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Get more girls to school, Kenyan official urges African women


The women from five different faiths launched an East African regional Mother’s Cry for a Healthy Africa campaign to empower women so they sang and danced – exhorting education for all girls.

"This initiative could not have come at more opportune time than now when some countries in Africa are healing from political unrest," Esther Mathege, Kenya’s minister for gender and children said at the 12 June launch in Nairobi’s Hindu Hall referring to conflict earlier this year in her own country.

She noted that man–made and natural disasters had adversely affected women in the region. "We should therefore use these painful experiences and challenges as lesson, as we endeavour to find lasting solutions."

Mathege urged women from present from Christian, Hindu, Ba’ahai, Muslim and Buddhism faith traditions to popularise women’s education.

"I wish to call on mothers in Africa to take their girls to school," said Mathege. "It is imperative more women are educated, if we are to secure more decision making positions,"”

The Mother’s Cry for a Healthy Africa campaign is a programme of the Interfaith Action for Peace in Africa initiative convened by the Lutheran World Federation. In 2002 Africa’s main faith traditions launched IFAPA at the first Interfaith Peace Summit in South Africa to recognise that religious leaders had a contribution to make to Africa’s development. The women’s campaign was launched in 2005.

"This was launched at continental level, but it has not reached the grass-roots," said Merab Mulindi, who coordinates the IFAPA women’s section in Nairobi, told Ecumenical News International. "The campaign will therefore be brought closer to women by being launched in the different regions of Africa."

The Rev. Ishmael Noko, the LWF’s general secretary and the IFAPA convenor saluted women as peace makers and educators.

"Their role has most of the time been unacknowledged or ignored. Not only should we involve women in our plea for a peaceful Africa, but we also have to empower them so that they can play a full role in getting Africa out of poverty and underdevelopment," said Noko.