As the Secretary-General of the Pan African Women’s Organisation (PAWO) and the International Relations Secretary of the ANC Women’s League (ANCWL) I am humbled and commend the thousands of African women who mobilised in support of last week’s successful 15th Israeli Apartheid Week which ran from 1-7 April.
PAWO and the ANCWL, through our partners, arranged successful events this past week in support of the Palestinian struggle and against Israeli Apartheid. In addition, our leaders and members attended various activities of the Palestine solidarity and BDS movements.
It was fitting that this year’s 15th Israeli Apartheid Week, themed “Africa for Palestine”, coincided with us also marking the first anniversary since the passing of revolutionary stalwart Mama Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. Mama Winnie was a staunch supporter of the Palestinian struggle having boldly said: “Apartheid Israel can be defeated, just as apartheid in South Africa was defeated.”
It is this resilience and confidence of Mama Winnie, Jean Martin Cisse and all the women of our continent that we pass on to our Palestinian sisters and mothers who are daily humiliated by Israeli soldiers but at the same time who stand on their feet resisting the regime.
Palestinian women prove that a woman’s place is anywhere she wants it to be – including in the trenches against apartheid, racism and sexism.
Together with fellow Africans I was deeply inspired by the participation in the campaign of a young Palestinian diplomat and activist, Comrade Lema Nazeeh, who was brought to our continent by the Embassy of Palestine for this year’s Israeli Apartheid Week.
This year’s campaign was indeed not only successful but also historic. With the help of the PAWO Southern African Region, led by Cde Eunice Iipinge, the Israeli Apartheid Week campaign went beyond South Africa’s borders and took place in neighbouring countries for the first time. Meetings were held in Zambia, Botswana, Swaziland and various other countries. In Windhoek a very successful meeting took place with the deputy speaker of the Namibian Parliament together with the leadership of the SWAPO Women’s Council as well as an engagement with Secretary General of Swapo, a strong African women, Cde Sophia Shaningwa – we look forward to upcoming events and activities from Namibia.
It would be remiss of me not to commend the South African government for taking solidarity with Palestinian people to a level beyond rhetoric. The implementation by South Africa of the African National Congress resolution to downgrade the Israeli embassy in South Africa to a liaison office is a strong stand against injustice. We hope that this move will be a catalyst for other African states to also review their diplomatic relations with apartheid Israel.
One thing is certain, the Palestine solidarity movement – led to a large extent by women – continues to be at the forefront of liberation of Palestine – it is a strong sign that the times are changing. Africa is uniting for Palestine!
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.