Africa Day is an annual commemoration of the founding of the Organization of African Unity (OAU) on the 25th of May 1963 in Adis Ababa by the leaders of 30 out of 32 independent African countries. The organization is today known as the Africa Union (AU). The aim of the organization was to celebrate unity, create a platform for countries to collectively address the challenges they had faced such as armed conflicts and poverty. Each year during the month of May, the entire continent and Embassies all over the world get together to celebrate the commemoration of the organization. The celebration is today known as ‘Africa Day’.
In Stockholm, Sweden, the event took place on the 28th of May 2015
Africa Day Celebration
Stockholm, Sweden May 2015
and was hosted by a collective of African Embassies present in Sweden under the leadership of the Dean of the Group of African Ambassadors. The 2015 celebration brought together many Heads of Diplomatic Missions, members from the Swedish Government, non-governmental organizations, artists, African fashion designers as well as individuals who joined in Sweden for the celebration.
The theme for 2015 celebration was ‘women empowerment and development towards Africa’s agenda 2063’. The day was marked by speeches, diverse cultural dance performances, fashion parade, as well as live music performances by invited guest artists. There was also a segment that showcased some prominent and influential African women who made great contribution towards women empowerment in the entire continent.
Speaking at the opening ceremony was the Dean of the African Group of Ambassadors who, during his speech said women play a vital role in politics and should not be left behind. He also insisted on the fact that more attention should be on women’s rights, especially those in the post-conflict countries.
Also speaking during the ceremony was the guest of honor, Swedish Minister of International Development and Cooperation, H.E Ms Isabella Lövin, who in her speech said although women have achieved some great influences during the past years, they still make up a majority of the world’s poorest people. That in many countries women don’t have the right to inheritance. In some continents like Africa she added that women make up almost 70% of agricultural production but they only own 2% of the land. She also gave some statistical studies about women who are still subjected to violence by their husbands or someone else, that they still die of child birth and some deprived from their political lives, economic empowerments and access to health. She insisted that this clearly indicates that 'the struggle for gender equality is not a soft issue; it is a matter of live and death'.
A special invited scholar for the event was Professor Beth M Ahlberg from Uppsala University who gave a general impression on the progress made by women in relation to development and equality. Although the progress that women have achieved so far is significant, she insisted that a lot still needs to be done. In an interview she told us that the African Union finally declared 2015 a year for women development and empowerment going towards agenda 2063. This she said was to provide evidence about what has been done and what still needs to be done.
In another interview with us, the Egyptian Ambassador to Sweden H.E Wael Nasr expressed the unique influence of women in the Egyptian democratization process and the historic role they have played in Egypt throughout time. He noted that Egyptian women are getting their rights and within their cultures and values, women are getting better positions and conditions every day in the country. The ambassador also said there are still many things that need to be done in order to promote women achievements. He said a persistent challenge in Egypt is to enhance education all over the country.
The day ended with presentation of gifts and awards to some prominent Africans in Stockholm, a live performance by the musician Teta Diane, from Rwanda. The guests also enjoyed an open buffet dinner with diverse dishes from the different African countries.
The closing remark was given by the Kenyan Ambassador Dr Joseph Sang.