A flag-raising ceremony to mark the 52nd anniversary of the African Union (AU) was held in Accra Monday, with a call on African leaders to do more to empower women to achieve the union’s agenda 2063 adopted in January 2014.
At the heart of Agenda 2063 is the recognition that development in Africa needs to be people driven, with emphasis on the potential of women and young people.
The ceremony was on the theme: “Year of women empowerment and development towards Agenda 2063”.
Speaking at the ceremony, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Ms Hanna Tetteh, said Agenda 2063 hinged on seven key aspirations, including creating a prosperous Africa based on inclusive growth and sustainable development, a politically integrated continent united and based on the ideals of pan-Africanism and Africa’s renaissance.
Other key aspirations are an Africa of good governance, democracy and respect for the rule of law, a peaceful and united Africa, an Africa with a strong cultural identity, a common heritage, shared values and ethics.
Ms Tetteh said there was still a lot more to be done in supporting women in African countries, as the expectation to eliminate harmful cultural practices and all forms of discrimination against women was yet to be achieved.
“It is not enough to just declare a year that focuses on the needs of women but is important for us to drill down that theme and ensure that we begin to work together at the continental level and within our countries,” she said.
She said although Ghana’s Ministry of Women, Gender and Social Protection had done a lot in dealing with women’s issues and social inclusion, there was more to be done.
She said the situation was the same in other parts of Africa, amid the challenges women faced during the outbreak of Ebola in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone and the xenophobic attacks in South Africa.
Ms Tetteh said the achievement of those aspirations would not be the responsibility of only the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration or just an annual ceremony but would require the involvement of civil society and other stakeholders in society.
In a statement read on his behalf by Ms Pavelyn Tendai Musaka, the Zimbabwean Ambassador to Ghana and Dean of the Diplomatic Corps in Ghana, President Robert Gabriel Mugabe, the Chair of the AU, said the union had taken a great leap in gender equality out of the realisation that women were the cornerstones of stability and social progress in every society.
He said many women, however, remained unsung heroes, though they had left indelible marks in the history of mankind.
“Informing this transformation is the realisation that women are a formidable asset in achieving sustainable economic development. It is for this reason that African leaders chose this theme in order to acknowledge the central role of women in implementing Agenda 2063,” President Mugabe said.
He said Africa was still under siege by neo-colonialism and the negative effects of globalisation, saying that called for bold determinism and guarding against betraying the ideals of the AU.
The birth of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) 50 years ago in Addis Ababa resulted from the aspiration towards an ideal of unity advocated by the fathers of independence.
From May 22 to 25,1963, 30 African countries took part in the conference in the Ethiopian capital which set up the OAU, which marked the arrival of the first pan-African organisation.
A charter defined its objectives, principles and institutions.
The AU has been at the forefront of the fight against colonial injustice, through which Dr Kwame Nkrumah, Ghana’s first President and one of its pioneering leaders, said Ghana’s independence was meaningless unless it was linked up with the total liberation of the entire continent.
Thirty-nine years after its formation, the OAU was changed to the AU to accelerate and deepen the process of economic and political integration on the continent.
The AU was officially launched at the Durban summit in 2002 after the OAU decided to set up a new organisation to replace it.
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