Sawubona Sisters: Rise Up and Redefine Power!

A clarion call echoed across the Pan African Pre-Sawubona leadership meeting in Addis Ababa, igniting a renewed flame within African feminists yearning to rethink and reimagine leadership and governance on the continent in the political arena. In solidarity, Akina Mama wa Afrika (AMwA), FEMNET, the Ellen Sirleaf Johnson Presidential Centre for Women and Development (ESJC) and the African Women’s Leadership Network (AWLN), and the Gender is My Network Campaign (GIMAC), Mzalendo Trust and Make Every Woman Count (MEWC) joined forces and voices with a shared message: Patriarchy’s grip must loosen, and women must rise! 

The session served as a poignant reflection, a journey through the past, present, and future of female leadership on the continent. A stark reality emerged, African women, brimming with potential, are systematically denied the platform to meaningfully participate in political discourse and decision-making. 


Hon. Millie Odhiambo, Suba North Member of Parliament of Kenya thundered, “We need to push back against these oppressive structures, and in the spirit of Sawubona, lift each other up!” Her words resonated, dispelling the myth that politics is a moral challenge for women. “Women leaders are capable,” she declared, “Women must be bold to take their rightful pace in the political space.” 

Echoing these sentiment, Hon. Fatuma Ndangiza, the Secretary General of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) Women’s Caucus highlighted the grassroots struggle of women in politics. In her view, African women are capable of leading, however, they continue to be bombarded by the weight of the triple role – nurturing families, advocating for equality, and driving change – this is overburdening.” Her voice resonated with the struggles of countless women, juggling responsibilities while fighting for their rightful place at the decision-making tables. 

“Women must find their way into the rooms where decisions are made,” asserted Winnie Kiiza, a former Leader of Opposition in Uganda. Her words painted a stark picture of millions of women; silenced by poverty and oppression, with their voices yearning to be heard. 

The pre-Sawubona meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia wasn’t just a discussion; it was a fiery ignition. It sparked a renewed passion, a burning desire to rewrite the narrative of women’s political participation in Africa. The message was clear: women must lead and femntor the next generation to accelerate the momentum of inclusive governance and gender equality. 

Sawubona, sisters! The time for action is now. Let us redefine power, reclaim our space, and together, rewrite the future of Africa.The  aforementioned is a co-creation from Akina Mama wa Africa and FEMNET.  For more information on the aforementioned email: Dorothy Otieno and Chimwemwe Fabiano


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