An international conference on the status of African women is underway in Capetown, South Africa. The four-day conference is dubbed "Women and the Economic Recovery of Africa." It brings together notable women from around the continent – including Kenya's 2004 Nobel Prize winner Wangari Mathaai, Pan African Parliament President Gertrude Mongela and South African Deputy President Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.
Freelance reporter Vania Cloete told English to Africa reporter Ashenafi Abedje the opening day conference was well-attended with more than two hundred delegates from fifty countries. She says issues before the delegates include the fact that “women, although they have rights on paper, they are still very much exploited within Africa.” Cloete says the delegates underscore “the importance of women understanding why discussing these issues is important.”
The Capetown-based reporter says a lot has changed in South Africa since the introduction of democratic rule nearly eleven years ago. She says, “Today, women have more of a voice than what they’ve ever had before. A lot of women have come forward and made their voice heard, and they’ve changed a lot of things within the country and for themselves. But a lot of times still, they are under the male rule.”
Cloete explains what the delegates hope to achieve at their four-day conference. “They like to see women understand the value of listening to the inner voice and listening to other women’s voices. That when you speak about something, change can take place. So they have arranged this conference for women to be housed under the same roof, and also to brainstorm the way forward.”