African women blame leaders for continent’s poverty

Linda Asante Agyei, Ghana News Agency (GNA)
May 18, 2005

Women at a two-day conference in Nairobi to launch an African women’s intiative on poverty and human rights have declared the continent’s leaders are responsible for the numerous problems facing Africa, the Ghana News Agency (GNA) reports.

Attendees said money borrowed from international lending institutions – such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation (WTO) – had caused Africa to accumulate “an immoral and odious debt” that had depleted and derailed the development agenda and denied Africans of honest wages for
their hard labour.

The first regional African Women’s Millennium Initiative (AWOMI) conference attended by more than 250 women from 18 African countries, is the first forum where African women have spoken on Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and whether the goals will be achieved by the year 2015, as planned.
The conference ended with a call to African governments to stop paying the bilateral and multilateral “immoral debts” they owe the IMF, World Bank and WTO, since “we the women and children of Africa are paying the interest by way of starvation, poverty and diseases such as HIV/AIDS.” The women also demanded the dissolution of the WTO, IMF and World Bank and “any other anti-people anti-development institutions or agendas.” “We are tired, overworked, sick and fed-up and we are saying enough is
enough,” said Mariam Matembi, a Ugandan member of parliament, who is also a member of the Pan African Parliament. Africa 20 years ago, she added, was better off than it is now.
“Yet, our leaders continue to use the money they’ve borrowed in the name of defence when there is no war while there are other important issues like health, education and food security to take care of,” she said.
Mrs Matembi said African governments had misused donor funds and their countries’ resources, sparking conflicts that resulted in the suffering of women and children and that the time had come to be bold and say “no” to the giant moneylenders.

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Categories: Africa, Odious Debts

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