Celebrating the women of Africa

Since African Women’s Day was just a few days ago (July 31st), I felt I would take the opportunity to recognize the invaluable role that women play in societies across Africa and draw attention to an interesting initiative to celebrate the women of Africa.

I read an article the other day about the Walking Africa campaign – a campaign that aims to “raise awareness of African women’s commitment to all facets of life as well as to promote cooperation that supports their organisations on the international stage” through the presentation of the Nobel Peace Prize 2011 to the women of Africa as a collective.

The proposal is rooted to the fact that African women have, over the years, assumed a pivotal role in everyday life in Africa.  These women exhibit leadership in diverse aspects of life ranging from

household tasks to social and political activities.  African women are active in the management and development of economic activities in their local communities: there exist thousands of women’s cooperatives occupied with agricultural, trade and educational activities. African women also play an increasing role in new native types of social and economic activity, including the microcredit initiatives throughout Africa that have facilitated the foundation of thousands of small enterprises. They are also engaged in local healthcare and education activities; they provide assistance and information to increase awareness of the HIV virus and malaria in their villages.  Overall, women are vital to the continuation and improvement of life within their communities.

The campaign gives a voice to the women of Africa and draws attention to the incessant discrimination and human rights violations that women face.  Despite these abuses, women continue to display commitment to the establishment of peace and the pursuit of a brighter future.  The campaign communicates the belief that “the humble woman of Africa and the pivotal role that she plays can help pave the reconstruction of a more just human society.”  Setting aside the question of whether or not African women should receive the award, the intention behind the Walking Africa campaign and its commitment to gaining recognition of the resilience, ingenuity, dedication and strength of African women should be commended.

-Kristin