By Confidente Reporter
NAMIBIA’S Mildred Jantjies, who is the executive secretary of the Pan-African Women’s Organisation for Southern African Regional Office (PAWO-SARO), was recently awarded for her remarkable work in South Sudan, Central Africa Republic and Western Sahara during a glitzy ceremony in Abuja, Nigeria.
Jantjies was presented with a trophy on November 28 by the Women Advancement for Economic and Leadership Empowerment in Africa (WAELE/ARCELFA), an organisation that advocates for economic and political empowerment of the African women.
A beaming Jantjies in an interview with Confidente Tuesday said that the accolade celebrates her work as Ambassador for the movement, Women’s Right for Resistance in Western Sahara.
Women in that country play a prominent role in its independence movement as it remains a disputed territory controlled primarily by next-door neighbour Morocco and locked in a nearly 40 year struggle for the sight to choose its fate. The women’s involvement has spanned a guerrilla war and for the past two decades a mostly peaceful protest movement.
“It is not an award that is just dished out, one must have made a unique contribution towards the cause of women and children. I am the first women to petition the UN on issues affecting Western Sahara’s independence and its illegal occupation by Morocco as well as addressing the European Union parliament to de-link its trade partnerships with Morocco,” Jantjies said of her honour. Jantjies explained that WAELE/ARCELFA’s president Otunba Basirat called inviting her to the event. “I received my invite and found myself in Nigeria for an event where my work was honoured. I did not know what to say but I dedicated the award to African women crossing oceans for better opportunities, those swallowed by the oceans, those raped daily, the children not allowed to enjoy their childhood and those in living in their comfort zones in independent countries. I urge them to continue praying and not to close their eyes to parts of the world that is crying.
“At the time of the ceremony, it was a bit too much for me to take in. But as I look back I am humbled to be of service and it encourages me to maintain inner peace. This is a reminder that God’s eye is watching all over us and with this award my star is unveiled,” Jantjies proudly said.
Jantjies explained that her work in Southern Sahara started in 2009 when on invitation to that country by Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and PAWO-SARO’s president Assetau Koite she witnessed the plight of women housed at refugee camps. “At the time the late President Abdelaziz Bouteflika said that it was up to us to continue the fight and improve the living conditions of those suffering. I then became active in their movement, attending their conferences until in 2012 when I was declared Ambassador of Western Sahara’s Women Right for Resistence,” Jantjies said.
According to Jantjies, WAELE/ARCELFA has committed to empower 100 widows in Namibia in July 2017 with a fund that would revolve after six months when the initial group of women are expected to give the same amount to other less privileged members of the community to grow. “It will be a continuous thing that has touched me more being an orphan and a widow at the same time, this is important.” As Ambassador for the Western Sahara Women’s Right for Resistance, Jantjies said that educational theatre programmes will soon be rolled out to depict the illegal occupation of Western Sahara by Morocco.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015