Ms Emma Lwitama Nyerere, daughter of Tanzania’s founding father Mwalimu Julius Nyerere, has called for the transformation of Africa through empowering women economically.
Ms Nyerere joined women from all walks of life to celebrate International Women’s Day at a Harare hotel on Friday evening, and her emotionally charged address was testimony to how much the visit to Zimbabwe meant to her.
International Women’s Day is commemorated annually on March 8 as a celebration of women’s achievements.
The dynamic Tanzanian is a geologist, a social worker who assists women and children on health services, and a leading real estate guru, all wrapped into one.
She was in Zimbabwe at the invitation of Ms Hazel Chinake from the Network for African Business Women (NABW) and was accompanied by her long-time friend, Ms Eva Mtwaza.
Addressing hundreds of men and women who were gathered for the celebrations, Ms Nyerere abandoned her prepared speech and spoke passionately from the heart.
“Let’s transform Africa through sincere economic empowerment. As my mama, Mama Graca Machel says, let’s dream big and love each other through words and actions,” she said.
Ms Nyerere also called on men to support their female counterparts.
“When we do things like this, it should not just be women in attendance. Men need to support us because we do, we never forget about them. These initiatives that seek to empower women will also benefit the men.”
She challenged Africa to introspect on why there were far fewer businesswomen in Africa as compared to men.
This year’s theme for International Women’s Day was “Planet 50-50 By 2014. Step It Up For Gender Equality”.
Friday’s event, which was sponsored by Lafarge Cement in partnership with the Institute of People Management and NABW, ran under the localised theme of “Multiplying Faces, Amplifying Voices-Celebrating Inclusion and Diversity”.
Members of the business community, the private sector, civic society and Government officials graced the event.
Prominent Government figures included the Minister of State for Harare Province Miriam Chikukwa; the Deputy Minister for Women’s Affairs, Gender and Community Development Abigail Damasane; the Minister of Industry and Commerce Mike Bimha and the Small to Medium Enterprises and Co-operatives Development Minister Sithembiso Nyoni.
The Minister of Women Affairs, Gender and Community Development, Nyasha Chikukwa could not attend due to other engagements but she delivered her speech via a video recording in which she spoke about giving women a stronger voice.
“This is a call for action that forces the world to realise that the issue of investing in women is not one person’s responsibility.
The Government, private sector and civic sector need to work together in order to invest in women, it only makes business sense to do so especially considering that women make up 52 percent of Zimbabwe’s population,” she said to rapturous applause from the audience.
Ms Chinake said a delegation of Zimbabwean women would be headed for Tanzania soon to explore business opportunities there.
Standing ovations were the order of the day as speaker after speaker raised issues of great importance to women’s empowerment and Africa’s development.
Among those who delivered sterling presentations were Pastor Abigail Magwenzi; Precious Murena-Nyika, the HR director at Lafarge; Amal tantawi, Lafarge’s chief executive officer; prominent media personality Ms Josey Mahachi; while Elizabeth Tiago, a breast cancer survivor, narrated her brave fight with the condition that she has since defeated.
Prior to the event, Ms Nyerere toured First Lady Amai Grace Mugabe’s orphanage in Mazowe and had breakfast with her.
She said that she had been overwhelmed by the welcome she got.
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