Africa Women's Political Leadership

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Africa Women's Political Leadership

This group is open to all women who wish to discuss women's political participation in sub-Saharan Africa. The Club of Madrid African Women Leaders Project brought together women from Nigeria, Uganda and Sierra Leone in a conference in Brussels in October 2008. During the conference, women leaders discussed the following topics: - The need for networking, caucusing and coalition building - leadership skills - affirmative action - engaging women in peace and security systems - implementing international legal frameworks - transforming attitudes toward women in politics in the media Some of the strategies and solutions proposed by the participants included: establishing a support network for women to provide advice, confidence building and security; educating women and girls; building coalitions and making use of international networks; establishing women's trust funds and enhancing women's economic independence; building on international legal frameworks and establishing quotas. Participants agreed that there is much progress in the sub-Saharan Africa region on women's political participation. Out of 21 countries in the world that have achieved more than 30% women in national legislatures, six of those are in Africa. And Rwanda continues to lead the world in the number of women elected. This discussion circle is intended to continue the dialogue initiated at the conference, but is open to all who are interested in empowering women in Africa in decision-making.

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anitavandenbeld's picture

How can women build coalitions and networks to help one another? Women too often see one another as competitors for limited political “space”, when in fact by working together there is a multiplier effect that benefits all women. Women can help one another with confidence-building, peer support and an enhanced sense of security and safety. But this requires someone to take a leadership role and to establish a neutral rallying point. I would like to hear how women in Africa have crossed ethnic, religious, class and party barriers to find a common purpose?

Rumbidzai's picture

It is essential that women politicians receive the support of other women including across political party lines if they are to be motivated to carry on. There is unfortunately no easy remedy for this but a combination of different strategies can help. An illustrative example is the creation of formal and informal networks for women politicians such as the Southern African Development Community(SADC) Regional Women's Parliamentary Caucus(RWPC). Established by the SADC Parliamentray Forum the RWPC brings together women in National Parliaments of the SADC region who are organised in National Women's Parliamentary Caucuses(NWPC). The NWPC have helped in facilitating collabration on matters of mutual interest to women across political party lines as well as providing a mechanism for women to strategise amongst themselves before taking their views into the main stream of politics which is a "male stream". For instance NWPC in Angola, Namibia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Zimbabwe have organised and dealt with a range of highly contested bills such as on violence, sexual offences, equality in marriage and inheritance. If such networks can be nurtured beyond parliamentary work, these can also serve as strategic conduits for preventing the high turnover among women in leadership. I submit that the reason why collaborative initiatives for women are not sustainable because our weaknesses and differences tend to be magnified rather than our strengths. In recognition of the fact that women are not a homogenous group, that does not take away the reality that there are issues that are a lived reality to women across class, race, political affiliation etc, for example discrimination and consequently exclusion from decision making and leadership. Rumbidzai A Kandawasvika-Nhundu, Senior Programme Officer(Democrcay and Gender) International IDEA, Stromsborg, SE-10334, Stockholm, Sweden.

Sahro's picture

Hallo all,

Somalia and Somalis have suffered a lot. In the past 25 years, there has been a lot of death and destruction and there is still a lot of death and destruction ongoing. A lot of preparations are underway for more violence and war all over Somalia as I write this. Yet there is no talk of peace and peaceful means of resolving conflict. Why is peace building not a priority for a people who have been traumatized by conflict for over 25 years? Why are nonviolent means of resolving conflicts not taught in schools, why is it not a subject of the curriculum in all schools in Somalia?

I have been thinking really hard about these questions and about how I, as an individual, can contribute with my own input in creating the change I seek on fundamental matters such as peace in Somalia. As a response to this identified need and as an effort to bring about that much needed change, I have developed the together the ‘Peace is in our hands’ project. Using the media we will host to begin with a 2-weekly TV talk show whose main aim it will to create awareness about the dire need for an alternative means to the current escalating warfare in Somalia. I have decided to speak to the public and I intend to speak to them through the to-be televised talk shows which will focus on how we can best find answers to these questions.

Secondly, I want to be the change I seek. I want to run for Ministry of Peace and Conflict Transformation in Somalia. We don’t have one right now and have never had one in the past and Why don't we have a Minister for Peace and Non-violent Resolution of Conflicts in Somalia? It would seem logical to have one or even 2 after 20+ years of war and violent conflict! We need to go to schools, community centers and preach peace, compassion, dialogue and love. Peace therefore is in our own hands. We only have one female minister in Puntland right now.

I am seeking assistance with these 2 ideas. I don’t have a budget for them and I seek all kinds of assistance- material and immaterial. I seek advice and support in best practices. I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Thank you so much!

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Kind regards
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Sahro Ahmed Koshin
Garowe, Puntland State of Somalia 
Skype: sahroahmed