d’Ivoire respectively.

“Today is the moment to reiterate our renewed commitment to this Network and sustained engagement of it, in all national, regional and continental efforts to advance lasting peace, security and development in Africa,” Executive Director of UN Women, Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka expressed delightfully.

The Second Women Leaders Forum brought together African women leaders in politics including former Presidents, Vice Presidents and Prime Ministers, public sector, entrepreneurs, civil society and academia, with the aim of developing a “Plan of Action” to deliver on priority areas such as the launch of the African Women Leaders Fund. H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat, Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC) speaking at the event said, “We are also here to celebrate the progress made and formally establish the Network”. The fund is aimed at achieving inclusive and sustainable peace, security and development in Africa and enhancing women’s leadership in transforming Africa.

During the forum’s deliberations, fundamental strategies were agreed upon to achieve the aspirations and vision of the network. Participants reflected on key issues as well as necessary means of implementation. Furthermore, inputs from key resource persons at the sessions will form part of the processes to enable the AWLN deliver on the key priority areas.

The Second Forum will seek to establish and operationalize the Network of African Women Leaders, develop the 2018-2020 Plan of Action, establish its governance structure and operationalization mechanisms to concretize key decisions and commitments and to act to ensure the role of women in leadership is more visible and sustainable in all sectors of society.

Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka acknowledged H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat the Chairperson of the African Union and guest of honor and the Government of Germany for their continued support and partnership of the AUC in the operationalization of the AWLN. Ms. Phumzile stressed on the potential of the AWLN to ensure that women play their rightful part as drivers of change in a fast-changing world; andalso called for greater numbers of women in parliaments, cabinets, and leadership positions in Africa.

Heforshe AWLN
Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka honoring H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat as a HeForShe Champion Photo: UN Women

H.E. Moussa Faki Mahamat, spoke on the AUC’s ongoing reform, and that gender equality and women empowerment is accorded a priority position in the Continent. Similarly, the January 2018 AU Summit marked the first step towards actualizing this objective, by setting a target of 2025 for achieving gender parity on the continent. A key highlight of the meeting was the honoring of the Chairperson with a “HeForShe” Champion distinction award, presented by the Executive Director of UN Women for his leading role in championing the cause for women empowerment on the continent. While presenting the award on behalf of UN Women, Ms. Phumzile said that, “We align ourselves with the AU in their mission to champion and support gender equality.”

Ms. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, called for greater exchange of the intergenerational dialogue, solidarity and partnership to advance women’s leadership on issues of development and economic growth. She also underlined the need for enhanced support to ensure the sustainability of the network, and noted the role played by the Group of Friends for the “African Women Leaders Network”.

The African Women Leaders Network is working on initiating an African Women Leadership Fund to support women led activities on the continent, in line with the objectives and aspirations of the call to action.