, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 17- African women have resolved to take up leadership opportunities following the launch of the African women\’s decade in Nairobi as the continent attempts to achieve gender parity.
The conference themed \’grassroots approach to gender equality and women\’s empowerment\’ attracted close to 3000 women from 53 African states and also presented an opportunity for analyzing their role in realizing Millennium Development Goals.
Some of the women who spoke to Capital News expressed their optimism over a bright future ahead saying they (women) had an important role to play in the continent\’s economic development.
"Come on board and don\’t complain. Time for complaining is long gone. This is a celebratory moment for African women and especially for us Kenyan women because we have a new constitution which has a lot for us," said Sarah, one of the Kenyan delegates.
They also urged fellow women to support each other in securing leadership positions so as to get a voice among decision makers.
"The message to the young women is that you are doing well, you are educated so use your knowledge and skills to claim your rights and hold your sister\’s hand. No one is going to give it to us on a silver platter," said Tesa from Swaziland.
The women\’s conference which was opened on Monday by Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka ran for four days with the launch of the women\’s decade (2010-2020) on Friday being the climax.
Various delegates graced the conference including Malawian President Bingu wa Mutharika, Gambian Vice President Isatou Njie-Saidy, the African Union Commission Chairperson Jean Ping, United Nations Deputy Secretary General Asha-Rose Migiro, first Ladies, African gender ministers, among others.
During the four days, the women delegates participated in various meetings and activities where they made proposals geared toward women empowerment.
"For instance we had a session on young women caucus and Kenya decided to form a national chapter which is something that the rest of the countries could learn from. We are happy with this because one of the objectives of the 10 year plan is to mentor young women," said Ms Tesa.
African Union member states were also asked to set up national committees that would be instrumental in identifying viable grassroots projects to be sponsored by the AU Women\’s Fund.
Prime Minister Raila Odinga who also attended the conference on Thursday called upon the AU member states to honor their pledge and donate one percent of their national to the African Women Fund.
"I laud the establishment of the African Women\’s Fund by the AU as it gives many states the opportunity to access resources in support of projects which member states will identify for the promotion of gender equality," he had said.
The launch of the women\’s decade also witnessed a handing over ceremony of a mentoring torch to young women.