Vice President Addresses Women's Forum in Dakar

Tuesday, 11th December 2007
Vice President Boakai addresses forum as Senegalese First Lady Viviane Wade (seatedright) and Sierra Leonean First Lady seated left, look on.
Vice President Boakai addresses forum as Senegalese First Lady Viviane Wade (seatedright) and Sierra Leonean First Lady seated left, look on.
Photo Credit: Office of the Vice President
Dakar, Senegal - The Vice President of Liberia Joseph N Boakai has challenged African women to take the cue from President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and change Africa.

He noted that women have immense powers, saying: "The time has come for you to transform Africa with the men by your side".

He made the call Monday night at a dinner tendered by the international women NGO, Femmes Africa Solidarite (FAS) in the Senegalese capital Dakar. The dinner was part of a two-day African Gender Forum and Award 2007 FAS is hosting on the theme : "African Women for Africa's development: Building partnerships with the Diaspora". The forum ends today Tuesday, December 12.

He informed the women that the election of President Johnson Sirleaf was not a "token", but was based on her qualification, competence and commitment to make life better for Liberians.

"President Johnson Sirleaf did not just get up to win an election. She stood the test of time. She was jailed several times and chased out of her country  by past regimes because of her position on social justice," Vice President Boakai emphasized.

Vice President Boakai said the Liberian leader, Africa's first female president, has always said she sought the nation's highest office so that she can "prove that women can excel and perform, and leave a legacy that will lead to respect for all women".

He cited the achievements of the Johnson Sirleaf-led government in just two years, including the restoration of the country's image from a failed state to a respected country within the comity of nations, and the cancellation of most of Liberia's US$4.7 billion debt.

He also said President Sirleaf has as one of her major goals the empowerment of girls and women, from the granting of scholarships for girls education to extension of micro-credit to very poor women to build their businesses and generate income.

Empowerment of marketers, he added, also includes the construction and refurbishing of damaged market buildings with school and medical facilities for marketers and their children.

Also addressing the forum, Foreign Minister Olubanke King Akerele challenged women both from Africa and Europe to play a major role in containing migration which is assuming alarming proportions.

Mrs. Akerele described 'migration' as a major test that the world will have to face due to wars and natural disasters.

She said while she was commerce minister, she started a program to assist Liberian women by extending to them huge loans to enable them upgrade their businesses.

The Liberian foreign minister commended Femmes Africa Solidarite for helping to bring peace to Liberia, and for its continued support to the country.

The First Lady of Senegal, Viviane Wade also addressed the forum on the need to fight Sicle Cell Anemia which cause she is championing as first lady of Senegal.

The Co-founder and Executive Director of the African Women's Development Fund (AWDF), Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi pledged her organization's continued support the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf led government.

She said her organization has raised US$500,000 to support Liberian women and marketers and build vocational centers to empower Liberian women.

"We wish to challenge all women to keep their promises so that in the next ten years, we will get more Ellens," Madam Adeleye-Fayemi added.

At the dinner, videos depicting the Sicle Cell Anemia situation in Senegal and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf's interaction with Liberian marketers and strive to improve markets in Liberia, were screened.

The dinner was also graced by Sierra Leone's First Lady, Sia Koroma who said she will champion the fight against HIV/AIDS in her country, and South African musician Yvonne Chaka Chaka who is expected to perform this evening at the close of the women's forum.

The forum ends Tuesday evening with Vice President Boakai delivering a major address.