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Sunday, March 9, 2008
A presentation speech by Eucharia Mbachu to The International Ethiopian Women’s Organization on Washington DC

March 8-9 2008 in commemoration of International Women’s Day

Dear Distinguished Ladies, mothers, wives and sisters and Gentle men.

It is my honor standing before you today to add a voice to the plights of women and children in Africa.

I sincerely thank Dr. Abebe Fekade and her organization for giving me this opportunity to join my voice to this great struggle women face daily in Africa.

We are all here today because of a common goal, a common vision, and a common pride that unite African women together. Because we have heard the call for change, a call to take action, a call of courage to tell our leaders that yes we can change our future, yes we can take control. Yes, we can look beyond gender discrimination and inequality. And yes we can be agents of peace in our families, communities and in Africa as a whole.

Lots are going on in the lives of African Women , professionally and domestically, theses issues are familiar and similar problems to each woman in the continent, although I must add that the weight is not equal in all the countries. Some encounter lesser difficulties than others. However, women especially in the rural villages face starvation, diseases, poverty, and illiteracy everyday. What is amazing to me though is the strength and willingness of these women to see the best in the most horrible and deplorable situations any human being can live. Sometimes I wonder how do they do it. I had seen it and I had felt it. When all you can see you around you, is darkness in the midst of bright lights of the day, when the rainbows are dancing in the brightest of the skies, all you could see is just hopelessness.

Africa is the most tormented continent. This existential condition which has made Africa and her peoples the pitied and the marginalized in world affairs cannot be ignored by Africans themselves. There are numerous African organizations in the world today and their range of activities cover the entire landscape of humanitarian efforts and peace-making programs to heal the weak and diseased bodies of their people and to reduce the damaging effects of the bullets employed by competing political factions. It is indeed against this background that I address you today.

Yes, we have got issues with our leaders who relegate and dismiss us as doomed cultures without any prospect for peace -building and nation -building or as contributors and forces and voices for change. It is true also that there is political instability in that continent, domestic violence. Millions of people had lost their lives through wars caused by bad governance and greedy and insensitive leaders. But, ehe! We are ready to bounce back and take our rightful place in the society.

After over forty years of independence in most African countries although Ethiopia was never colonized, African nations are still struggling to develop political systems that are acceptable to their people. Democracy in Africa is practically non-existence. There is a great deal of political immaturity among our leaders and this irresponsible behavior has penetrated into the very fabric of our everyday life. It is seen in our families, at schools, in the greediness of businessmen and women, in governments and in churches. The general song of the people is the survival of the fittest. Every corner of the society is corrupted, and this is how we are in this game of political gimmick. The consequences are what we see in the streets of most African countries where homeless mothers, sometimes with one, leg or one hand, or completely blind begging. Some with their young ones cling so tightly at the back of their mothers as last hope. A mother and her child are tossed into the deep sea because of societal indifference toward women and their children. Some of these women had been raped, not once but twice, and who knows how many times.

I tell you a story, I have couple of kids we rescued from the streets and put them in foster homes where they are now attending school and living normal lives. Two of these kids were born in the street. One has two brothers and a sister; they are all homeless including their mother. The other kid I met was also in the similar situation. My question then is, how does a homeless woman keep giving birth in the street? Who is responsible, who takes care of her, where is the man or the men who got her pregnant? Friends, these are some of the issues facing us as African women. We need to take action and defend the defenseless. Lots of women had lost their lives during childbirth, AIDS/HIV, high blood pressure, just name it. The number keeps multiplying. This situation could be prevented if we only show some concern. Children are dying because of common aliments.

Most mothers in Africa barely make it through the day. Yet some of them are the pillars of their respective families, this is to say, bread winners of their families. Some of them lost husbands through AIDS and as a result became heads of their families without any visible means of livelihood. Little children have to drop out of schools to support their mothers by selling peanuts, bread, meat or what ever they can to help their families. Often they carry all these on their heads walking miles and miles per day, sometimes without food or water and some have been raped.
With all these burdens on the shoulders of these women, yet our governments do not care. The stubbornness of the so-called political leaders has pushed women at their very last nerves. Such actions are both down-grading and unacceptable.

Here is the good news, we can do this, dear friends, we are not going to take this nonsense any longer. Our voices are getting louder and must be heard. We are going to raise them on the mountain tops, in the streets, in our homes, and in our offices and churches. We are going to have impact in national development and in nation- building. With our voices, women are going to get the respect they deserve. We are going to achieve this by coming together as we are doing here today and let they world hear us loud and clear that we are taking actions, actions that will bring about hope for the future generation of Africans.

Fellow women, we have a call to answer. We do not need to be ministers, ambassadors, or power brokers, or have millions in our bank accounts before we can make our voices felt here and everywhere.

Let’s take action and it begins right here, right now, please turn to the woman sitting next to you and tell her: “You are the voice and change we have been waiting for.”
Dear friends, where ever you are, whoever you are, you are that voice we have been waiting for. The voice of change.

May God Bless Africa and her friends.

social justice and economic development



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