‘Horn of Africa Women Forum’
16th September 2018, Vienna Austria
Universal Peace Federation (UPF) Austria, UNCAV, United Nation Correspondents Association in cooperation with the Permanent Mission of the State of Eritrea to the United Nations in Vienna, and “Horn of Africa Peace Initiative”, hosted a panel discussion, ‘Horn of Africa Women Forum’ in Vienna Austria with a special focus on Women’s Empowerment and Development.
The event was attended by diplomats, investors, members of the VIC United Nation and invited guests from Eritrea, Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Egypt and Austrian.
Dr. Peter Haider, President of UPF, in his opening statement welcomed the guests and gave a brief introduction.
The panelists included Ms.Yohanna P. Teklu & Ms. Mahta Tewolde (Eritrea), Ms. Etenesh Hadis (Ethiopia), Hadiel Osman (Sudan). The forum was chaired and moderated by Mag. Elisabeth Cook, Vice President of Universal Peace Federation.
Mag. Elisabeth Cook thanked everyone for attending and stated that the ‘Horn of Africa Women Forum’ is an important occasion for celebration and harmony, consolidation of East Africa unity, strengthen the African culture and identity, promoting higher mobilization, developing African Women capacity.
Ms.Mahta Tewolde one of the panelists spoke about Eritrean women role during the struggle for independence, she said;- Eritrean women played a tremendous role in bringing independence, and peace to Eritrea by fighting along their male counterparts. Ms. Yohanna P.Teklu addressed Eritrea’s Women Experience.
She spoke about NUEW and it is achievements. A grass root civil organization that was established in 1979, today with a membership of more than 450.000 and offices all over the country is actively involved at all levels of the society and the government, to advance the empowerment of women and to protect the right of women. She said Eritrea has put in place a 5 year National Gender Action Plan (2014-2019) which focuses on education, health, economic empowerment and power-sharing and decision-making processes. Eritrea has criminalized child marriage, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) as well as all types of violence, including domestic.
Ms. Etenesh Hadis from Ethiopia, Chair of African Women‘s organization, on her part spoke about the peace agreement signed between Eritrea and Ethiopia. Commending President Isaias Afewerki and Prime Minister Abiy for courageously leading their citizens towards peace, prosperity, she underlined that the normalization of relations and the adoption of the Joint Declaration of Peace and Friendship between Eritrea and Ethiopia will provide the people of Horn of Africa with the opportunity to focus on shared aspirations for closer political, economic, and social ties.
Ms. Hadiel Osman, Sudan had one of the earliest and most vigorous women’s movements in the Arab and African worlds. From the 1950s to the 1970s, the women’s movement in Sudan was successful in securing and extending basic legal rights to women. Women’s participation in the 60’s and the Intifada was important to the success of democratic changes. However, their roles and abilities were never recognized and promoted by the authorities.
Ms. Hadiel Osman said that the previous generations have done their part and now, “we want to do our best to support the New Generation of the 21st century”.
The participants of the Forum said that they found it to be enlightening and was one that gave an insight into the overall challenges on women issues related to the Horn of Africa.
In her closing remarks Mag. Elisabeth Cook stressed the importance of the forum in bringing together stakeholders from all fields to address and share their experiences, as well as reflect the reality in the Horn of Africa, and explore opportunities for further collaboration towards sustainable development and empowering women in the Horn.
Another unforgettable moment of the event was the musical performance by the Ethiopian cultural group; sent the crowd wild.