On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Pan-African Women’s Organization (PAWO), UNESCO has organized with the Permanent Delegations of South Africa and the United Republic of Tanzania a major day of debates and round tables to be held on 15 November, preceded by a number of cultural activities on 14 November.
n the words of the Director-General of UNESCO, Ms Irina Bokova, who will deliver the opening address, “this event goes to the heart of UNESCO’s two global priorities: Africa and gender equality. This gives us an opportunity to consider the formidable potential of women for the sustainable development of Africa”.
Ms Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the Commission of the African Union, is the guest of honour at the event. On 15 November, she will take part in the official opening ceremony, in the presence of Ms Christine Taubira, Minister of Justice of France, Ms Assetou Koite, President of PAWO, Her Excellency Ms Dolana Msimang, Ambassador of the Republic of South Africa to France and Permanent Delegate to UNESCO, Her Excellency Ms Begum Taj, Ambassador of the United Republic of Tanzania to France and Permanent Delegate to UNESCO, His Excellency Professor Olabiyi Babalola Joseph Yaï, Ambassador of Benin, and many other eminent persons involved in promoting the role of women in Africa and the world.
The debates will focus on progress achieved by PAWO as well as goals yet to be attained. The main accomplishments of the African Union, notably the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa and gender equality policies, will be at the centre of the discussions, which will enable the Commission of the African Union to draw public attention to activities due to take place in connection with the Decade for African Women.
This international event is also an opportunity to confirm UNESCO’s leadership in promoting gender equality and human rights, including through policies on the ground. The celebration is associated with UNESCO’s key programme on the General History of Africa, which contributes to education and the promotion of African identity in order to strengthen the continent’s integration.
A special tribute to Dulcie September, as well as to other heroines, will be paid during the celebrations. Dulcie September was a South African anti-apartheid political activist. She fought her whole life for the liberation of South Africa from the apartheid colonial regime and for democracy, rights equality and freedom. She paid the supreme price for her struggle when she was assassinated in Paris in 1988.
The day will be preceded by two cultural events on 14 November – the opening of an exhibition on women’s activism in Africa and a play entitled ‘A Woman in Waiting’ by Thembi Mtshali.
PAWO was founded in 1962 to bring together African women’s organizations in a single platform for sharing good practices and for joint action to promote human rights and gender equality. PAWO has enabled substantial progress to be made concerning women’s rights and recognition of their role in society, working with other international women’s organizations. The celebrations were confirmed by decision of the Member States at the 36th session of UNESCO’s General Conference.