As #AfricaMonth2018 concluded, I find myself contemplating my identity and future as an African woman. I am glad that we have made some progress on the continent to improve the lives of women but I am also anxious to experience accelerated change in how women are protected, educated, and included equitably in business, politics and society as a whole. “We are not just demanding a seat at the table. We want to redesign the table and whole system,” said Graça Machel, humanitarian and widow of Nelson Mandela, at a gathering of 300 women in Dar es Salaam, Ethiopia in 2017. Ms Machel was adamant to drive home the point that African women are ready and equipped to re-configure a prosperous and peaceful continent which enables all who live in it to thrive.
Investing in the upliftment of women can yield positive returns for society. The World Bank defines education as a strategic development priority as it produces healthier, more economically empowered women whose risk to issues like early marriage and unplanned pregnancy is reduced. When women have increased access to education and if they earn a better income, it improves their children’s health, nutrition and education.
I believe that I am an African woman who has better life prospects than most. This can be attributed to my upbringing, the support system I have, the education I have received and how my health needs have been optimally met since I was born. I also have a job and encouraging career prospects. Most women my age however, have more difficult paths to walk. In sub-Saharan Africa, three million more girls aged six to nine years than boys of the same age will never attend school. Many African women are denied the opportunity to earn a living and when they are allowed to work, they earn significantly less than their male counterparts.
While the status quo often leaves me feeling slightly depressed and anxious for a dramatic change in this narrative, I am proud that we have much to celebrate and be appreciative of. We African women have insurmountable strength which we use to fight our way out of the bottom of the inequality scale/barrel. We fight fiercely for what we love. We are beautiful beyond words – inside and out. Our incredible potential and our hope for a glowing African future is something to admire. I dream of an Africa in which all little girls will become the doctors, teachers, presidents and judges they aspire to become. Aluta Continua!