Rainatou Sow: Making Every Woman Count

| March 11, 2013

Rainatou SowAt a time when many of us were oblivious to the sounds of our own voices, busy living our lives in youthful ignorance to the injustices that existed around us, Rainatou Sow was busy sowing the seeds of a powerful mission. Her activism began when she decided to teach evening classes to young girls in her neighborhood after school. The satisfaction she gained from that experience caused her to volunteer to represent her school in the Guinean Children’s Parliament where she was the Minister of Children and Women’s Affairs. What a noble idea for a young girl to pursue. She later worked with UNICEF to promote children’s education with a focus on the girl child, Female Genital Circumcision and HIV/AIDS by campaigning door-to-door and through radio and TV awareness campaigns.

Obviously, Rainatou Sow, founder of Make Every Woman Count (MEWC) has been busy for a very long time. But she is still not tired. Matter of fact, she is even more relentless in her pursuit of justice and equality for women now more than ever – her goal, “to provide a spectrum of platforms and tools for African women, grassroots, activists, international organizations and women’s rights groups.”

She is fighting a cause that in many ways seems personal. Her childhood she says, was ordinary, but the abuses she witnessed in her community spurred her to action.  When the African Union announced that the decade (2010 – 2020) was being dedicated to the African woman as the African Woman’s Decade (AWD), she sprang into action, propelled by the lack of a space where African women’s voices would be front and center.

MEWC was founded in December 2010, just two months after the after the launch of the African Women’s Decade. It is a young African women-led organization, established to promote and advocate for the empowerment and rights of African women and children, and to promote and raise awareness of the AWD movement. The organization’s main goal however, is to become the main hub of information for promoting participation of African women in all areas of life – social, political, and economic development.

The African Women’s Decade was launched by the African Union in October 2010 in Nairobi, Kenya, with the theme, “grassroots approach to gender equality and women’s empowerment.” As part of its contribution to the AWD agenda, MEWC publishes a yearly report summarizing the progress African countries have made regarding women’s rights and gender equality on the continent. The report will be published every year throughout the 10-year period of the African Woman’s Decade

As is the case with most non-profit organizations, Make Every Woman Count has its own share of challenges – mostly financial. The organization is managed by a staff of volunteers and is kept afloat mostly by in-kind donations. For MEWC to continue to offer its services and achieve more of its goals, the organization will need to raise about £200,000 “to carry out its vital work and help MEWC take its next step in developing as an organization,” according to Rainatou Sow. To help raise the funds, the organization has launched a three month fundraising campaign from January to April 2013.

Despite its financial limitations, MEWC has excelled when it comes to diligently publishing the yearly report which summarizes the progress African countries have made regarding women’s rights and gender equality on the continent. It has also successfully organized conferences every year to mark the anniversary of the African Women’s Decade. It is a great opportunity to spread the word about the work Africans are doing to advance women’s rights on the continent.

The work Making Every Woman Count does is great, but the laborers and givers are few. Yet, Rainatou Sow has great hopes for the future of African women and sees MEWC’s objectives as largely attainable. She believes that the various African governments have an important role to play and says, “we need to ask African Governments to be accountable, and take responsibility in keeping their promises, so as to push African governments to work harder on women’s issues; those who have not ratified the various legal framework to ratify, those who have already ratified to put money aside for implementation with concrete action plans such as clear gender budgeting as well as allocating more funding for food security, human security , better education /health care for sustainable development and that less money be allocated to military expenditure. “ She also believes “we have to continue to collaborate at the local, national and regional level, to breach the barriers and enhance the dialogue with the Gender Directorate of the African Union and various ministries or institutions of our countries.”

I couldn’t agree more. For women’s initiatives, such as the worthy one Rainatou has diligently pushed for the last two years, African governments need to get fiscally involved, and community engagement must be encouraged – that means getting men and boys involved too. Once men see that what benefits women benefits them also, only then will organizations such as MEWC really make significant headway.

In the meantime, Rainatou and MEWC are doing the best they can to achieve their goals, regardless of the obstacles. It is this fighting spirit, along with her heart of courage, caring and perseverance that makes her our March 2013 goddess. To read more about Making Every Woman Count and the many ways you can get involved, visit their website at http://www.makeeverywomancount.org/

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AFRIKAN GODDESS MAGAZINE is a subsidiary of Afrikan Goddess Media, LLC. Our content is designed with the educated, professional, classy, charming and sassy African woman in mind. We encourage women to express their creativity and ideas through writing, and also serve as a platform for meaningful discussions and exchange of ideas.

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