Did you know that 2010-2020 has been designated as the African Women’s Decade? I have AWD on my mind because I am in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, facilitating a Solidarity for African Women’s Rights (SOAWR) Coalition meeting that starts today. It’s shocking though, that as a self identified African feminist, the first I ever heard of AWD was through a blog written my one of my favorite Afropolitan sisters in the twitterverse @MsAfropolitan on the 1st year anniversary of AWD last year.
What does this decade mean to us as African women? Who is really talking about this decade? How have you engaged with AWD in your community, country or region? How can we make this decade our own and ensure that the numerous voices of African women, in all their diversity, are heard in spaces like the African Union, where our government leaders converge every single year, spending gastronomical amounts of tax-payer’s money to discuss issues that affect us. The 18th AU Summit starts on January 23d, in Addis, and the theme for this year is “Boosting Intra-African Trade”. Are women traders central to these discussions, or will a boost in Intra-African trade only benefit a select few? With all the #Occupy movements sprouting around the world, including the current #OccupyNigeria movement, I sincerely hope our leaders are waking up to the reality that the people of Africa will not rest until there is real change that is felt by ordinary people like you and me. For inspiration, I have just read my fellow African sistah souljah Sokari (@blacklooks) article “Ken Saro-Wiwa on How It Was, How it Remains & How it Could Be.”
So back to the AU Summit. One of the items on the agenda for discussion is the Special Emergency Assistance Fund for Drought and Famine in Africa (SEAF). As much as I understand the importance of having an emergency fund, I wonder if this is really where our leaders need to be focusing their energy, when there is absolutely no reason why anyone should experience famine anywhere in Africa to begin with! How about dealing with the actual problem, rather than creating band-aid solutions that will probably lead to the development of yet another mis-managed fund that will cost even more to operate than will actually benefit the people it is intended to. Am I being a pessimist here?
Anyway, I made a promise to myself that I would do yoga this morning before the SOAWR meeting started so I better sign off before I get carried away. But before I go, I just have to say that when I read this on the AU summit website, it just reminded me that true change will really come from the 99% – you and me – and probably not the leaders we elect to represent our interests:
“One of the high moments of the AU Summit will be the inauguration of the New African Union Conference Center on 28 January 2012 in the presence of all the Heads of State and Government present for the Summit.”
Are they for real? High moment?