Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – African Union Commission (AUC) Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma has praised the resilience and courage of the women in Mali under very difficult conditions, as their country emerges from a trying moment in its history.
“Your struggle is our struggle and if you succeed, the women of Africa succeed.” Dr. Dlamini Zuma said during her ongoing tour of the West African country, which is struggling to restore State authority over its entire northern part that was invaded by secessionist rebels.
Talking to a group of over 40 women, including representatives from the north of Mali and refugee camps in neighbouring countries, the AUC Chairperson reassured them that the struggle for the rights of women to participate in all affairs of their country “is a universal struggle, being fought by women across the continent, in conflict and non-conflict situations alike.”
“Women therefore have to unite and work together for their right to participate,” said Dr. Dlamini Zuma.
One of the women representatives told the AUC Chairperson that many women in the camps were not literate and they felt excluded.
“As we plan for their return to the communities, we must ensure not only the safety of these communities, but also empower the women to participate in the social and economic reconstruction of their communities and the country,” she said.
The women expressed hope and optimism with Mali’s newly-elected President Ibrahim Boubcar Keita’s commitment to national reconciliation and peace.
They urged Dr. Dlamini Zuma to champion their cause, ensuring that women are included in all the processes unfolding in the country: the peace talks and the reconciliation processes as well as the soon to be held legislative elections, in government and the administration.
Addressing, on Saturday, the sixth meeting of the Support and Follow-up Group on the Situation in Mali, Dr. Dlamini Zuma remarked that lasting peace and reconstruction would not be possible without the participation of Malian women who constitute over half of the country’s population.