African time spoils AU’s chance to shine
Afive-hour delay in processing accreditation. That is what marred the start of the second African Union (AU) high-level panel on gender equality and women empowerment in Johannesburg this week. And it seems no one knew what was happening. That, among other things, was my personal experience.
We had to wait for close to five hours before we received accreditation to attend the meeting. Local organisers blamed the AU for a lack of information on participants. After tiresomely going back and forth, participants were finally accredited.
Those with accreditation went to the venue, the Sandton Convention Centre, and those without were transported to get theirs. The meeting’s participants included AU ministers of gender and women’s affairs, academia, scholars, researchers, business, media, youth, women in agribusiness and development partners.
The opening ceremony was delayed for several hours because the interpreters were not present, so the meeting could not proceed. After midday, the situation was fixed and the meeting finally got going. This resulted in the agenda being changed to reflect the new norm. Did this disappointment indicate a lack of organisation? There were two panels of presenters. The two sessions were very interactive, with participants given opportunities to ask questions.
I guess participants reacted to the disappointment of the first day and failed to arrive on time for the meeting.
A meeting that was supposed to have started at 9am did not start until hours later. Again, there were four panels. The highlight from the second panel was great, with presentations by three young people – all female heroes. Each of the three presentations offered a welcome addition to proceedings. They included:
A Masai woman who started with one cow and now has 10. She is divorced and, despite her challenges, is flourishing.
Two young women from South Africa, each experiencing issues with land problems – but both were still working hard to achieve their goals.
Aside from the challenges at the start, the participation at the summit was excellent. However, our challenge as participants is to get governments from the 54-member states to follow up with the recommendations taken, primarily for interministerial groups to meet and implement the recommendations. This is a daunting challenge. So for me it was just another talk shop.
Williams attended the second African Union high-level panel on gender equality and female empowerment as part of the African Union summit,
which will end in Sandton tomorrow