Blog from the Africa Conference
African Regional Conference
"Young Women Soaring towards Exellence"
11 August 2013- 17 August 2013 (Lagos, Nigeria)
Arriving in Lagos can be difficult, - but not when you are being met by a local OB-PS friend, Mrs. Adefemi Taire. The first evening offered the a get-together opportunity. A big Africa map on the floor and participants from all the countries presented themselves and the country. And then not surprisingly some singing and dancing.
Opening session with roll call and the procedures of starting up the meeting,- like appointing resolutions committee, tellers etc.
The opening ceremony took place at the National Union of Teachers Pavillon Centre, where the tables were set for lunch. While waiting for the official program to start there was a lot of spontaneous singing and dancing. The opening session started with the Flag Parade, every country marching in with their national flag. Speeches by the chairman of the Regional Africa Region, Helinoro Rakotomalala, World Board Chairman Nadine El-Achy and First Lady of Lagos Dame Abimbola Fashola (who is one of our very good OB-PS supporters) and the Chief Commissioner for Nigeria Girl Guide Association Dame (Dr) Christie Toby. (OB-PS supporter)
The key note speaker was a top hit, Chairman Africa Union, Dr. Nkosazana Clarice Dlamini Zuma. Nkosazana Clarice Dlamini Zuma encouraged everyone to soar towards excellence and conveyed her confidence and aspirations around the development of girls and young women.
The African Union knows that for us to succeed, we must develop the potential of both men and women. We therefore, pay special attention to the empowerment of young women and girls. If girls and young women are empowered, they develop their self-esteem, build confidence and overcome any obstacles… I believe in the development of the capacity of women. That is why I came to this conference.
Dr. Nkosazana Clarice Dlamini Zuma
The Africa Regional Committee Report was presented revealing that most of the National Member Organizations have increased their membership substantially. Totally the Region has grown from 607.000 members in 2006 to 818.000 in 2011.
Tuesday also brought strong messages from the World Board Chairman and staff. Nadine praised the Africa Region
ambition to have 2 million members in 2020 and expressed that Africa would be an important driver for growth for the World Association. The ambition globally is to be at least 12 million members in 2020. The Vision 2020 strategic framework was presented, having 2 main goals and 6 outcome areas. There was a discussion in plenary and later a Global Membership Development Strategy working group. From there the countries worked with their own strategic plans.
Tuesday evening was the African Market Place where all participants, wearing colorful national dresses, were selling their goods and good ideas to each other in order to raise money for their associations. Did they also sing and dance, - yes indeed – all great fun.
Today was all about workshops, - on Leadership, training and educational program, on marketing, fund development and succession planning. The workshops revealed a very high level of engagement and energy and a very high level of professionalism and quality from the facilitators. The facilitators managed to work with two languages English and French in spite of the fact that electricity went off a number of times thus preventing simultaneous translation and the use of projectors and other prepared methods and materials.
This day was about WAGGGS’ Advocacy programs and campaigns. A number of countries presented their projects on the Stop- the Violence- against Girls and Women campaign and program. It was impressive to learn that several of the member countries had managed to get a very tight and good contact with the government and other authorities and had gained their support. And it was impressive to learn how well they had managed their projects and how many girls and young women who will be affected to the better by these projects. – Thursday morning was also the time for a short OB-PS Presentation.
Thursday afternoon was the tour program. Many of the participants went to a huge market and to the Nigerian Girl Guide Head Quarter. – I went together with Fund Development Director Ann Brookes to a very nice lunch with six of our OB-PS- supporters in Nigeria, including Mrs. Olayinka Olanyan, who (also a strong and loyal OB-PS supporter) is heading up and driving the Friends of Africa Fund Raising Program. It was wonderful to meet our Nigerian OB-PS supporters. I also had a short meeting with HE Senator Oluremi Tinubu who has been the key driver of the growing OB-PS chapter in Nigeria. – She holds a Princess Benedikte Award.
This was the time for decisions. A new Arica Committee was elected and some resolutions were voted upon, all in order to move the Africa Region forward. At the closing ceremony certificates/diplomas were presented to a number of countries having either showed significant increase in membership or having been valued as working at a high level of quality. Great to see how well many of the countries are working.
I also had the opportunity to meet with several young women having received a grant from the Ann Scott Fund. Great that we have this opportunity to support some young women directly,- while 95 % of our donations go straight to the World Association.
The farewell dinner was a successful Fund Raising Dinner, sponsored by the Friends of Africa and HE Senator Oluremi Tinubu.
Totally it has been a great experience to meet so many energetic and ambitious young women who are ready to change the world. To know that they are there must inspire everyone of of us OB-PS - supporters to continue and strengthen our support.
President of the Olave Baden-Powell Society - Vibeke Riemer (Denmark)