Harare, Zimbabwe (PANA): The Pan African Women's Organization (PAWO) new secretary-general, Assetu Koite, has pledged to support existing mechanisms aimed at resolving conflicts on the continent's troubled spots. Addressing a press conference at the close of the Eighth PAWO Conference in Harare on Thursday, Koite said the women would send delegations to talk to warring factions in an attempt to amicably resolve conflicts. They would also collaborate with the recently formed Organization of African Unity (OAU) First Ladies' Club as they had the same mission, she said. PAWO, Koite said, would try to help countries that were facing sanctions such as Libya, because it was often the women and children who suffered as a result of these. African women have an important role to play in this because without peace there is no development and therefore no women's integration, she said. The organization would also work towards eliminating illiteracy, poverty and other problems facing women, she said. The theme for the conference was: Conflicts in Africa, From Rhetoric To Action. Meanwhile, African women celebrated The Day of the African Woman on Thursday amid calls for peace and stability on the continent.
July 31 was declared the day of The African Woman by the OAU to enable women to reflect on their successes and failures. In solidarity messages at the celebrations which coincided with the closing of the PAWO congress, the women urged leaders to bring an end to the wars which were resulting in the suffering of women and children. We are tired of wars, hatred and intolerance which is abundant in our men who leave us in a state of misery, said Filomena Delgado, the Angolan deputy minister of women's affairs. We would like to see peace so that we can fight for economic development with practical strategies, she said. While Africa was fighting for political improvement other continents were developing further. Delgado urged leaders to transform their guns into hoes to cultivate land and to channel their energies towards developing their countries. There was need, she said, for African governments to reconstruct their economies and invest in training to enhance productivity. Delgado urged governments to implement the resolutions reached at the PAWO Congress as the organization's goals were geared towards development.
Other speakers called on women to continue the fight against women's oppression as the battle against colonialism had been won. They lamented their continued marginalization and called for unity among themselves if they were to win the battle. Even with this situation, we hope that we will be able to step forward to peace, stability and gender equity, Delgado said.