African Continent is blessed in every form. In no way does Africans’ ability to shoot for the star is at a disadvantage when compare with other continents. African Women are known for their enterprise spirit. Culture, religion and other societal demands might have dealt with the potentials of African women, but we still have outstanding African women who had gone through near death experience to become an icon. African Women must be praised because if they have half of the opportunities women in advanced world had, many would have gone far beyond their present levels.
African First Ladies are the set of privileged few whose husbands have become Head of States in their respective Countries. Like we know, issues facing women are better championed by women. When every hand is on the desk, it is easier to get the support of Men. No matter what we say, women are more powerful than men even if they are not in the helm of affairs. They wield a lot of influence on the family. When we check the records in Africa, most women who went to State Houses with their husbands are usually the hands that run the show behind the curtain.
These First Ladies may not control state budget or fund, but we all know how people lobbied them to get the attention of their husbands to secure one favour or the other. It is record that the position of First Ladies is not recognised in the law of most African Countries, yet the role of this office holder has not diminished in any way. Particularly when we put the search light on governance across Africa since late 1980s.
Many of the wives of African Presidents have a pet project or the other. Some of these are focused on the development of women and children related issues. The tragedy of most of these programmes though is that many of these projects die natural death as soon as their husbands leave the office. With this, it is not out of place to conclude that instead of this project to help in promoting women and children development issues, they are more like conduit pipes to drain from the public funds.
The challenge we have noticed is that there may be a possibility most of the African First Ladies are not passionate about this programme. Some of them were even unknown until their husbands came into limelight. So starting out a programme often become a necessity after their husbands become Head Of Governments. With development issues, no one can go far without innate passion.
The challenges of creating a worthwhile change in any development issues will drain the energy of a founder without passion. It requires more than having a fund at your disposal. It requires lots of strategy formulation, dedication, commitment. More importantly, it requires a lot of time to stick to the end of achieving a goal.
Since women are in better position to understand issue of women, African Men need to help their wives as they(Men) move ahead in life. It is not uncommon to see women sacrificing all as soon as they get married so that the man can grow. Marriage should not be allowed to destroy or truncate a woman’s vision and passion. It is the absence of this crucial support for womens’ potential that often lead men to consider marrying another wife who is ‘considered’ presentable and appropriate for his new level. For the few who can risk it, one wonders what happens to the brain of the wife when the man was making progress or struggling to gain political power. One must acknowledge also, some of these men who found themselves in power by accident also have nothing much to offer.
Today, we have different units of associations of African First Ladies. The two prominent ones are: Organizations of African First Ladies Against HIV/AIDS and Organizations of African First Ladies For Peace. First Ladies Against HIV was established in 2002 with Headquarters in Addis A baba. Despite these vantage organizations, several Women, New born, Maternal and Child Health are still suffering across Africa.
Being the First Ladies and the face of Women, one expects more from African First Ladies. In some cases, instead of reaching out to promote these essential issues, some of our First Ladies have become Government Contractors. They will rather use the exalted platforms and positions to position their immediate families financially. Unfortunately many of their immediate families are not rightly empowered to know how to run business, stand for rights of women or to become role models for others.
African First Ladies Against HIV/Aids, African First Ladies For Peace, African First Ladies and Women Potential Development” width=”300″ height=”193″ class=”alignleft size-medium wp-image-593″ />Every year, there is one summit of African First Ladies or the other to discuss issues affecting women and children, but unfortunately, such meetings are seen as one of the necessities of the office and not a platform that needs adequate preparation, planning and strong decision making at the end which will bring required changes to women in their respective Countries. As soon as Conferences end, everyone goes for shopping and return to status qou till the next call is made.
If the office of the African First Ladies must be maximised, used to promote Women , children and other development related goals, here are some recommendations which we think will help.
Let every man empowers his wife: Many women had been made to sacrifice all for their husbands as soon as they are married. Women in some cases are required to raise children, stay at home or do something that will make them have time for their families while the husband can go anywhere. Raising children and adequate positioning of the family should not longer be absolute responsibility of the woman. It should become a joint responsibility which will allow every gender to become what they want to be.
Women must have and preserve their vision: it is not uncommon to observe many womens’ vision and all their life goal is to settle down and mary a rich man or the one of their dreams. As soon as that is achieved, there is no more goal to run for. Parent must help their girlchild to develop life long goal which propels them to look beyond marriage. They must see themselves as an asset to the society. With this mindset, it is easy for them to make right choices in marriage. Women with great vision achieve more even after marriage than those who have none
Women must prepare themselves: Sometimes things do change. The man you marry today may eventually become a community or global leader of influence. What value will you bring to the table when that happens. Someone has rightly said it is easier for a man to mal-treat, send away a woman who brings not much value to her husband than the ones who work hard to ensure the life of her family and that of her husband are better.
Women should look beyond their families and see the larger societies as their plane of influence: Many women are shortsighted like their husbands when in power. They should start making communal impact as soon as they have opportunities. Let them also consider humanitarian act, community service as soon as they have opportunity. When they eventually have bigger opportunities to serve their Countries it will become easy. It is time for African First Ladies to see investment in Women, Children as a priority. They will be remembered in a positive way when they leave office.