Behind every successful man there is a woman. However behind the success of every nation there are women.
Addressing the African Union in Addis Ababa earlier last month, Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State, garnered an applause from the audience with her mention of the “continent’s women”, calling them the “hardest working women in the world.”
Long been an activist for women’s rights, Clinton remarked, “If all the women in Africa, from Cairo to Cape Town, decided they would stop working for a week, the economies of Africa would collapse,” receiving a second applause as evidence for support.
According to the World Food Programme, women in Africa work an average of 50 percent longer each day than men. This stands true as studies have shown that women produce more than 80 per cent of the food in Africa, yet there are very few who actually own the land they work on. Besides agricultural duties, these women even provide for their children and families with unrestrained dedication.
In September 2010, Clinton announced a $50 million contribution over five years to the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves,?a public-private partnership led by the United Nations Foundation to save lives, improve livelihoods, empower women, and combat climate change by creating a thriving global market for clean and efficient household cooking solutions.
The Alliance plans to provide 100 million new stoves to poor families in Africa, Asia and South America.
More than 70% of Africans burn solid fuels such as wood, charcoal or crop residues for their home cooking needs.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that each year more than one quarter of the worldwide deaths associated with exposure to cookstove smoke occur in Africa ? that equates to more than 550,000 deaths in Africa attributable to cookstoves.
The exposure to smoke from traditional cookstoves and open fires leads to nearly 2 million premature deaths of mostly women and children.
In Lusaka, Zambia, Clinton launched the Zambian chapter of African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP), announcing that the US will continue to support the AWEP.
The women of the 2010 AWEP visitors program were accomplished entrepreneurs and leaders of small and medium?sized businesses in Africa.
This program aims to empower African women entrepreneurs to become part of their national and global business network.
Violence against women, gender-based violence, internal strife, HIV, and illiteracy are few of the various problems plaguing Africa.
Hillary Clinton has always been a front runner in speaking up for women’s rights, whether it be in Beijing at the UN Conference on Women in 1995 or in Congo, at her first trip as Secretary of State, in 2009, where she was deeply affected by the severity of gender-based violence.
Thereby to build a successful nation the women have to be safe and healthy.
Sources: thecritical-post, wfp, iapnews.wordpress, state.gov