By Rammolotsi Kgotso Sothoane
On 01 March 2018, the SheDecides Flagship Event brought together SheDecides Global Champions with 200 Ministers, youth leaders and parliamentarians from Ethiopia, Kenya, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Rwanda, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.
Activators working with initiatives aimed at promoting sexual and reproductive health rights and women and girl child empowerment contributed to proceedings at this progressive gathering. Among these was Bongiwe Ndlovu who works closely with the A! Health Sector and Capacity Building at ACTIVATE! Change Drivers, Zanele Mabaso and Lerato Marulane both Youth Champions for She Conquers and Kanyisa Booi who is the country representative for FEM.
SheDecides is a global movement to promote, provide, protect and enhance the fundamental rights of every girl and woman. Among the key objectives of the SheDecides Flagship Event was that of encouraging more leaders from governments, parliaments, youth-led organisations and other supporters, in particular from the East & Southern African region, to Stand Up and Speak Out for SheDecides.
The event reaffirmed that every girl and every woman has the right to do what she chooses with her body; she has the right to health. The gathering further asserted that these rights affect her personal development, her participation in society, her livelihood and whether her family and community thrive.
In his opening remarks, South Africa’s Minister of Health Mr Aaron Motsoaledi described the SheDecides movement as a movement for humanity. “SheDecides is more than just a health issue, it is a human rights issue”, he stated. Mr Motsoaledi maintained that the SheDecides movement has the potential to fundamentally alter the power relations between men and women and therefore address the pertinent issue of gender inequality in general.
Activator and She Conquers Youth Champion Lerato Marulane echoed the Minister’s sentiments in her address. She emphatically stated that quest for gender equality must be cognizant of the need to empower women and girls to exercise their human rights.
Among the dignitaries represented at the event was Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director at UN Women, Diane Jacovella, Deputy Minister for International Development from Canada, Ulla Tornaes, Minister for Development Corporation from Denmark and Lilianne Ploumen MP and SheDecides Founding Champion to name just a few.
Key among the resolutions of the SheDecides Flagship Event was the need to mobilise communities and individuals across the world to work collaboratively towards advancing the fundamental human rights and status of women and girl children. Moreover, the event explored the pressing question of building capacity, increasing financial resources and enhancing accountability for action to achieve the afore-mentioned.