By UN Deputy Secretary-General
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It gives me great pleasure to be present at today’s launch of the Ethiopian Chapter of the African Women Leaders Network.
I want to begin by acknowledging the presence of the President of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, Her Excellency, Madam Sahle-Work Zewde, who is an active member of the Network, and to commend her extraordinary leadership during the recent UN General Assembly High Level Week. I would also like to acknowledge the presence of the African Union Youth Envoy Aya Chebbi, whose energy is lighting a fire under all of us to deliver better for Africa’s youth.
This dynamic group brings together African women leaders from various sectors, including government, business, civil society and academia, with the aim of enhancing the leadership of African women towards the realization of Africa’s Agenda 2063 and the Sustainable Development Goals.
The Network started two years ago as a joint initiative of the African Union Commission and the United Nations; and I congratulate my dear sisters Phumzile and Bineta for their thought leadership and tireless commitment to this undertaking, and for inspiring young women as I witnessed in Kenya recently.
Through peer learning, the sharing of experiences and cross-generational dialogues, we are striving to reinforce women’s contributions to politics, peacebuilding, climate action and economic and social transformation.
The Network has multiplied the voices and participation of women leaders, particularly young women, from the grassroots to key decision-making processes at the national, continental and global levels.
Looking ahead, new national chapters are critical.
I am confident that this newest national chapter will generate greater technical and financial support for women’s leadership and the women’s movement in Ethiopia, building on the remarkable gains of the past few years.
There is now gender parity in the cabinet.
Women have been appointed to key leadership positions such as President, head of the country’s highest court and chairperson of the Election Board.
And women’s representation in the federal parliament is nearing 40 per cent.
These are all commendable developments.
These advances were also noted by the Nobel Committee this month, which recognized Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s role not only in regional peacemaking but also in significantly increasing the influence of women in Ethiopian political and community life.
Indeed, there is a direct relationship between increased women’s leadership and sustainable peace.
And that is why I am here with you today, co-leading our third UN-AU joint mission on women, peace, and security and development. Like the African Women Leaders Network, these missions are a platform where the United Nations and African Union are coming together to further our shared goals of gender equality and women’s leadership.
For these goals to be achieved across the continent, it will be important to capitalize on the progress made here in Ethiopia, particularly your model of creating space for the leadership of women and youth.
Globally, we are also at an opportune time to move this agenda forward, as we look ahead to next year’s commemoration of the 25th Anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action, five years since the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals, and the 20th Anniversary of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace and security and the Decade of Action for the Sustainable Development Goals.
You can count on the United Nations and on my personally. And through this exciting new chapter of the Network, you can now also count on the support of your fellow women across the continent.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations – Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General.