This week, on 28 September, the topic of Operationalizing Access to Information and Enhancing Access to Opportunities for Women and Girls was the focus of attention at the 3rd International Day for Universal Access to Information Commemoration Southern African Regional IPDCtalks, held in Windhoek, Namibia. Lionesses of Africa CEO and Founder, Melanie Hawken, was invited to give a keynote speech on how the organisation is fulfilling its vision to empower 1 million women entrepreneurs in Africa.
The IPDCTalks event held to mark UNESCO’s commemoration of the International Day for Universal Access to Information (IDUAI) aimed to promote the role of a free, pluralistic and independent media, ICTs and the right to information, as key contributors to the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. The event provided a platform for policymakers, journalists, NGOs, private enterprises and international organizations to promote and showcase examples of innovative and creative Access to Information-initiatives that create access to information and thereby contribute to progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 5 on Gender Equality. The event was opened by Dr JP Ilboudo, Head of UNESCO in Namibia, who was followed by a number of addresses by dignatories including Ambassador Jana Hybaskova, EU Ambassador to Namibia; Prof. Hubert Gijzen, Regional Director/UNESCO Regional Office for Southern Africa (ROSA), and Namibia’s deputy minister for Information and Communication Technology.
Giving a keynote address in the opening session, Melanie Hawken, founder and ceo of Lionesses of Africa, introduced its work to support the growth and development of women entrepreneurs in Africa. She also took the opportunity to inspire the audience by sharing the stories of women entrepreneurs from the Lionesses of Africa community who are building game-changing, high impact businesses and creating world class products. Melanie shared news of an exciting new initiative being launched by Lionesses of Africa called Lioness.Biz, which aims to connect women entrepreneurs in Africa with global markets through the provision of e-commerce empowered websites, incorporating critical payment gateways and delivery solutions.
The other keynote address was given by the leading Feminist and Human Rights/ Communications Activist, Linda Baumann, who spoke on the headline theme of Operationalizing Access to Information – Enhancing Access to Opportunities for Women and Girls.
Following a packed morning of presentations and keynote addresses, a lighter note was provided by the wonderful young children from the Sunshine School in Windhoek, who performed in a marinda band. Their passion and vast amounts of energy shone through their performance which had all the delegates applauding and tapping along to the music.
The remainder of the day’s events focused on a number of panel discussions addressing such topics as Access to Information Laws and Policies; the Role of the Media; Training and Development of Journalists; Empowering Women and Girls to Harness Access to Information; and Access to Quality Information on Sustainable Development Goals.
The event came to a close with final remarks by Dr. JP, Ilboudo, Head of the UNESCO Windhoek Office and Representative in Namibia.