Education International
Education International

African women demand representation and end of violence

published 27 July 2010 updated 27 July 2010

Women activists from across Africa have gathered at a women's conference in Entebbe, Uganda, to demand that African Union (AU) heads of state consider gender equality when choosing representatives at all levels of AU structures.

The female African activists raised concerns that there were very few women representatives within AU structures which made it harder to push gender-related issues.

The regional co-ordinator of Akina Mama wa Africa, Christine Butegwa, said: "Seventy per cent of the people in African Union structures are men despite women being critical partners for development."

She pointed to the fact that in many countries, other than AU structures, few women were being promoted into senior public sector roles like ambassadors.

"We are left at parliament and local government level," she added.

EI’s Africa Region Officer, Anais Dayamba, echoed these views and said: “There is a similar trend of women’s under representation in leadership positions across teacher unions and the administration of education across Africa despite women forming the majority of the education workforces. This is a trend that EI is trying to reverse through our African Women in Education Network which involves 98 teachers unions in 47 countries across Africa. We hope that AU decision makers will support us in this direction.”

The declarations made by the women in this conference will be forwarded to the African Union Summit for consideration.

At the same conference, the President of the Network for Women and Development in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Jeanne Nzuzi, said that increasing incidences of violations in eastern Congo called for urgent attention by the heads of state at the AU Summit.

According to Nzuzi, there are ‘unending wars’ in the Democratic Republic of Congo which force soldiers to rape women who then give birth to fatherless children.

"I am sorry for sounding emotional but this is what happens in my country," Nzuzi said. "All armies, including rebel forces, local defense and UN peace keeping forces engage in violations."

She called on heads of state to use their powers to ensure that peace prevails in the DRC and to end the violations of women in the area.