“Bring African Women to the center of the picture and not marginalize them.” Theo Sowa
Hello! It’s Women in History Month 19, 2014 and we are so excited, we’re rolling out one of our favorites, Theo Sowa, CEO of the African Women’s Development Fund.
Her mission – Women’s Rights and Philanthropy – somewhat parallels the mission of the British and U.S. suffragettes nearly 200 years ago. Fortunately for the millions of oppressed women in Africa, Theo is at the helm and she is driven and passionate for their cause.
Unlike some of the pioneering suffragettes, i.e. Emmeline Pankhurst, Theo does not resort to violence or mayhem to garner support. As you can see by this photo and accompanying video. Theo is intelligent, calm, graceful, kind, beautifully spoken and knows how to rock a drop-dead gorgeous dress like it’s nobody’s business. I mean, look at that dress. We LOVE it. We WANT it. Do you think it comes in a petite?
This feminist does not sacrifice one fleck of femininity in her quest for women’s rights.
Another difference between suffragettes and the African Women’s Development Fund is the meaning of women’s rights. Suffragettes sought rights to vote run for office, equal pay, etc. All excellent causes. The African Women’s Development Fund focuses more on basic survival. From there, it branches into issues of family health, safety and economic stability.
If you have time – and we hope you do – watch this 18-minute TED video featuring Theo Sowa. We’ll summarize here a bit.
Theo opens by saying a few years ago, she attended a Toronto-based conference on the HIV-AIDS pandemic and its effect on African Women, right up her alley, right? What Theo was “stunned” to see, or not see, at the conference, was the lack of African women on panels. Not a single panel on African women included an African woman.
“If the voices of African women are not part of the discussion, they are not part of the decision-making,” Theo says.
Isn’t this much like preventing women from helping shape their governments by denying them the vote? We see the parallel.
Perhaps it was an organizational oversight. Theo does not let organizers off easily. The one African woman invited, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, could not make it, too busy running Liberia.
Theo goes on to say that there are millions of other qualified African women available to speak on behalf of the millions of other African women. She shared 6 for starters.
Felicia Darkwa lost an adult daughter to childbirth, under conditions that should have been prevented. After grieving, Felicia spearheaded a campaign for maternal and prenatal health. Besides saving hundreds of lives in her native Ghana, Felicia has helped reshape the care given in medical centers.
Giselle Yitamben helps pull women out of poverty by teaching them to build wealth using their existing resources.
Ida Mukuka experienced severe violence and developed HIV-AIDS. She uses her dreadful experiences to help others with HIV-AIDS and the orphans who lost parents to the disease.
Bisi Adeleye-Fayemi, Joanna Foster and Hilda Tadria are philanthropists and members of the First Pan African Women’s Rights Organization. Already they have distributed more than $19 million in grants to assist women in 42 African countries.
We so appreciate Theo taking center stage to speak out on behalf of African women so they may have a voice regarding their health, global development and basic rights.
Many thanks, xo LMA
p.s. March 22 is World Water Day!!! Start making plans now!!! Can’t wait!!!
p.s.s. Today is the last day of winter!!!!!
p.s.s.s. I’m on Facebook, Look me up at Louisa May Alcatt!!!
p.s.s.s.s. enough of the !!!!!!!!