Women of Africa discuss ways to improve their lives

WHAT was advertised as one of the most anticipated women's conferences, turned out to bea disaster when none of the delegates listed on the invitation attended.

WHAT was advertised as one of the most anticipated women's conferences, turned out to bea disaster when none of the delegates listed on the invitation attended.

The Pan African Women's Conference at the Hilton Hotel in Sandton was expected to attract prominent dignitaries to discuss challenges facing women. Graça Machel, first lady Sizakele Zuma, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Liberian President Ellen Johnson-SirLeaf and former president of the Pan African parliament Gertrude Mungella did not attend.

Organiser Ben Onyekwere said there was no need for the South African government to take part in or endorse the conference.

"It was just a bunch of women getting together to discuss problems," Onyekwere said.

He said the Pan African Women's Project was launched in Nigeria in 2005 and was introduced to South Africa this year.

But it was not all doom and gloom. Women from the 18 countries discussed key issues and came to some resolutions, which included establishing a women's bank to finance initiatives to fight poverty.

Under the theme "African Women Marching Against Poverty" the delegates said that prostitution, human trafficking, forced and early marriages, illiteracy, child labour and slavery and recruiting child soldiers were caused by poverty.

Malawi's Deputy President Joyce Banda urged women to unite against poverty.

"We need to march together as woman. There are many powerful females and with them we need to unite against poverty," Banda said.

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