Johannesburg, South Africa – The African Union – Diaspora African -Forum (AU-DAF) has honored and recognized President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and several other African women, including the former the Chairperson of the Council of State (COS) in Liberia, Mrs. Ruth Sando Perry, as “Women of Excellence”.
According to a dispatch from Johannesburg, South Africa, the honor was bestowed on them during a special AU-DAF Women of Excellence Awards Banquet held on Friday, June 12, 2015.
The organizers indicated that the event was designed to inspire, recognize and enjoy the achievements of President Sirleaf, former COS Chairperson Sando Perry, and a host of prominent and remarkable African women achievers.
They said the theme: “Year of Women’s Empowerment and Development towards Africa’s Agenda 2063,” reflects overall recognition of the African women’s incredible journey since the historic 4th World Conference of Women in Beijing. “We have witnessed great progress of women’s empowerment and today is another milestone as we celebrate women of courage; women of valor; women of insight, wisdom and power; our mothers, our sisters and friends,” Ambassador Erieka Bennett, head of AU-DAF and Co-chair for the 2015 African Women of Excellence Award (AWEA) said in her welcome remarks.
Others who received the “Women of Excellence” Award included Saida Agrebi of the Pan African Parliament representing Tunisia; Mrs. Nardos Bekele-Thomas, Resident Representative of the UNDP in Kenya; Dr. Arikana Chihombori, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and founder of Bell Family Medical Center in Tennessee, USA; Graca Machel of the Africa Progress Panel; and Justice Victoria Okobi, the first female non-lawyer to serve on the bench of the National Industrial Court.
Still others were Mrs. Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, wife of former President Rawlings of Ghana; Mrs. Salma Salifu, founder and CEO of Destiny Industries Limited in Ghana; Dr. Juliette Tuakli, Executive Board member of Mercy Ships international; Mrs. Joyce Banda, former President of Malawi; H.E. Mama Ngina Kenyatta, former First Lady of Kenya; Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, former wife of the late President Nelson Mandela; and H.E. Dr. Nkosazana Clarice Dlamini Zuma, Chairperson of the African Union Commission among others.
“We are so pleased that you took time from your busy schedules to help us celebrate the life and times of extraordinary women who have contributed so much to creating a world of peace, love, justice and equity,” Maite Emily Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister of International Relations and Cooperation of South Africa and Co-Chair for the 2015 AWEA said, adding, “We have arranged an exciting evening of celebration and recognition. We hope you will enjoy every moment of it as we pay tribute to Africa’s female Heads of States President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and Joyce Banda, former President of Malawi, along with the first-ever elected female Chairperson of the Africa Union Commission, Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma.”
Making remarks during the ceremony, President Sirleaf stressed that it was a great honor to be at the award ceremony and to say a great thank you to all the great women of Africa who have assembled through the AU-DAF for the honor given her and many distinguished African women and who have been with the honored women on the long journey.
She recounted that she has on many occasions being asked by the media and reporters if she thinks the world would be a better place if it was ruled by women and reflected on the virtues that women work harder, women are honest, that professional women with lesser pay perform effectively their given tasks, that they yet carry the full burden of the home, that women who are the victims of conflict end up being the peacemakers, that rural women in Africa are the ones that keep the nations moving, the farmers, the preservers and traders, etcetera. The Liberian leader said as the question keeps coming, she now answers and say look at the world today and answer the question yourselves.
President Sirleaf pointed out that there is no greater honor than being honored by your own and that was exactly what the women were doing at the honoring event. She extended her personal commendation to the rest of the honorees for their achievements and expressed that leadership responsibility for she and former President Joyce Banda is just the beginning for women’s leadership on the continent and the world at large and for greater movement of women that is surely coming, unstoppable, and irreversible. She said women, and many women, in the next ten years will be what she represents today.