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C. Samba-Panza: Address to UPF-Africa “Peace Talks” Webinar

Address to UPF-Africa “Peace Talks” Webinar, July 4, 2020

When I received the invitation to participate in this webinar, I was pleasantly surprised to notice that the panel is made up of three former heads of states and two current heads of states.

May I, from the outset, pay special tribute to our illustrious heads of state who work relentlessly and tirelessly to tackle the Covid-19 pandemic head on to protect their populations and provide lasting wellbeing. I am referring particularly to H.E Uhuru Kenyatta, president of the Republic of Kenya, and H.E Julius Maada Bio, president of the Republic pf Sierra Leone [invited to webinar but unable to attend].

I also wish to pay a well-deserved tribute to the former presidents who have served their nations with total devotion and selflessness and who, even at the end of their mandate, are still involved in the advancement of noble causes. I wish to cite H.E. Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, former president of Nigeria, and H.E. Hery Rajaonarimampianina, former president of Madagascar.

Finally, I wish to express my utmost gratitude to the organizers of this webinar, particularly Mrs. Katherine Rigney, chair of UPF-Africa, and H.E. Dr. Goodluck Jonathan, Africa chair of the International Summit Council for Peace (ISCP).

I am honored to participate in this important discussion on our vision of the post Covid-19 era, following the numerous changes triggered by the pandemic on the economic and social spheres. I also wish to acknowledge Dr. Thomas Walsh in this webinar.

It is a pleasure for me to develop, together with you, and undertake the needed discussions to reflect on the scourge of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has rudely shaken the world out of its assurances and illusions. We realized that economic growth prospects and social circumstances have been affected, as well as practices and traditions through which we used to relate as human beings. Wherever we may find ourselves, whether we are males or females, we have rediscovered and been awoken, due to the pandemic, to the fact that we are all human beings. The various responses put forward to flatten the curve of the pandemic bear witness to the strength of the instinct of survival that is within individuals and communities when faced with danger.

 It is for this this reason that within our present circumstances, many thoughts are springing up within our spirits. We cannot help but ponder over the fate of our world in the face of this health crisis. We are all aware that the Covid-19 crisis has shaken the world, a world that is underpinned by the concept of globalization. However, the different lockdown measures taken here and there for diverse reasons, including economic reasons, demonstrate that the global economy gives pride of place to profit, at the detriment of the well-being of populations.

[In response to the question of the role of women’s leadership in the pandemic, H.E. Samba-Panza responded with the following remarks.]

The issue of women in leadership is one of the things I advocate for, on behalf of women. As we all know, women play a key role in their communities. Women play a crucial role in their families. They carry the weight of their families when it comes to education, guiding children, and support for the family. It is a fact we are all aware of. Unfortunately, sometimes, women are not included as much as needed, or as much as expected, for them to contribute efficiently. It is for this reason that a movement was birthed throughout the world, and also in Africa, to strive to promote gender equality and especially for women to emerge in all sectors and at all levels. This will allow women to contribute and participate in the building of their communities. We know that when women commit to something, they do so fully and in the interest of their families. It is for this reason that for several years, I have worked tirelessly to promote women’s leadership, and I do so with other women leaders.

We are engaging in this activism because we want women to come out of their various situations where they are left on the sidelines, as victims, to become full actors in the continent’s transformation.

This may be achieved through the UN Sustainable Development Goals and the African Union Agenda 2063. Women are mobilizing to let their presence be felt, not only economically but also on the social level. I have worked in this area because I began my activism with civil society and later became a leader in politics. Women who occupy political positions have a lot of responsibility, because they must lead other women towards an ideal and improve living conditions of not only women but also of their children and their entire community.

Going back to the issue of Covid-19, with this pandemic, we have observed the emergence of many women health personnel to take part, much more than ever, in responses that have been designed. You may be aware that in the health sector, many of the workers are women. They have been at the forefront of the fight against the pandemic.

There are many women organizations that operate with the civil society sector and that have been involved in sensitizing other women and vulnerable communities on preventive measures to combat effectively against the Covid-19 pandemic. It is for this reason that we insist on the importance and relevance of harnessing the role of women in leadership positions to involve them at all levels, in all the structures of the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. This is what I have to say about women in leadership positions.

[H.E. Samba-Panza offered these remarks at the close of the webinar:]

I would like to congratulate the International Summit Council for Peace (ISCP)-Africa and the Universal Peace Federation. We must get actively involved in peacebuilding. Peace helps to resolve crises and enables populations to coexist peacefully. Peace brings about sustainable development. In the absence of peace, nothing can be achieved. There can be no progress without peace. It is for this reason that when these institutions decided to host a webinar on peace, I considered that it was important that I participate fully because I believe that we need to involve youth in peace processes, we need to involve women as well. We need to instill them with the values and culture of peace. I think that the Universal Peace Federation and the international summit council for peace have a key role to pay, a great mission to realize.

To go back to the UPF-Africa Peace Talk article, click here.