Ladies and Gentlemen,
Organizers of the One World Media Award Ceremony,
Colleagues of the business of development,
Friends of the media,
Members of the private sector,
The African Development Bank's 'Women's Rights in Africa Award' is intended to recognize a media product that is either broadcast, digital, print, or film. The piece invariably shines a spotlight on an aspect of gender injustice on the African continent, advances the rights of Africa's women and girls, or highlights how the empowerment of women and girls can not only have a positive impact on development in Africa, but is the only thing that benefits the whole of society and transcends generations in its impact. Indeed there is no development tool more effective than the empowerment of women and girls.
This award is about so many inconvenient truths; truths that have become the unfinished business of the 21st century and whose burden it is for the current generation to close the gender gap and advance human progress once and for all.
In many developing countries today:
· Girls still do not have access to education, because the social, cultural, political and economic odds are stacked against them just because they are female.
· In Africa the women who make up 50% of the labor force in agriculture - and who for the most part feed Africa - own less than 2% of the land titles.
· Statistically, in the course of today, as we saw in Vicky's story, three women will have died as a result of domestic violence in South Africa alone... just because patriarchal norms and attitudes excuse or legitimize domestic violence as a private affair. Society has sleepwalked itself into collectively normalizing the epidemic of domestic violence against women.
Does anyone in this room understand that... or think it's acceptable?
I could go on and on --- and so, I'm sure, could many of you. But we're here to say something needs to be done to put an end to all forms of gender injustice. We do so for a number of reasons, but not the least simply because it's the right thing to do.
And beyond being the right thing to do - for the more cerebral among us, it's also the smart thing to do if we are to achieve our potential. It is indeed an economic imperative and that's why we at the African Development Bank are involved and committed to defending women's rights, as well as to promoting gender equity on the African continent. That is also why we are proud to be sponsoring the prestigious Women's Rights in Africa Award for the second consecutive year.
How does the African Development Bank advance the women's empowerment agenda? Our Gender Strategy works across our Ten Year Strategic objectives which we popularly call the High 5s: Light up and power Africa; Feed Africa; Integrate Africa; Industrialize Africa and Improve the quality of life of the people of Africa. The strategy seeks to:
(i) Strengthen Women's Legal Status and Property Rights;
(ii) Promote the Economic Empowerment of Women; and
(iii) Enhance Knowledge Management and Capacity Building.
It does so in ways closely linked with the issues raised here today by the three nominees.
And to the media let me say this: Your role goes beyond entertainment or information sharing - YOU have the power and the means to educate, to empower, and to inspire young girls to dare to break the mould, and (for instance) to become mechanics in a male dominated field of endeavor as shown in the documentary, ' My Nigeria - Sandra Aguebor: Lady Mechanic.'
You alone can show and tell the human story behind the 130 million women and girls worldwide who, according to the WHO, have suffered from FGM, as shown in the story, ' Meet the Two People Risking Everything to End This Crime against Women.' You can provoke debate on why only 3% of perpetrators are convicted despite tough laws on domestic abuse, as shown in 'Vicky's Story'.
Thank you for bringing us the stories of Oscar Pistorius and Reeva Steenkamp, Anni Dewani, Zanele Khumalo, and Dolly Tshabalala. But there are many more that don't get this degree of attention or make the news for more than a single broadcast.
And so, today we are reminded by these inspiring stories to believe in the future of possibility even though we have our work cut out for us. Better public investment and technical assistance can support the development of lady mechanics across Africa. High rates of violence against women and girls can be addressed through strict enforcement and adherence to laws and awareness raising. Today's nominees show the world that women's dreams don't have to die, that the obstacles that sometimes hold women back can become opportunities, and that something has to be done to ensure that young girls know early on that, alongside their brothers, they hold up HALF the SKY!
And the winner is.... VICKY'S STORY....