——The First Ladies’ Summit, dubbed ‘Investing in women: Strengthening Africa’ has opened in Dar es Salaa, Tanzania, with a call from Tanzanian President, Jakaya Kikwete, on African countries to invest in women to enhance development.
The Summit, which is co-sponsored by the Bush Institute and ExxonMobil, is also being attended by United States First Lady, Michelle Obama, Former United States First Lady, Laura Bush, and Former British Prime Minister’s Wife, Cherie Blair.
Zambia’s First Lady, Christine Kaseba, who arrived in Tanzania this morning, also attended the official opening of the conference.
Other First Ladies from African countries who attended the Summit include Ethiopia’s Roman Tesfaye, Mozambique’s Maria Guebuza, Sierra Leone’s Sia Nyama Karoma and Uganda’s Janet Museveni, South Africa’s Nomumelelo Zuma and host First Lady, Salma Kikwete.
President Kikwete noted that investing in women and ensuring that they are empowered economically benefits the country as a whole.
“The theme of this summit has come at a right time. Women are the backbone of the family, so investing in women is not optional but a matter of priority,” he said.
He noted that women play critical roles in the development of the country as they look after children, ensuring that children are healthy and educated, hence the need for the women to be empowered.
President Kikwete noted that despite the important contribution that women make, they are the most affected by poverty as they do not control the wealth they create, adding that women still have problems in accessing health care.
“Investing in women will also help them access quality health care, education and access to credit. Once they are empowered, countries will be assured of food security, increased productivity and improved health resulting in the development of the country,” he noted.
Mr Kikwete noted that in Africa women work more than men and commended women for the multiple roles they play in wealth creation.
And Tanzanian First Lady, Salma Kitwete, said the theme ‘Investing in women strengthening Africa’ was relevant to the needs of African communities as it was considering three themes which are significant to the wellbeing of the African women.
Mrs Kikwete said the themes are education, entrepreneurship and innovation and health, adding that the summit will provide an opportunity to exchange experiences and share best practices.
She said the summit will also provide an opportunity for the First Ladies to visit some model sites, among them Ocean Road Cancer Institute CCBRT Hospital and Mabinti Centre to help showcase Tanzanians efforts towards transformation of its communities.
And speaking during the same function United States former First Lady, Laura Bush, said advancing women’s economic empowerment, health and education is imperative to development.
Mrs Bush said the inclusion of women in all areas of society increases stability and prosperity of countries as investment in women results in better outcomes for entire families, communities and nations.
And in a conversation between the Former United States First lady and United States First Lady Michelle Obama moderated by Cokie Roberts, Mrs Obama called on First Ladies to speak up on important issues that affect their countries to help address the challenges being faced in their countries.
Mrs Obama said women are endowed with power, passion and are unique and can help bring a difference in their countries.
She also appealed to parents to invest in education equally among boys and girls.
“I came from a family where my parents did not have much money, but they invested in my brothers and my education equally. That is why I am where I am today,” she said.