Source: All Africa

Africa must fully endorse the role of women's empowerment and gender equality as a key driver of the process of sustainable development on the continent, the group of African women ambassadors to Zimbabwe has said.

Speaking during a clean-up campaign in Harare yesterday in the build-up to the 52nd Africa Day commemorations, Malawi's Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mrs Jane Kambalame, said the group was unanimous in its call to reaffirm the need to dismantle barriers to gender inequality and embrace a dedicated commitment to women's empowerment to ensure their full participation.

"The African Union's declaration of 2015 as the Year of Women Empowerment is a great stride towards Africa's development," she said during a clean-up at the Simon Vengai Muzenda (formerly Fourth Street) terminus in the capital.

"It is time the African woman is empowered so that we are able to meet Africa's Agenda 2063. Let's eradicate poverty in Africa by empowering women with economic opportunities.

"Investing in women is not only a right thing to do, it is the smartest thing to do now in order for us to move forward as African people," said Ambassador Kambalame.

She said African women cannot continue to be overlooked and targeted policies were needed to help increase women's participation in the economy, reduce poverty rates and stimulate economic development on the continent.

"Economic empowerment and women's human rights cannot be overlooked. They have been placed firmly on the agenda along with other rights that are now accepted -- the right to vote, to own property, to take leadership positions," she said.

At the same event, Kenya's Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Mrs Lucy Chilemo, urged Africa to reaffirm its commitment to the empowerment of women on the continent.

"From the first International Women's Day in 1911 to today in 2015, advances in areas such as economic empowerment and women's human rights cannot be overlooked," she said.

"As we commemorate Africa Day this coming week, let's take advances in politics and any other aspect in our society. Let's use this opportunity to affirm our commitment to women."

To show solidarity to the African Union's declaration of 2015 as a year of empowering women, the group of women ambassadors to Zimbabwe organised a clean-up campaign.

Africa Day will be commemorated next Monday.

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