Women’s Group Pays Tribute to Heroine

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By Emma Kakololo WINDHOEK ONE of the continent’s oldest organisations for women, the Pan-African Women’s Organisation (PAWO) last week paid tribute to one of its founder members, the late Putuse Appolus who died in exile before independence. At the beginning of a two-day extended General Secretariat meeting, it was stated that it was PAWO’s first deputy secretary general, the late Appolus’ wish that her remains be brought back to her motherland upon the country’s independence. “If I die in some countries that I cannot name, please take my remains to Zambia. After the independence of my country, I want my remains to be taken back to Namibia,” were the aspirations she keenly shared with her fellow comrades, PAWO’s present secretary general Assetou Koite and Ellen Musialela, one of the few people present at the time she died. Established on July 31, 1962, PAWO played a significant role in building African unity and solidarity during a crucial period in the struggle to free the continent from colonialism. PAWO was established before even the formation of the Organisation of African Union (OAU) now the African Unity (AU). “Being the first, we should not allow ourselves to be swallowed up,” Minister of Information and Broadcasting Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah urged delegates as they started gathering for the two-day meeting to look into ways on how to shape the organisation to meet present challenges in the fight against poverty, renewal of Africa and emancipation of women among others. “We need to refocus PAWO so that it can be able to work with the new chapters that have been set up, the AU and Nepad,” echoed South African Bathabile Dlamini, PAWO Regional Secretary for Southern Africa. She was optimistic that from the South African perspective, the organisation stands a good chance to achieve its ultimate goal to get the recognition it deserves not only because PAWO comes a long way, but that all South African women irrespective of their political backgrounds have expressed their support. South Africa will host PAWO Congress in July 2006. “Our meeting is taking place at the right time. We African women have a lot to celebrate. “The year 2005 will be recorded in the history of our mother Africa as a year for women. “It also came at a time that for the first time in the history of great Africa, we have a woman as a president, Her Excellency Mama Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia, who is recently democratically elected and has become an African woman icon and this is a reason for us to celebrate,” said Swapo Party Women’s Council (SPWC) Secretary Eunice Iipinge. SPWC became founding member of PAWO in 1962 through its member the late Putuse Appolus who signed on its behalf. Host of the meeting Minister of Gender Equality and Child Welfare Marlene Mungunda stated: “It is encouraging to know that PAWO Congress is approaching – an event that would undoubtedly formulate the way forward and set up solid structures of our organisation for the future. African women need a vibrant and dynamic orga-nisation to address the issues that affect them the most, such as gender inequality, poverty and HIV/AIDS pandemic, among others. “I hope that the GS (General Secretariat) meeting will come to be known as a historic Windhoek meeting that will make crucial and strategic decisions for the future of our continental organisation,” she remarked. In addition to the late Appolus, other Namibian executive members of PAWO include Pashukeni Shoombe, Loide Shinavera and Susan Nghidinwa. Recently, Lydia Katjita was appointed to PAWO Secretariat as Secretary for Administration and Finance. She is getting ready to take up her post in Luanda.