Source: GNN Liberia
Johannesburg, South Africa - Continuing with official activities in Johannesburg, South Africa ahead of the 25th African Union Summit, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has met with some actors and stakeholders promoting women empowerment on the African continent.

According to a dispatch from Johannesburg, the Liberian leader met with representatives of the African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF), Empowering Women in Agriculture Initiative (EWAI), Gender is my Agenda Campaign (GIMAC), a network of grass-root organizations, and Femmes Africa Solidarities (FAS).

The delegation included Madam Binta Diop, Mrs. Thelma Aworie, Joyce Cacho and the Executive Secretary of the ACBF, Professor Emmanuel Nnadozie.

On behalf of the delegation, Professor Nnadozie congratulated President Sirleaf for the excellent leadership role she continues to play not just for Liberia, but the entire African continent which has witnessed tremendous progress. He particularly thanked her for showing leadership during the Ebola crisis and for quickly defeating the surge of the virus.

In the context of the 20th GIMAC pre-summit consultative meeting on gender mainstreaming held on the margins of the 19th African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in July 2012, the GIMAC coordinated by Femmes Africa Solidarities (FAS) launched the initiative to empower women in agriculture initiative (EWAI) in partnership with the ACBF. The initiative was officially launched under the patronage of President Sirleaf on July 15, 2012 at a high-level breakfast meeting in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

President Sirleaf and representatives of the African Women's Movement representing GIMAC were joined at the event by many distinguished guests who accepted to support the initiative such as the former President of Burkina Faso, Blaise Campore; the Foreign Minister of Senegal, Alioune Badara Cisse; Agriculture Minister of Djibouti, Mohammed Ahmed Awaleh; and the former President of the African Development Bank, Dr. Donald Kerberuka; among others.

The Empowering Women in Agriculture Initiative, led by a high-level panel composed of several African Heads of States and Government, identified as champions for promoting women's empowerment and agriculture in the their countries including Liberia's President Sirleaf and Rwanda's President Paul Kagame who accepted to serve as co-chairs as well as the leaders of Burkina Faso, Senegal, Djibouti and Malawi.

During the meeting with the Liberian leader, the group briefed her about progress made so far and outstanding challenges that must be overcome. They also provided insights about programs to be executed including the conduct of a study that is yet to be undertaken in Liberia and Senegal on women in agriculture as well as a validation workshop on the findings of the study.

They indicated that moves are underway to mobilize beneficiaries of the program basically targeting women farmers and market women on the continent.

With the focus of the 25th African Union Summit directed at "Women's Empowerment and Development towards Africa's Agenda 2063," the group said it was important to give adequate briefing to President Sirleaf who they considered very influential among her peers and leaders on the African continent so as to enable her effective advocacy and representation of the goals and objectives of the roups at the upcoming 25th Ordinary Session of the Assembly of Head of States and Government of the African Union.

President Sirleaf thanked the groups for the visit and the update on their activities and underscored the need for getting the structure of the effort well in place to enhance efficiency and continuity as well as financial flow for the developed interventions.

The Liberian leader advised that the timing for support mobilization is appropriate for many reasons to include the global rise in attention to the importance of agriculture for food security and nutrition, the African Union's focus on women's empowerment and development, and the recent Ebola crisis in West Africa. "We need to build the system now to ensure that programs aimed at developing and empowering women such as those undertaken by GIMAC, EWAI, ACBF, etc. can be supported," President Sirleaf stressed.

She informed them about an upcoming event on women's empowerment in Germany to which she has been invited by the German Chancellor, Angela Mikel.

She also pointed out that the criteria for choosing a country to host the Secretariat should be quickly developed as a key step towards addressing the structural issues and receiving the deserved attention.

President Sirleaf emphasized the need to revamp the LIMPAC initiative which has become dormant for some time now with the necessary structural adjustment and appropriate staffing.

Meanwhile, the Liberia President made a visit to Pretoria to visit with the Liberian Chancery and meet with Embassy officials and staff.

She will later this evening participate in the African Women of Excellence Awards Empowerment Banquet at the Michelangelo Hotel in Johannesburg.

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