An international women’s symposium and the 7th congress of the National Union of Eritrean Women (NUEW) was conducted at Asmara Palace and at the union’s head office respectively from 15 September to 17 September 2014 in Asmara. In the symposium President Isaias Afwerki, ministers, high ranking PFDJ officials, heads of different national associations, army commanders and regional administrators took part. The international women’s symposium was held in line with the 7th congress of the NUEW in which representatives of women’s unions from seven African countries as well as 423 members of the NCEW from the six regions of Eritrea were also present.
During the opening ceremony Ms. Azieb Brhane, head of NUEW’s organizing Committee, and Ms. Luul Ghebreab’s delivered a speech focusing on the role the Eritrean women in general and the role they played in the quest for national independence, the overall efforts exerted by Eritrean women in the nation-building process, and also about the role different women’s unions in Africa could play in ensuring women’s participation in different sectors. Ms. Christine Umutoni, UN Resident/Humanitarian coordinator, on her part gave a briefing about UN’s support to the promotion of women’s movement so as to reinforce women’s input in different domains of development.
Besides speeches by representatives of National Confederation of Eritrean Workers (NCEW) and National Union of Eritrean Youth and Student (NUEYS), representatives of women’s unions from Sudan, South Africa and Rwanda expressed their views to by far enhance the solidarity they have with Eritrean Women.
Present in the symposium, President Isaias Afwerki commended the role Eritrean women have been playing towards the all-round development of their nation. He also appreciated the supportive initiatives taken by Eritrean people and by the PFDJ which was highly imperative in strengthening the overall activities of the NUEW that have been carried out so far.
Ms. Luul Ghebreab also commended the representatives of different African women’s unions who took part in the international symposium. In her speech she said “We have at least a three-day of ample opportunity which would enable us to discuss and assess what has so far been achieved and what awaits a head of us as while also opening a venue to discus as African women about the achievements so far registered and the challenges we may face in the future.”
Citing that the NUEW has 300,000 registered members at a national level, Ms. Luul highlighted that the union has in collaboration with the government of Eritrea and with the PFDJ been exerting efforts to ensure that Eritrean women are getting a broader access to education and healthcare services, to upgrade their economic knowhow so as to improve their living standards as well as to promote their participation in political affairs.
Indicating that the issue of women has a global nature and enhancing bilateral ties with different African women’s unions would play a decisive role in tackling challenges that may hinder women from playing a role which they are capable of; Ms. Luul said that the NUEW would work diligently to ensure that the capability of African women’s unions is strengthened so as to meet the envisaged goal of making women more productive.
Present in the International Women’s Symposium and in 7th congress of the NUEW were Eritreans from abroad, representatives of women’s unions from Kenya, Sudan, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi. The representatives of the aforementioned African states have also presented different papers in solidarity with the NUEW and highlighting the experiences women attained in their respective countries.