African Suffragettes, Me Too: Now What?
CSW62 side event African Suffragettes: A Journey of Africa’s Hidden Figures through the Decades was organized by the Justina Mutale Foundation and hosted at the African Union Permanent Observer Mission to the United Nations on March 15, 2018. The need to empower and retell the stories of African women was reiterated in the Global Forum on Women’s Leadership and Change. A few of the notable speakers were the Vice President of the Gambia, Hon. Fatoumata Tambajang and Macdella Cooper, the only female to run for President last year in Liberia.
“The historical launch of the African Suffragettes, bringing to the fore the hidden figures in the African Women’s Suffrage Movement, who fought for the rights of women and the rights of their people and actively participated in the liberation struggles for the independence and development of Africa,” is how this has been described. The need for a change in the narrative for African women – from a culture depicting them as lacking agency to one acknowledging their strengths and contributions to the African society – comes at a time when gender equality is necessary for peace and women’s empowerment. The African woman’s space should be reserved and exalted in the history books.
The entire CSW62 experience has sparked an even greater desire within me to work towards gender equality, empower women and girls, and help achieve gender parity – especially in the global south. Due to the cultural and economic challenges women face in predominantly patriarchal societies, they are often victims of abuse facing severe economic hardship. CSW62 was a time to reflect on women in a global scope and learn from diverse groups how to support and accomplish the 5th sustainable development goal – gender equality – come 2030.
In conclusion, one synonymous sentiment shared by many of the delegates who spoke at these side events was to stop waiting – get actively involved in the fight to empower rural women and girls and make sure to bring others along. If not us, who?