Speech: Leveraging AU-UN partnership to enhance the role and leadership of women in Africa’s transformation

Remarks by Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and Deputy Executive Director of UN Women, Asa Regner at the African Women Leaders Network high-level side event during the 73rd UN General Assembly



Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,

A little over a year ago, African women Heads of State and Government, Ministers and other high-level public officials, with civil society advocates and young women launched the African Women Leaders Network.

With a powerful and unified voice, they told us that “African women are leading the change they want to see”. They are taking action, and they are doing it now. 

Africa is facing multifold and complex challenges, from the kidnaping of girls by extremist groups who deny them access to education, to child marriage; from young women being infected with HIV, to marginalization from peace, security and political processes.

We know that women’s leadership is the key to addressing these issues.

Until they have a voice, it is not only women and girls who will be left behind—but all of humanity.

Thanks to the United Nations and the African Union support, the African Women Leaders Network has harnessed the critical experiences of African women leaders and their existing networks. The Network has also engaged with young women to help generate and advance new approaches of women’s leadership on the continent.

Africa and the world need more women at the decision-making table, and they need it now.

UN Member States, including in the UN Security Council have recognized the African Women Leaders Network and its joint AU-UN solidarity missions as a best practice to promote and duplicate.

On two occasions, UN Women Executive Director joined solidarity missions to DRC, Nigeria, Chad and Niger, led by the Deputy Secretary-General, where she witnessed the inspiring resilience of women and girls in the most challenging circumstances.

With the African Union, UN Women has also supported the establishment of the Network‘s national and local chapters in DRC and Cote d’Ivoire, with new chapters planned in the Central African Republic, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nigeria and South Sudan. Through these networks we are breaking the chains that prevented women from full equality, leadership and empowerment for so long.

In closing, let me commend all the Member States here today, who are joining this exciting partnership. I congratulate Ghana and Germany for launching and chairing this dynamic and cross-regional Group of Friends of the the African Women Leaders Network to the UN.

With the continuous support of the African Union and the United Nations, we are committed to ensuring that every woman in Africa and beyond, has full and equal access to transformative leadership roles.

I thank you.