International African Women’s Day

Officially launched on July 31, 1974, at the First Congress of the Pan-African Women’s Organization, held in Senegal, International African Women’s Day aims to improve the situation of women’s rights in Africa.

Since then, a number of African states have contributed to providing women with the means to promote their emancipation. Today, this day is intended to provide a moment for reflection and analysis on the evolution of women’s rights and gender equality. It is also an opportunity to continue raising awareness, identify new perspectives and develop advocacy to encourage governments to strengthen measures taken in favour of women’s empowerment.

Traditionally, African women have always played a leading role both in community life and in emergency such as floods, droughts, epidemics and wars.

She is also a major cog in the continent’s economy when we look at these data:

  • Women do 40% of agricultural work
  • They produce most of the food in Africa
  • They own a third of businesses

At the same time, the quota system has meant that 22.3% of parliamentarians in sub-Saharan Africa were women in 2015, compared with just 8% in 1995.

Despite this, African women face many challenges, regardless of their status in their respective societies. Even today, they face constraints in the exercise of their functions as entrepreneurs, managers or board members, which hinder the development of their full potential. The situation is no easier in rural areas, where they have to contend with dwindling natural resources and the major impacts of climate change. What’s more, they must continue to fight for land rights equal to those enjoyed by men.

Assuming a pivotal role in African society, women must demonstrate a great capacity for adaptability. In the current context, it is easy to understand the choice of the 2023 theme “Letter to my Earth” which is both a reminder of the actions taken by women and an invitation to continue efforts to preserve the environment, promote sustainable economic development and ensure food security.

Read the 2023 message in English and French. In many countries, including Canada, African women’s groups are organizing activities to celebrate this day.