South Africa to lead powerful Pawo

Eric Naki

South Africa will lead the powerful Pan African Women's Organisation and host its headquarters for the next five years.

The ninth congress of Pawo elected South Africa to the position, taking over from Senegal. Assetou Koite' of Senegal was elected president of the organisation.

The five vice-presidents will come from Angola, Cote d'Ivoire, Cameroon, Mauritania and Rwanda.

Delegates from 33 of the 53-member countries, met at the Birchwood Hotel in Ekurhuleni from Thursday until Sunday,

Among their resolutions was that Pawo must strive to achieve effective and responsible women's participation in the political, socio-economic and cultural development of Africa.

They will pursue the right of African women in society, economy, politics and in uniting African people, eliminating all forms of women abuse and exploitation and ensure realisation of gender equality and women emancipation.

The Pawo will support African Union processes to establish a United Africa, jointly work with the AU to address obstacles inhibiting women's economic development, and work hand in hand with governments, private sector and civil society to build capacity for Pawo members and bodies and encourage the use of information technology.

The organisation will continue to lobby for the total eradication of illiteracy among African women and ensure access to education by the girl child. It will monitor and evaluate credit and funding mechanisms for women and ensure implementation of the AU's health strategy.

With some of the delegates coming from countries affected by political conflict, the congress condemned all forms of conflict and violence that harm the integrity of women and children on the continent.

Pawo would be a torch-bearer for peace and justice on the continent and government, international bodies and NGOs were urged to prioritise support for women and children in their intervention programmes in conflict areas.

The organisation will strive to promote dialogue among women in countries experiencing armed conflict and a call was made on the AU to enforce decisions taken on peace and security. The women will support all attempts to seek ways to resolve conflicts in Western Sahara and recognition of its sovereignty.

"We the delegates, together with founder members and veterans of Pawo, to this congress declare to the world that we will pursue a society free of all forms of discrimination against women and march for a better and brighter place in Africa."