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GLOBAL MOVEMENT FOR A CULTURE OF PEACE

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Samba-Panza’s election represents a bright future for African women in politics
an article by Krista Ritterhoff for Cistern Yard (abridged)

Last Monday, Central African Republic chose a leader the people believe can pull the country out of its destructive downward spiral. The leader the people of this troubled nation look to with great and hopeful expectations may come as a surprise. Her name is Catherine Samba-Panza – and yes, she is a woman.


photo from http://afriquenewsblog.wordpress.com/

click on photo to enlarge

Samba-Panza was chosen over several other candidates to tackle the tough job of bringing security back to a country that has been plagued by violence and chaos since December 2012. While most headlines about the country mention mass killings, rapes, public executions and religious conflict, Samba-Panza’s election offers a glimpse of positivity and hopefulness for Central African Republic. Although some of the world may look skeptically at the nation’s decision to put a woman at the helm, the choice makes perfect sense to those who have lived through conflict. “Everything we have been through has been the fault of men,” said Maria-Louise Yakemba, the leader of a civil society organization in the country. “We think that with a woman, there is at least a ray of hope.” Even Samba-Panza herself has said that her “sensibility as a woman” will be one of the most important tools she will use in bringing the country back from the brink.

Central African Republic is not the only nation that sees this sensibility in a leader as the key to a more secure future. In 2012, Malawi elected their first female president Joyce Banda, and in the same year Senegal elected their first female prime minister. Liberia recently re-elected their female president for a second term, and in Rwanda – a country infamous for its violent history – women hold 64 percent of the parliamentary seats. Another huge sign of a positive movement for women is that the African Union now has a female chair for the first time in its history.

The recent surge of women gaining political power speaks to the success of many women’s groups and movements throughout Africa. Women’s group activism in democratization and politics has led them to become politically dominant in many countries, but these groups have grown powerful by working out of government. Because of the corruption and sexism that has plagued many political regimes in Africa, they independently developed their own resources and followings. . . .

Some of the world’s poorest and most downtrodden countries have broken from tradition and chosen a new direction of leadership. As our country seems to be moving backward in terms of gender equality, maybe it is time for the western world to learn a lesson from Africa and celebrate a more active role for women in politics. The women of Africa are blazing a trail through new territory and their voices are being heard all across their continent. Now it’s just time for the rest of the world to hear them as well.

DISCUSSION

Question(s) related to this article:


Do women have a special role to play in the peace movement?,

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Latest reader comment:

The 30 articles in CPNN linked to this question make it clear that women indeed have a special role to play in the peace movement.  See the following for an historical explanation of why this is true.


This report was posted on January 25, 2014.