On September 27, 2022, the Network of Locally Elected Women of Africa (REFELA) held an online meeting with the Mayor of New York, Hon. Eric Adams. 140 participants took part in the meeting including hundreds of African local elected women from the 5 regions of the continent (North, South, East, West, Southern) and five members of the New York City Council.
The main objective was to launch the foundations of a future collaboration between UCLG Africa and the City of New York. In her opening remarks, the President of UCLG Africa, Ms. Fatimetou Abdel Malick stated to Mayor Adams that he has in REFELA “the beating heart of Africa that mobilizes daily for the improvement of the living conditions of the African people. In REFELA, you also have sisters who are aware of the importance of the African Diaspora’s contribution to the promotion and mastery of sustainable development on the African continent. What place in the world could be better placed than New York to start the conversation on how to join hands for the African Renaissance? Who better to initiate this common action than women, the givers of life? I sincerely encourage all Africans and people of African descent in the Americas and elsewhere to take the step or turn their gaze to their home continent so that together we can begin to rebuild our continent, and move from the negative image that people have of Africa to a positive image that we will all be proud of,” she said.
For her part, the President of REFELA, Ms. Rohey Malick Lowe reaffirmed that “REFELA is committed to promoting women to political leadership positions, as this is one of the most effective ways to concretely influence the achievement of gender equality in the African context. Believe me, Mr. Mayor, REFELA is without a doubt the best entry point for anyone who wants to have a real contact and interaction with the African people, who are predominantly women”.
The Mayor of New York noted the importance of women in his municipality. “For the first time in the history of New York City, five women are serving as deputy mayors, which shows that the uniformity that Africa calls for is no different than the uniformity that New York City believes in. New York City is the most important city in America. It is the largest city, and it has a terrible obligation to set the tone for how cities around the world are run. Cities are the places of the future. Cities are closest to the problems we face, so they must be closest to the solutions, and many of those solutions have for too long been the absence of women’s voices. REFELA clearly shows how we must engage our women and families to move our cities and countries in the right direction,” said Hon. Eric Adams.
He also mentioned his attachment to the African continent. “As a proud descendant of Africa, a son of Brooklyn and the second black mayor of America’s largest city, it is an honor to be with you today. Like many, I feel a strong connection to the heritage of my ancestors and when I visited Ghana last December, I felt the heritage was alive, just as I felt it when I visited Senegal, Nigeria, South Africa, Morocco, Egypt, and every time I set foot on African shores, I felt the connection to my ancestors and the importance of reconnecting. New York City is home to a large diaspora of communities from all over Africa that contribute to our city both culturally and economically. Since my first days as Mayor, I have been committed to strengthening our ties with the African continent”.
REFELA presented five areas for collaboration with New York City: 1) Women’s political leadership introduced by Ms. Rohey Malick Lowe, REFELA President, 2) Climate change introduced by Ms. Mayor Marie-Angele MEYANGA epse. NOAH, REFELA Vice President for Central Africa, 3) Economic empowerment, introduced by Ms. Manal AWAD MIKHAIL, representative of REFELA Vice President for North Africa, 4) City to City Partnership, introduced by Ms. Christine AKIMPAYE, REFELA Vice President for East Africa, 5) Culture, introduced by Ms. Bongile MBINGO, representative of REFELA Vice President for Southern Africa.
The two parties will agree on the concretization of this collaboration.