I am glad to welcome you all to the International Conference on African Women Development, Dubai 2012. It is indeed a gathering of African women champions. Our theme for this year has been aptly chosen as “The role of Women as catalysis for Africa’s development in the Emerging Decade”.
Africa remains in many ways one of the world’s most challenging regions for achieving development.
In this emerging decade, an historic opportunity presents itself to end the scourge of underdevelopment that afflicts Africa. The resources, including capital, technology and human skills, that are required to launch a global war on poverty and underdevelopment exist in abundance and are within our reach. What is required to mobilize these resources and to use them properly is bold and imaginative leadership that is genuinely committed to a sustained human development effort and the eradication of poverty, as well as a new global partnership based on shared responsibility and mutual interest.
Woman, in many ways have proven to be that required catalyst for a genuine economic development, which Africa needs in the emerging decade.
In the 21st century, while men are credited with performing three quarters of all economic activities in developing countries, women actually perform 53 percent of the work, according to the United Nations. The 1995 UN Human Development Report, states that “an estimated $16trillion in global output is currently ‘invisible,’ of which $11 trillion is estimated to be produced by women.”
Furthermore, the increase in female employment in the rich world has been the main driving force of growth in the past couple of decades. Those women have contributed more to global GDP growth than have either new technology or the new giants, China and India. More women in government could also boost economic growth; studies show that women are more likely to spend money on improving health, education, infrastructure and poverty and less likely to waste it on tanks and bombs.
Who is more likely in a better position to stop the raging storm of poverty, bad governance and corruption in our societies but the one who conceives life, bears it, and nurtures it to greatness – THE WOMAN.
In Hillary Clinton’s Women’s Rights Are Human Rights Famous Speech, she said: “Whether it is while playing with our children in the park, or washing clothes in a river, or taking a break at the office water cooler, we come together, as women and talk about our aspirations and concerns. And time and again, our talk turn to our children, families and the society.
However different we may be, “there is far more that unites us than divides us”.
Whether in fields and in factories, there is far more that unites us than divides us.
In village markets and supermarkets, there is far more that unites us than divides us.
In living rooms and board rooms, there is far more that unites us than divides us.
A Cape Verdian, A Kenyan, A Ghanian, A Zimbabwean, A Nigerian, A South African, there is far more that unites us than divides us.
We share a common future. And we are here to find common ground to do not just the right thing, but the smart thing, which is, empowering women to further build up that innate leadership quality embedded in every woman. Also, most especially, we are here to develop concrete strategies on how we, as women leaders can unite and redefine ourselves as we make a bold bid to better the lot of womanhood in particular and society in general.
Women must rise up to the challenge of nation building.
I see it as our destiny to help the male folk and put our continent back on to the track to a new dawn. We have strong examples of women who are already shaping society and we must continue to support them and give them our all as we make the women the key to Africa’s growth in the emerging decade. YES WE CAN. Let this conference be our call to action.
To all of you, thank you from being here, welcome, and enjoy the conference.
WOMEN OF AFRICA, YES WE CAN!