The African Union Diaspora Africa Forum (AU/DAF) in collaboration with The United Nations Women has held an event in New York to award African Women of Excellence. It was to celebrate and honour women who have made significant global contributions that have positively impacted the lives of African women and women of African Descent.
The awardees received the covetous Women of Excellence Awards at an Exquisite Awards Gala dinner held at the Warwick Hotel in New York. Three distinguished women, Nana Rita Marley, H.E. Ambassador Joy Ogwu and Ms. Xernona Clayton received The African Women of Excellence Living Legend Award, while Ghanaian-born Julia Sarkodie-Mensah and eight others received the African Women of Excellence Awards. Mrs. Sarkodie-Mensah lives and works in Botswana.
On September 11, 2015, the awardees convened at the United Nations for a discussion on global African women’s issues, and the Sustainable Development Agenda. The discussions were chaired by H.E. Dr. Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Executive Director of UN Women, former Deputy President of South Africa and H.E. Dr. Erieka Bennett, Head of AU/DAF. They discussed their lives journeys and imparted strategies with female mentees who were present, and who also shared their experiences. Ghanaian-born Justice Sarkodie-Mensah urged the mentees to climb the ladder of excellence and to be committed to their vision. She reiterated that the fight for women’s equality and empowerment is for everyone and not just women. “We need to take the men along”, she said.
She indicated that sustainable development in Africa hinges on the empowerment and inclusion of women, sound judicial systems, the rule of law and good governance and called on the African Union to ensure that there is a priority agenda for judicial reform and access to quality justice in Africa, because without quality justice, there will be no peace, and without peace, the Sustainable Development Agenda will be difficult to achieve. “There is an urgent need to promulgate enforceable legislation which will ensure women’s inclusion and empowerment” she stated, on the AU Agenda 2063.
Mrs. Sarkodie-Mensah dedicated her Award to the fight against sexual and gender-based violence throughout the world and especially in Africa. She made a call to all peace loving people who have mothers, sisters, grandmothers, wives, aunties, nieces to rise and condemn sexual and gender-based violence and all harmful practices against women. “Together, we shall give voice to the voiceless and fight impunity.”