South African activist calls on women to join force in support of Saharawi women’s right to freedom

Pretoria (South Africa) 31 July 2019 (SPS)- South African human rights defender, Ms. Catherine Constantinides, called Today on African women to join force in support of their sisters’ freedom and independence in Western Sahara.

In her statement during the 57th Anniversary celebration of the Pan African Women’s Organisation (PAWO) organised, Today, at the Department of International Relations and Cooperation (DIRCO), the South African activists estimated that African women effort is necessary to “ensure that in our lifetime we see the inalienable rights of the people of Western Sahara being recognised in our lifetime."

The event also hosted a High Level Panel on AU programme “Silencing the Guns by 2020”, “The African Women’s Decade 2010-2030” and the “Liberation of Women”, and was attended by prominent South African female officials, mainly Mrs. Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula, Minister of Defence, Mrs. Maite Emily Nkoana-Mashabane, Minister of Women, Youth and Persons with Disabilities, Mrs. Pinky Sharon Kekana, Deputy Minister of Communications, Mrs. Assetou Koite, President of PAWO, among others.

 The high level panel discussion which also included a representative from the Institute of Security Studies wrapped up with a strong voice and call for women representing many organs of the AU, UN Women in South Africa and the Diplomatic core in attendance to make their voice of solidarity heard.

Constantinides called on people to take the discussion outside of these official platforms and into their social spaces, considering that African women should be the voice of the voiceless Saharawis in the refugee camps and occupied territories.

“The call for solidarity with the Saharawi women must not only be amplified but a deliberate effort for decisive actions to bring to light the promised referendum by the UN. A goal we must reach,” she stressed.

Talking about the violations committed by the Moroccan authorities in the occupied zones of Western Sahara, Constantinides denounces serious abuses, systematic exercise of torture and police brutality and oppression against Saharawi civilians, especially women.

The celebration of PAWO anniversary was held this year in partnership with the ANC Women’s League, DIRCO, and the Department of Women under the theme “The Africa we want, for the women of Africa, by the women of Africa.”

090/500/60 (SPS)