The African Women of Excellence Awards (AWEA) in Sandton, Johannesburg on Saturday night honoured women leaders across the globe, with the highlights reserved for late struggle icon Winnie Madikizeka-Mandela, the queen of soul Aretha Franklin, and Jeannette Kagame, the first lady of Rwanda.
The awards are an initiative hosted by the African Union Commission (AUC) and the Diaspora African Forum, which recognise the contributions of women of African descent across the world. Since 2015, the AWEA has honoured game changers, rule breakers, and trailblazers, and Saturday night’s event proved to be one of the biggest ever so far.
Hundreds of people gathered at the Michelangelo Hotel in Sandton for the awards ceremony and networking event. More than 10 of Africa’s best and brightest women were honoured for the work that they do in business and their communities.
The women selected for awards honours represent diverse backgrounds, personal characteristics, and life experiences. They are also lifelong advocates for promoting equality for women and girls everywhere.
The ceremony was co-chaired by AUC deputy chairperson Kwesu Quartey and Diaspora African Forum ambassador and head of mission Erieka Bennett, who paid tribute to Madikizela-Mandela, who died in April.
Legacy Africa Trust’s Dr Tony Luck, who was also honoured, said, “So many women are mothers, they are sisters and so many go unrecognised. We started this in 2015 to recognise their contribution the development of what these women have done on the continent or internationally. The story of women must never be forgotten. We are here to honour my sister Winnie [Madikizela-Mandela] who played a major role for South Africa to be liberated.”
Rwanda’s high commissioner in South Africa Vincent Karega, who received an award on behalf of Jeannette Kagame, said Rwanda had seen the importance and impact of promoting women. “We have, therefore, committed ourselves to create and continue ensuring a conducive environment for their growth and development through favourable policies and laws.”
“It is safe to say that Rwanda is where it is today mainly due to the fact that we chose to promote the inclusion of women, as we could not leave out over 50 percent of our population and expect sustainable development,” Karega said.
Jeannette Kagame, whose country hosted the 2017 edition of the awards, was recognised for the work she does through her organisation the Imbuto Foundation, which includes educating and empowering especially the most vulnerable groups in Rwanda.
– African News Agency (ANA)