MDG3: Empowering African Women
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MDG3: Empowering African Women
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As the second decade of the 21st century dawns, the United Nations Development Programme and the African Union are placing an emphasis on advancing women's rights and gender equality throughout the African continent. Meet some of the women who are leading this push and laying the foundation for the "decade of African women."
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Produced and directed by Mandela Gregoire.

Originally featured in the ViewChange Online Film Contest.


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Segment 1

UN MDG 3: Empowering African Women: A Success Story.
SANDRA ZERBO [MDG3 Coordinator, TrustAfrica]
Many countries in Africa are going to reach their 50th year anniversary of independence, which means it's been 50 years since they've been nation-states. In a nation-state, we have to consider gender equality. There is no way around it. The African Union has tagged the period 2010 to 2020 as "the decade of African women" to really use this time to put women at the forefront of many of the fights that we carry out. This time is crucial, and it is a time that we can use to really push the MDG3 agenda forward.
My name is Marietta M. Williams, Executive Director of the United Muslim Women Advocacy and Empowerment Organization. The problem that we actually have is illiteracy. The illiteracy among our rural women is 95%.
We are learning. We didn't read before, but they came in and taught us how to read and write. To even sit down among two or three people to speak. It was hard on us, but we thank them. They've been teaching us our ABC's and our rights. Your rights in the community, your rights with your husband, rights with property, your rights as a woman. And how to take care of your child to go to school.
Things have improved; women are now talking for themselves, they now know about their rights, their responsibilities. They know they have the right to own property, they have the right to go to school, and they have the right to engage in businesses. They have the right to meet as a group to discuss issues that are affecting them in the communities.
They told us about the group. They said they were going to come to empower the women. They came and helped to open our eyes.
Men can respect women now.
In terms of women's political participation, we are establishing internships to give the opportunity to emerging leaders to participate in the activities of organizations that work on that issue. And then we are also trying to set up exchange trips for women leaders to learn from each other in another environment. There has to first be some sort of political will to move women forward, which is probably what we've seen in Rwanda. There has been a lot of political will to have gender equity in parliament, which they've reached.
SARAH MUKASA [Director of Programs, African Women's Development Fund]
We would like to see more women in governance and leadership. As presidents, we have Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who's doing a wonderful job in Liberia. We hope to see more of those kinds of examples on the continent.
All in all, I think that the opportunities are there and that these challenges can be overcome. And we've seen so with Liberia, where we have a woman president, and also in Rwanda, where parliament is a 50-50 share. We care about the MDG3 because we care about mothers. In taking care of mothers, we take care of children. It's clear that children are the future of our continent, so if we take good care of their mothers, if a child doesn't see his or her mother beaten up at home, then your child grows up in an environment that makes him a leader for tomorrow. We have international organizations like the UNDP that really help improve the capacity of women. There are a lot of women's groups and women's advocates that lobby not only at the national level but also at the international level to say to the world that, you know, this is not fair and we need the situation to change. Over the years things have improved, and we have to recognize that and acknowledge the fact that there have been a lot of civil society organizations, a lot of women advocates, who have fought for the cause and who have done a great job at it.
ADHIAMBO ODAGA [Representative, Ford Foundation - West Africa]
Things are moving, you know. Africa is on the move. Everyday, somewhere, people are organizing and making life better for themselves and for their families and their communities.