In celebration of South African Women’s Month 2020, University of Pretoria’s research institute and pan-African platform Future Africa held an online event titled ‘2020 Future Africa Virtual Women’s Day Dialogue.’ The event brought together a panel of leading women from different parts of Africa, including the EJS Center’s Director of Leadership Programs Rumbidzai Chisenga, to discuss the topic women’s role in the transformation of Africa.
The panel was moderated by Ms Nozi Tshabalala and alongside Rumbidzai were also multi-award winning physician from the Republic of Benin Dr Joannie M. Bewa, University of Western Cape Chemistry Professor Leslie Petrik, and University of Zambia Deputy Vice-Chancellor Dr Tamala T. Kambikambi. With rich backgrounds in academia, governance, and political participation, the panelists covered a range of subjects, from successes achieved by women across sectors to the challenges that still need to be overcome.
When asked about the importance of focusing on women’s leadership to achieve economic development and inclusive growth, Rumbidzai emphasized how women, who account for over half of the African continent’s population, are central to driving change.
“We need to be thinking about harnessing half of our society and getting them to share their ability to innovate, their ability to reimagine the society, their ability to mobilize and gather resources, and their ability to be custodians of a new society…When we talk about women seeking their place in society, it really is about wanting to contribute to shaping the society that we all inhabit and to also get an opportunity to express their talents, the gifts, the richness that comes with half of the population of our continent.”
While acknowledging that the fight for gender equality must be waged by both men and women leaders, Rumbidzai stresses how important it is for women to stand up for their rights.
“We can’t sit back as women and wait for men to do this for us, men must also hear us that we are not ignoring all the efforts that are being made, we are not ignoring the progress and the changes, but we need more. We actually need to dismantle a system here, this is not small work, so let’s not pat ourselves on the back for doing the things that we are supposed to do anyway.”
The event included remarks from Director of Future Africa Prof. Cheikh Mbow, University of Pretoria’s Vice-Chancellor and Principal Prof. Tawana Kupe. It also featured a keynote address from UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women Dr Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, who talked about the progress that has been made towards gender equality and the work yet to be done:
“This year we also mark 25 years since the most comprehensive agreement of nations about gender equality in Beijing. That work has not been completed, and that is why we have Generation Equality to take this work forward between 2020 and 2025.”
To watch the full webinar, click here.