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Unisa hosts the launch of the South African Chapter of the African Women Leaders Network

South Africa became the 26th African country to launch a chapter of the African Women Leaders Network (AWLN) at a meeting with at least 130 leaders at Unisa. AWLN is a ground-breaking movement of African women leaders, which was launched at the UN headquarters in New York from 31 May to 2 June 2017. The AWLN was launched under the auspices of the African Union Commission (AUC) and the United Nations (UN) through the Office of the AU Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security and UN Women and the Federal Republic of Germany. It has set out to create a continent-wide force of women leaders who contribute to Africa's transformation in line with the Global Sustainable Development Agenda 2030 and the Africa Agenda 2063.

History unfolding at Unisa

Prof Meahabo Magano, Unisa Women’s Forum Chairperson, welcomed the delegates to Unisa and conveyed Prof Puleng LenkaBula’s support to the South African Chapter launch of the AWLN in her absence. "On behalf of Prof LenkaBula, Unisa management and the council, it is an honour to witness history unfold – the launch of the South African Chapter of the African Women Leaders Network at this mega and globally renowned institution," she said. In her welcome, Magano expressed the importance of women coming together to work for a common purpose by relating a Sesotho adage which argues that if lions do not gather to form a pride, they can be outrun by a limping buffalo. Consistent with the message of the adage, Magano said that if women do not work together towards a common purpose, they will be defeated by even the smallest challenges. "It is important therefore to unreservedly lend our firm support to this wonderful network of women leaders," she said.

Magano further added that it is unfortunate that Africa continues to suffer from a barrage of onslaught, most of which are orchestrated against women and girls. "It is for this reason that any effort that seeks to consolidate to remedy the suffering of women and children should be supported," said Magano. Asserting further that this is not the time to relent but to maximise efforts to combat all maladies that bedevil Africa, Magano said: "Like a pride of lions on attack, we should be able to subdue a lot of challenges that unfortunately characterise our continent."

Speaking loudly

Dr Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka

Dr Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, former Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations and Executive Director of UN Women, provided the keynote address. "When we launched AWLN, we wanted to be connected as women of Africa; we also wanted to celebrate the progress we have made despite the challenges we continue to face. We wanted to make sure that our voices count because the more we are, the louder we can speak," said Ngcuka.

Ngcuka explained that the network has six key pillars: governance and political participation, peace and security, finance and women's entrepreneurship, youth leadership, agriculture, and social mobilisation. AWLN seeks to enhance the leadership of women in the transformation of Africa with a focus on governance, peace and stability. Since its establishment, the network has comprised over 500 African women across generations and sectors. It is implemented with the support of the Office of the AU Special Envoy on Women, Peace and Security, and of the UN Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), with the support of the Federal Republic of Germany, through their representations in New York and Addis Ababa.

An estimated number of 130 delegates attended the launch of the SA Chapter. A cross-section of South African participants was drawn from the Ministry of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, the Department of International Relations and Cooperation, in collaboration with the UN Women South Africa Country Office, the South African Women in Dialogue and Unisa Women’s Forum. Delegates included women leaders in academia, civil society, business, labour federations, politics, rural development formations, youth and persons with disabilities, including those led by trans, intersex and binary people, and representatives from the rural-urban divide with a feminist transformative agenda.

Through its national chapters, the AWLN is mobilising women towards a continental movement that will elevate the status of women's leadership in Africa.

To watch the event: African Women Leader Network South Africa Chapter Launch

* By Tshimangadzo Mphaphuli, Senior Journalist, Department of Institutional Advancement

Publish date: 2021-11-24 00:00:00.0