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Incredible Women Don’t Just Happen: AWDF’s 15th Anniversary

Women like Winnie Mandela and Leymah Gbowee don't just happen. They are made by resistance and they are made by community. The women's equality movement on the Continent has resulted in the passing of several

Women like Winnie Mandela and Leymah Gbowee don’t just happen. They are made by resistance and they are made by community. The women’s equality movement on the Continent has resulted in the passing of several legislative changes protecting the rights of women as well as the economic empowerment of our sisters, mothers and daughters surviving the pervasive scandal of gender inequality on the continent.

When Ebola crises and terrorist crises hit, it is the women who preserve and sustain the children, families and communities. Women are preserving the Continent in often quiet and un-sung ways.

Before Leymah Gbowee won the Nobel Peace Prize, she was a feminist pounding the pavement in Liberian cities. The community of women around her gave her the courage and the boldness to take change by force, by standing with her when no one else would.

The community and organization at the forefront of the African women’s liberation movements is the African Women’s Development Fund, a philanthropy that supports the activities of African Women activists throughout the African continent with funding, training, healing and many other resources.

AWDF has provided 28 million dollars to 1200 organizations in 42 African countries

This organization, which has built up so many celebrated women leaders, commemorated its 15th anniversary this week at the United Nations headquarters with the founders, supporters and patrons. Guests of the invite-only celebration could register to receive gold and silver copies of the AWDF Sheroes album. Sheroes is a music compilation of donated tracks by the Continent’s foremost women performers: Angelique Kidjo, Somi, Nneka, Omawumi, Maame Afon- Yelbert Obeng, Yvonne Chaka Chaka and many others. Highlights of the event were the powerful vocal performance of Maame Afon-Yelbert Obeng and moving speeches by Leymah Gbowee, AWDF CEO Theo Sowa and others.

Leymah Gbowee speaks at AWDF 15th Anniversary

Leymah Gbowee speaks at AWDF 15th Anniversary

The AWDF USA chair, Abena P A Busia, also spoke about the beginnings of the organization when no one thought it was possible for three African Women to build one of the Continent’s biggest homegrown grant-making organizations; and highlighted triumphs like the organization of HIV positive women in Ghana who were able to rebuke the stigma and preserve their hope by purchasing their own residential building with funds from AWDF.

AWDF is committed to restructuring the narrative on the role of African women, and empowering us to enjoy life fulfillment in equal parts to men. In the last 15 years since it’s inception as the first woman-run African grant-making body, AWDF has provided 28 million dollars to 1200 organizations in 42 African countries.

As the AWDF CEO stated, “Until the last African woman has the same rights as every man on the continent, we have work to do.”

Ololade Siyonbola
Brooklyn x Lagos – Ololade is a proud village woman, author, techie and entrepreneur. She is the founder of the Yoruba Cultural Institute and Nollywood Diaspora Film Series.
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