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A critical mass of women and gender parity needed to change the world

Chairperson of the African Union Commission Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma delivering a lecture at the University of West Indies at Mona in Kingston, Jamaica
Chairperson of the African Union Commission Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma delivering a lecture at the University of West Indies at Mona in Kingston, Jamaica

– Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma

Kingston, Jamaica – 11 April 2015: “Having one woman who made it in a man’s world is not enough. We need a critical mass of women and gender parity, to change it into a humane world.” These were some of the thought-provoking words together with inspirational stories that the Chairperson of the African Union Commission Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma shared with students, lecturers, the Diplomatic Corps, and the general public at the University of West Indies at Mona in Kingston, Jamaica.

Dr. Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma was guest speaker at the 8th Biennial Lucille Mathurin-Mair Public Lecture on the theme: “The African year of women and 20 years after Beijing." Paying tribute to Dr. Mathurin-Mair, who was a diplomat, scholar, women’s rights activist, historian and intellectual, she said her thesis on Jamaican women, and her other published works, helped to bring women back into Caribbean history, as well as into African and global history.  

Inspired by Dr. Mathurin-Mair’s legacy, she pointed out, “we must encourage the new generations of young sociologists, historians and other scholars - on the African continent and in the Diaspora - to ensure that the contributions of African people and peoples of African descent - in all their rich diversities - and the histories of both men and women are researched, published and popularised.”

Dr. Leith Dunn, Senior Lecturer and Head of the Institute for Gender and Development Studies, that hosted the lectures, said the lecture by the AU Commission Chairperson strengthened the relationship and solidarity between the people of Jamaica and the African continent with “similar backgrounds, a painful past and a glorious future, as we struggle to overcome our history of social, racial and gender inequity.”

A “rebel” woman delivering a lecture in honour of another “rebel” woman was seen a great opportunity. Describing the Dr. Dlamini Zuma as a “quintessential trailblazer for human rights, women empowerment and gender equality” as was Dr. Mathurin Mair, Prof. Isehenkumba Kahwa Deputy of the University of West Indies Mona Campus, said the lecture was a signature moment for students of the UWI and the public to learn from giants in their fields. He said that the lecture inspired young women to yearn for greatness.

The visit of the AU Commission Chairperson was equally seen as exemplifying the endless possibilities that South-South cooperation could generate. Her knowledge and experience will help shape the Post-2015 Development Agenda through gender empowerment and development in Africa and the Caribbean.

The UWI is proudly using model curricula developed for gender mainstreaming in the academia by the Makerere University in Uganda. It currently hosts many students from Africa, and the African Diaspora is represented in the High Level Panel of the Pan-African University.

During the lecture the Chairperson took the opportunity to present Africa’s Agenda 2063, and the drive to its full implementation. Linking the agenda to women’s empowerment, she said, “The focus on women and girls, their contribution and empowerment, is critical to the implementation of Agenda 2063,” highlighting examples of concrete ongoing plans in 2015 which is the African Year of Women’s Empowerment.

Dr. Dlamini Zuma expressed her delight to be part of celebrations to mark the 80th anniversary of Former PM PJ Patterson, “whose life and enthusiasm,” she added, “continue to exemplify the ties that bind us together.”

African Union Commission



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