African First Ladies advocate for gender equality and empowerment
The Ordinary General Assembly for the Organization of African First Ladies for Development (OAFLAD) has unanimously agreed to support proven high-impact and cost-effective interventions when advocating gender equality and empowerment. This happened at the 24 OAFLAD meet which was held in Addis Ababa on 10 February 2020.
The meeting held on the sidelines of the 33rd African Union (AU) Summit and was organized under the theme ‘Gender Equality and Women Empowerment: A Pathway to the Africa We Want’ aims to address the issues and identify the enablers which will promote the inclusion of women in delivering Africa’s Agenda 2063 by breaking new development frontiers.
H.E. Madam Aïssata Issoufou Mahamadou, First Lady of the Republic of Niger said, “We are aware and convinced of one thing, it is the certainty that the irreversible development of Africa cannot be achieved without the African Woman.” She asserted that “The Africa We Want as envisioned in Agenda 2063 cannot be achieved with outdated practices which need to eradicated such as early and forced marriage of young girls; female genital mutilation; gender-based violence; discrimination in access to administrative and political decision-making positions; lack of universal access to sexual and reproductive health and rights; and unequal opportunities in access to quality education and training. She affirmed that OAFLAD will be firmly involved to bring about the intended change.
H.E Fatima Maada Bio First Lady of the Republic of Sierra Leone was in attendance and she discussed education and child marriage in the country. She also served as the chairperson for the program were she stated that for Africa to be developed it had to focus on improving education and end child marriage which is keeping girls out of school.
“There are also other issues keeping these girls out of school which relates to the lack of access to sanitary wares,” H.E Fatima Maada Bio First Lady of the Republic of Sierra Leone.
In their session, the OAFLAD members committed to supporting high-impact interventions on advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment; promote girls’ education and gender equality; promote women’s economic empowerment and financial inclusion; advocate for comprehensive legal frameworks to address gender-based violence against women and support innovative campaigns and continuous dialogues to transform social and cultural norms that hinder women’s rights.
In 2002, First Ladies of Africa came together to form the Organization of African First Ladies Against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA), with the objective to be a united voice for Africa’s most susceptible citizens; women and children living with and affected by HIV and AIDS. Over the years, OAFLA has evolved to become an institution that is able to offer a continent-wide leadership in terms of advocacy in the areas of HIV and a broad range of maternal and child health interventions.
OAFLA currently named as the Organization of African First Ladies for Development (OAFLAD) is an advocacy organization where First Ladies of Africa seek to leverage their unique position to advocate for policies that make health services accessible and laws that boost women and youth empowerment. First Ladies of Africa reinforce favorable policies and programs through advocacy, resource mobilization and development of partnerships with all stakeholders at all levels. First Ladies engage in various community-level activities to sensitize the community and create awareness on health risks and policies.