Theo Sowa is Chief Executive Officer of the African Women’s Development Fund. In her TEDxChange talk, Theo Sowa talks about African voices and representation in conversations of international health and poverty issues. Theo argues that if we truly want to see progress in Africa and across borders, we need to invite the millions of African women who are leading change to the table.
Published by the African Women’s Development Fund, Women Leading Africa: Conversations with inspirational African women is a collection of interviews with women leaders from Eastern, Western and Southern Africa. This first volume focuses on Politics, the Arts and Feminist Spaces and was edited by Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah. These African women share their inspiration, thoughts and experiences on feminism, politics, peace building, leadership and the Arts. Nana Darkoa Sekyiamah talked to inspiring women such as Mary Wandia, Mercy Amba Oduyoye, Dr Musimbi Kanyoro, Jessica Horn, Leymah Gbowee, Florence Butegwa, Wanuri Kahiu, Ayesha Harruna Attah,Tsitsi Dangarembga, Rudo Chigudu, Bibi Bakare-Yusuf, Ama Ata Aidoo,Wendy Pekeur, Catherine Mabobori, Pregaluxmi Govender, Varbah Gayflor, Margaret Dongo, and Winnie Byanyima.
The African Women’s Development Fund (AWDF) is a grant-making foundation that supports local, national and regional women’s organisations working towards the empowerment of African women and the promotion and realisation of their rights. The AWDF is the first pan-African women’s grant-maker on the continent and since its inception has established itself as an innovative organisation at the cutting edge of social justice and women’s rights philanthropy in Africa.
The vision of the AWDF is for women to live in a world where there is social justice, equality and respect for women’s human rights. To this end, our mission is to mobilise financial, human and material resources to support African women and the work of the African women’s movement to advance women’s rights and gender equality in Africa. We believe that if women and women’s organisations are empowered with skills, information, sustainable livelihoods, opportunities to fulfil their potential, plus the capacity and space to make transformatory choices, then we will have vibrant, healthy and inclusive communities.
Since the start of its operations in 2001, the AWDF has provided over $19 million in grants to 800 women’s organisations in 42 African countries. These groups include small women’s groups, regional organisation’s and emerging women’s funds, such as Women Peace and Security Network in Ghana: “AWDF has been that group that has stood by Women Peace and Security Network since we started…they gave us our first grant, but beyond that you rarely see donors who are concerned about the welfare of an institution, who are concerned about the little day to day things that are happening, who are concerned about the people who run the organisation so I say they walk the talk…the women who work there are fantastic…The Women Peace and Security Network has been in existence for 5 years, and for 5 years AWDF has stood by us.” Leymah Gbowee, joint winner of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize.