Lagos, Nigeria – 12th August, 2013: “You are the future of the continent, and you must build that future today. You must be strong, be focused and have confidence to reach your dreams. You must be role models for other girls and young women: in Africa and the world, for current and future generations. You are Africa’s future – and I am confident that the future looks bright. We shouldn’t just want you to reach where we are, but beyond.”
These were some of the inspirational and motivational words with which H.E. Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC) reached out to hundreds of delegates attending the week-long 10th Africa Regional Conference of the World Association of Girl Guides and Girls Scouts in Lagos, Nigeria.
Encouraging African girls and young women to continue working hard and soaring toward excellence, the conference theme, Dr. Dlamini Zuma, enjoined the adults to mentor, share experiences, protect, provide opportunities and work for a better life for the next generations.
Listing a battery of professional areas, the AU Chairperson encouraged the girls and young women to courageously venture into various professions of human endeavor, without which, she said, Africa cannot fully develop.
“The African Union knows that for us to succeed, we must develop the potential of both men and women. We therefore, pay special attention to the empowerment of young women and girls. If girls and young women are empowered, they develop their self-esteem, build confidence and overcome any obstacles… I believe in the development of the capacity of women. That is why I came to this conference.”
Welcoming Dr. Dlamini Zuma, the Chairperson of the Africa Region, Helinoro Rakotomalala, said they were encouraged by her presence at the conference. “We the girl guides of the Africa region find in you our role model. While we are soaring for excellence, we find excellence amongst us,” she remarked.
Ms. Rakotomalala took the opportunity to present work that the Girl Guides and Girls Scouts do on the ground throughout the continent. Their activities include: programmes on HIV/AIDS, ending violence, peace education, community education, good governance and the empowerment of their members to prepare them for leadership responsibilities. She also seized the opportunity to request for a Day dedicated to Girl Guides; as well as a partnership opportunity with the African Union Commission. The AUC Chairperson promised collaboration on these issues as well as exploring possibilities of establishing a Memorandum of Understanding.
A highlight of the opening of the conference was the honouring of Dr. Dlamini Zuma with the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts (WAGGGS) illustrious 'Award for Woman of Outstanding Achievement.' Handing over the award, Nadine El-Achy, Chairperson of the World Board said, who also was a guest to the region, said, the award is for someone who has worked hard and made outstanding contributions. Expressing her feeling of honour and humility, Dr. Dlamini Zuma accepted the award and dedicated it to all the women in the world and on the continent.
Continuing with deliberations throughout the course of the week, the AUC Chairperson tasked the delegates to also discuss and forward to the Commission by October 2013 their contribution to inform and shape Africa’s 2063 Agenda.