African Union Heads of State Summit and CARMMA High-Level Event


Breakfast side-event

High-level event examines improving health for young African women

ADDIS ABABA - The World YWCA UN Women, Urgent Action Fund-Africa, Action Aid International, PMNCH, Girls Not Brides, Femme Afrique Solidarite, Angie Brooks Centre and other partners organized a series of events on the role of young women in the African renaissance and the post MDG process during the Summit. The week’s activities culminated in an intergenerational dialogue between 50 young women and Africa’s woman leaders and mentors.

Speaking at the event President of Malawi, H.E. Mrs Joyce Banda and H.E. Dr Michelle Bachelet, Executive Director of UN Women, Dr Kate Gilmore, Deputy Executive of UNFPA, Zimbabwean Minister of Gender, Dr. Olivia Nchena representing H.E. Vice President of Zimbabwe, previous Minister of Finance of Liberia, Dr Olubanke King Akerele and H.E. Mrs Ban, wife of the UN Secretary General all exhorted the young girls to strive for excellence, to assert themselves and permeate the decision making spheres with an eye towards creating opportunities for other young girls.

Speakers recognized the importance of investing in girls education including comprehensive sexuality education, reducing the prevalence of child marriage, addressing violence against women and promoting economic empowerment as key strategies. The young women present called on the AU to adopt a resolution to end child marriage.


H.E. President Joyce Banda
  • “Draw your mission statement. Nobody told me to do this until I was 29. Your mission statement will guide you in your efforts. My mission is to promote economic empowerment of women.
  • “It is not the degrees, it is what you do with the education you have acquired once you leave the classroom.
  • “You are not a leader if you don't mentor young women.”
Beatrice Sawadje – young woman
  • “We are tired of being statistics. We are tired of raped in our homes and forced to look our perpatrators in the eye on the bus. We are tired of being married young. We are tired of being disempowered.”
Michelle Bachelet
  • "Africa is living an important moment. There is optimism about the future, poverty is declining and progress is being made…to me you are the African Renaissance.”
  • CARMMA’s objectives at global, continental and national levels are to:
    • Enhance political leadership and commitment
    • Identify and work with national champions to mobilize support and participation
    • Raise and maintain awareness and responses
    • Build linkages with global campaigns that seek to ensure the establishment of new and innovative financing mechanisms and the appointment by the UN Secretary General of an advocate for the reduction of maternal mortality
    • Promote the recognition of maternal mortality as a key indicator of a well-functioning health system
    • Promote knowledge-sharing and replication of experiences and good practices to significantly reduce maternal mortality.
  • At the July 2010 AU Summit, the Heads of States and Governments reaffirmed commitments to accelerate efforts to improve women’s and children’s health through the CARMMA by “Strengthening the health system to provide comprehensive, integrated, maternal, newborn and child health care services, in particular through primary health care, repositioning of family planning including reproductive health commodities security, infrastructure development and skilled human resources for health.”1
Mahmoud F. Fathalla, renowned African obstetrician2
  • "Women are not dying because of illnesses we cannot treat. Women are dying because society has yet to decide that their lives are worth saving.”

1 Assembly of the Union Fifteenth Ordinary Session, 25 – 27 July 2010 Kampala, Uganda. Actions on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health and Development in Africa by 2015.
2 Mahmoud F. Fathalla, MD, PhD. Human rights aspects of safe motherhood. Best Practice & Research Clinical Obstetrics & Gynaecology Volume 20, Issue 3 , Pages 409-419, June 2006. (05) 00169-0/abstract.