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President Sirleaf gets Pan Africanism, African Renaissance AU Award

From EM Site
President Ellen Sirleaf-Johnson
President Ellen Sirleaf-Johnson

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – President Sirleaf has received the 2013 Year of Pan Africanism and African Renaissance African Union Award for her Pan African service.

“On the 50th Anniversary of Africa’s quest for strength in common purpose, we celebrate distinguished women leaders who have contributed to the African Renaissance, Pan African service and committed to peace and development,” the organizers declared.

The Pan African Women Organization (PAWO) was established in 1962, a year before the founding of the Organization of African Unity, now AU.

Speaking at the occasion, the Liberian leader thanked PAWO for the honor and urged women of the continent to unite for more leadership roles. She acknowledged that it was a difficult task to be a first female President on the continent, the first post-conflict woman President and a Nobel Laureate President, adding that one must think once, twice and thrice before seeking to fit in the listed categories.

Also honored at the ceremony were: the Chairperson of the African Union Commission, H.E. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma; the United Nations Secretary-General Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa, Asha Rose Migiro; United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Adviser on Post-2015 DevelopmentPlanning, Amina Mohammed; and of the Establishment Coordinator of the Angie Brooks International Centre for Women Empowerment, Leadership Development and International Peace and Security, Cllr. Yvette Chesson-Wureh.

The program was graced by a group of chosen patrons, including the Executive Secretary of the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, Dr. Carlos Lopes; the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General to the African Union, Mr. Zachary Muburi-Muita; the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Mr. Eugene Owusu; and the Chairperson of the UN Liaison Team with the African Union, Jeanine Cooper.

The Organization of African First Ladies against HIV/AIDS (OAFLA) launched its Membership Directory 2013-2014.

The group believes African women in government, private corporations, civil society and intergovernmental institutions are the new partnership for action.

African women, according to the organization, are managing solutions to protect their households, their communities, countries, regions, and are focused on safety and security, assets protection, income generation and improving the quality of life.

President Sirleaf held separate bilateral meetings with the Presidents of South Africa, Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire, with the discussions centered on fostering and strengthening the existing ties of friendship and cooperation among them.

She said an African position that considers many of the issues that concern the continent’s youth will form part of the draft report of the High-Level Panel on the Post-2015 Development Agenda.

She pointed out that job creation, youth unemployment, economic transformation, lack of infrastructure and other social services as critical priorities to be addressed as the Millennium Development Goals reach their 2015 implementation deadline.

According to a dispatch from Addis Ababa, the Liberian Leader made these remarks when she joined the Presidents of Ethiopia, Gabon, Tunisia, Kenya, Malawi, Senegal and Rwanda, as well as the Chairperson of the A U  Commission and former President of Zambia, Kenneth Kaunda, among others.

President Sirleaf also attended the Children and Youth Assembly and an Intergenerational Dialogue with hundreds of youth and children from across the continent. The Dialogue was moderated by the British Broadcasting Corporation’s Zeinab Badawi.

Many of the young participants, who appeared fearless, impatient and angry, raised several critical issues with President Sirleaf and her colleagues, including the poor management of the continent’s resources; corruption; wars and conflict.

They questioned the failure to adopt a single African passport, currency and language; direct representation on the African Union Commission; the failure to pass legislations that advance the cause of youth and children, and the ratification and implementation of the African Youth Charter, among others.

Responding to some of the questions, President Sirleaf briefed the assembly of young people about the Post-2015 Development Agenda that is being concluded by the UN High-Level Panel of Eminent Persons, of which she is one of three co-chairs.

She informed them that the rigorous process that characterized the exercise ensures that the perspectives of the continent are captured and highlighted in the Panel’s draft report.

The Liberian leader emphasized that access to quality education and the creation of an environment that enables young people to pursue such education, and find employment, are all great challenges in Africa today. 

She, however, challenged the young people to give themselves credit for the number of positive changes that are taking place on the continent, adding that the voices of the youth are being heard and listened to, thereby compelling leaders to take proactive and affirmative action that addresses most of the governance issues and constraints.

“We do not have the liberty to ignore you, to marginalize you; you are not giving us that kind of liberty,” President Sirleaf emphasized.

She said that the changes that have occurred in Africa are due to the fact that the continent’s leaders are listening to the young people because they are fully participating.

The future for young Africans is now; President Sirleaf stressed, and called upon them to seize the opportunities that are fast emerging.

“We have many young government officials all across the continent. If you look around this table of leaders, you will see that many of the leaders of the continent are fairly young people,” she observed.

President Sirleaf told the audience that while there are still challenges in Liberia, her administration is bringing on board and working with young people, even in rural areas, to stimulate their potential, indicating that there are young people, rural and urban, who would say that they want to be Minister, President, etc., when asked about their ambitions.

She noted that fifty years ago, the forefathers of Africa set forth a vision to emancipate the continent and empower its people, and that today that vision is still alive.

“Today, the spirit of Pan Africanism and the African Renaissance is very strong and active with several opportunities for the young generation,” she emphasized, and urged the youth to seize the opportunity and build for themselves a bright future and a prosperous world.

By consensus, African leaders present at the Intergenerational Dialogue agreed that the voices of young people on the continent must be constantly listened to, and to move towards generational interdependence.

They accepted: that the objective of a single passport, a single currency and language could be possible in many years to come; to adopt practical and implementable goals; and to move away from tribalism and ethnic loyalty and hold an annual dialogue with young people.

They also accepted, in principle, to take the request for a Youth Commissioner on the AU Commission to their colleagues for discussion.

From EM Site



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