, VICTORIA FALLS, Jun 7 – First Lady Lucy Kibaki has underscored the need for consolidating regional economic integration through value addition, trade and food security as a way of empowering women in the continent.
Noting that the theme for the 13th Summit of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) was ‘Consolidating Regional Economic Integration through Value Addition, Trade and Food Security’, the First Lady said the theme was particularly relevant to women as value addition, trade and security are critical in enhancing the welfare of women in Africa.
”This is a particularly relevant theme for us because women comprise the bulk of the labour force engaged in agriculture and are also among the most vulnerable to food insecurity,” said the First Lady.
Mrs Kibaki made the remarks in an address read on her behalf by Martha Mugambi who represented her during the 5th COMESA First Ladies Round Table held at Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe on Sunday.
“It is my appeal that we pursue the spirit of this theme in the course of our work because value addition, trade and food security represent key areas of enhancing the welfare of women in the COMESA region and Africa in general,” she said.
Noting that the Round Table meetings have continued to give First Ladies from the COMESA region a platform to address important issues affecting the society, Mrs. Kibaki expressed satisfaction that their voices have been heard through the communiqués they have been issuing since June 2004, when the first COMESA First Ladies Round Table was held in Kampala, Uganda.
The First Lady, at the same time, pointed out that First Ladies from the region have a unique contribution to make in enhancing the general welfare of their society, and that of women and children in particular.
“I thank each one of you for your outreach work in your respective countries and for the wealth of experiences you have availed to this Round Table,” Mrs. Kibaki said.
She commended the COMESA Secretariat for continuing to organize the round table meetings and urged them to keep up their work.
Mrs. Kibaki also thanked her counterparts from the region and the COMESA Secretariat for their support during her tenure of office, saying they made considerable progress in the implementation of the COMESA Gender Policy.
The First Lady, who has been the Chairperson of the COMESA First Ladies Round Table since May 2007, officially handed over to Mrs. Mugabe on Sunday and wished her a successful tenure of office.