Recently I was asked by an organization in Italy to spearhead
here in the United States an initiative that they were launching.
Having lived in Italy for 30 years and having worked on
television there, I am frequently asked to sustain different
causes. In all my years of social work and contributing to
various causes, never had I felt my heart jump with joy like
when I heard about the "Walking Africa" campaign.
The CIPSI and ChiAma L'Africa propose to launch an
international campaign that results in the presentation of the
Nobel Peace Prize 2011 to African women as a whole -- a
The proposal is rooted to the fact that African women have,
over the years, assumed a pivotal role in everyday life in Africa.
These women are leaders in diverse facets of life ranging from
household tasks to social and political activities. The women
of Africa provide for their families by toiling, even during
emergency situations, to guarantee that the cycle of life can
continue unabated. For decades these women have been
contributing to the African micro financial system: ranging
from the historical West African tontines to the microcredit
initiatives throughout Africa which have facilitated the
foundation of thousands of small enterprises. African women
are active in the management of economic activities. There are
thousands of women's cooperatives occupied with
agricultural, trade and educational activities. African women
also play an increasing role in new native types of social and
economic ventures. They are also resolutely engaged in
healthcare, providing assistance as well as
information to increase awareness of the HIV virus and
malaria in their villages. What's more, they struggle against the
brutal tradition of genital mutilation.
They are firmly committed to the establishment of peace --
despite being exposed to incessant discrimination and human
rights violations -- through a clear political commitment not
often recognized. The belief is that the humble woman of
Africa and the pivotal role that she plays can help pave the
reconstruction of a more just humane society.
Last month, I flew back to Europe where I had the opportunity
to meet and interview 10 enterprising African women all
hailing from different countries who were caravanning through
Europe to speak at various press junkets. We all met shortly
before we were to make our presentations at European
Parliament and again at the Department of Foreign Affairs in
Their stories were vast and some tragic it brought me to tears,
but not one of them even in the most passionate of moments
in their recounts of horrible tragedies cried. My sense was
that they had been through so much they didn't have any tears
left... but their dignity was untouchable.
These colorfully dressed, extremely gracious, and
highly educated women came with their message of strength
and hope for their respective countries and Africa as a whole.
They came to ask for collaborative efforts from the European
Union in helping African women entreprenurs. They came
wanting freedom... freedom from oppression, freedom of
choice and of voice.
It's time that African women are heard. It's time that
African women are helped. It's time that African
are heralded. It is my greatest hope is that African
women will indeed be given a Nobel Peace Prize as it
would signify a life changing event to not only African
women but all women... as a collective.