By Staff reporter 19/9/2015
Former Malawi President Dr Joyce Banda has been honoured by the African Union Diaspora Africa Forum, in collaboration with the United Nations Women at a historic two-day event in New York to award African Women of Excellence.
On September 11, the honourees convened at the United Nations Women Conference Room for a round-table discussion on Global African Women’s Issues.
Chaired by Dr Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka (former deputy president of South Africa and executive director, UN Women) and Dr Erieka Bennett (head of AU-DAF), at the start of the meeting, participants acknowledged one minute of silence for 9/11 victims. The honourees discussed their lives journeys and imparted strategies for success with female mentees who also shared their experiences. Rosemary Duncan, manager of the Rita Marley Foundation (JA), was among them.
In an emphatic message, Marley conveyed, “I grew up black-oriented and keen on my identity as a black queen. My mantra has been: ‘Say it loud. I am black and proud.’ I am happy and honoured to open the eyes and minds of young girls to love their African identity. As my husband said in his song, No Woman No Cry, ‘Oh little sister don’t shed no tears ’cause everything is gonna be alright.’ He also said: ‘So much trouble in the world. All we have to do is give a little.”
The following evening, the distinguished women received awards during an exquisite ceremony at the Warwick Hotel. Marley is one of two remarkable women bestowed the highest honour, the Living Legends Award. The Marley family matriarch was awarded for philanthropic works in Africa and Jamaica, through the Rita Marley Foundation, and for being the driving force that has kept Bob Marley’s legacy alive.The other Living Legends awardee is Madame Xernona Clayton, a philanthropist and founder of Trumpet Awards.
NEED FOR UNITY
In an eloquently delivered message, Marley said:”I want to show some love to Africa, Jamaica and our ancestors. As Bob Marley said, ‘Africa unite, ’cause we’re treading on the winepress for far too long.’ United we stand, divided we fall.”
She further read: “The foundation works in Ghana and Jamaica to improve the lives of women, children and the elderly through health, education, nutrition and community projects. This Living Legends Award means the Rita Marley Foundation is on the right path. However, I tell you that all of us gathered here this evening still have a great deal of work ahead of us; because right now in Africa, young girls and women are being killed for pursuing an education. Children and women are also the most impoverished people on the continent.
“At this moment, little girls are condemned into childhood marriages and young girls forced into prostitution; in 2015, women (Africa and the diaspora) are victimised for being women and earn less than men for similar skills and labour. Right now in Africa, women walk long distances on lonely, dangerous roads to seek food and water for their families. Also the majority of people injured or killed during conflict are children and women.”
The other awardees were Dr Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka; Justice Julia Sarkodie-Mensah; Ambassador Alice Dear; Dr Gloria Herndon; Dr Arikana Chihombori; Vivian Derryck; Cecilia Anim; Claudette Perry and Florizelle Liser.
Dr Joyce Banda (former president of Malawi ), Dr Toni Luck (African transformation and development specialist), and Olivia Jordan (Miss USA 2015) were among the acclaimed women who participated in the event.