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backs Zim women to take Michelle Obama vision forward
June 24, 2011
The United States
has backed five Zimbabwean women who met First Lady Michelle Obama
at the Young African Women's Leaders Forum in South Africa
June 21-22. The Americans have charged the Zimbabweans with taking
Obama's vision for robust leadership by young African women
forward and promised long term relationships with them as it broadens
its engagement with African countries, a senior U.S. State Department
official said on Thursday.
were five young women participants from Zimbabwe . . . I know that
they are bringing back the determination to help women gain a foothold
on business, and to start mentoring programs that will give women
some additional skills and a head start on fully realizing their
dreams," said Bruce Wharton, Deputy Assistant Secretary of
State for African Affairs during a tele-press conference with African
journalists hosted by the Embassy's Public Affairs Section
Five young Zimbabwean
women participated in the Forum. They are Grace Chirenje, coordinator
of the Zimbabwe Young Women's Network for Peace Building;
Sipho Moyo, director of the non-governmental organization ONE; Brendah
Nyakudya, columnist with the online news website Daily Maverick;
Precious Simba, Group Operations Manager for Spar Supermarket's
southern region in Zimbabwe; and Robyn Kriel, journalist with the
South African television channel eTV.
to give this group of young women leaders a way to push their ideas
forward to carry this into the future," said Wharton. "It
is important for them to understand that this is a long term commitment
by the United States to the people of Africa . . . and by offering
small grants to them, it makes that real. We trust the young women
who are here to take these grants to use them for the development
of the larger community."
The five were
part of 75 young women leaders who attended the Young African Women
Leaders Forum June 21-22 in Johannesburg organized by the U.S. Department
of State, the U.S. Embassy in South Africa, the U.S. Agency for
International Development (USAID), and the White House. The forum
explored themes of leadership and community service to promote the
role of women in all spheres of life. Participants were African
women ranging in age from 17 to 30 and drawn from diverse professions
including education, health, civil society, business and the media.
In her key note
address, the First Lady urged young African leaders to combat hunger,
fight to end HIV/AIDS, and take a stand for women's rights.
be the generation that brings opportunity and prosperity to forgotten
corners of the world and banishes hunger from this continent forever.
You can be the generation that ends HIV/AIDS in our time- the generation
that fights not just the disease, but the stigma of the disease,
the generation that teaches the world that HIV is fully preventable
and treatable, and should never be a source of shame," Obama
said June 22 during her keynote address to the U.S.-sponsored Young
African Women Leaders Forum, held in Soweto's famous Regina
In her speech,
Obama cited South Africa-based Zimbabwean journalist, Robyn Kriel,
for her dedication to her profession despite harassment by authorities
a young reporter from Zimbabwe who has written about corruption
and human rights abuses in her country. She was beaten by police;
her home raided; her mother imprisoned. But she still hasn't
lost her passion for reporting, because, as she put it, the people
of Zimbabwe 'want their stories to be told,'"
Obama is scheduled
to travel June 24 to Gaborone, Botswana, where she will meet with
President Ian Khama, visit a children's clinic and take a private
safari with her family before returning to Washington June 26.
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