Farewell to Liberian prez
As votes were being counted yesterday across Liberia to determine the next president and legislators, South Africa’s speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Mbete, pictured, commended Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on her successful presidency.
“We owe thanks to our mother, sister and leader for the calm and determined way in which she helped stabilise the country and made Liberians feel at home in their own country,” Mbete told the 10th Annual Conference on Women’s Rights during the fifth session of the Pan African Parliament (PAP), at the Gallagher Conference Centre, in Midrand.
“Bringing real and lasting solutions is in the hands of the PAP. We can’t rest until there is peace and security on the African continent,” said Mbete.
She expressed gratitude that organisers were addressing the painful issue of female genital mutilation (FGM), describing it as degrading and a form of discrimination and violence.
The conference was officially opened by Haidara Aichata Cisse, the chairperson of the PAP’s women’s caucus, who said women would respond to the mismanagement inflicted on Africa by unfair decisions such as the travel sanctions placed by the US administration on Chad and the proposed sanctions on the Democratic Republic of Congo. “Africa shall no longer accept veiled colonisation.”
Her comments on the discrimination African women faced were equally strong. “Africa’s priorities must focus on women and youth for the continent to develop. How can the continent’s full potential be reached if over half its population is excluded from full equality?” asked Cisse. “As wives and mothers we must also fight the practice of FGM, which is unacceptable in the 21st century.
Justine Coulson, the UN Population Fund’s regional director for Eastern and Southern Africa, said gender empowerment was essential. “Countries won’t reap the benefit of gender dividend if discrimination against women is not eliminated.” – ANA