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March 08 2017

International Women’s Day | 8 March 2017

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Wathinta abafazi, wathinta imbokodo (You strike a woman, you strike a rock) - Zulu motto used during the Women’s March - Pretoria, South Africa, 1956

For International Women's Day and in celebration of its 10th anniversary, Arterial Network would like to pay tribute to the women leaders, managers, artists and cultural operators who continue to bolster the development of the arts and cultural sector.

During its formative years (2009 and 2013), Arterial Network’s continental Steering Committee was led by two strong female figures, namely Mulenga Kapwepwe (2009-2011) and Korkor Amarteifio (2011-2013).

In addition to being Arterial Network’s first Chairperson, Mulenga Kapwepwe (Zambia) has worked as an independent consultant for government, corporate entities, and within the arts and cultural sector for entities such as the European Union, the Ministry of Sport Youth and Child Development, UNAIDS, UNICEF, UNDP, Irish AID and USAID. She is and has been a patron of a number of associations, including the Women in Visual Arts Association, the Zambian Folk Music and Dance Association, and The Youth For Culture Association. She is also a member of the Zambia Visual Arts Council, and the Zambia Women Writers Association, and has served on the Boards of the National Youth Council of Zambia, the Zambia Commission for UNESCO, the National Museums Board, as well as the Arts Institute of Africa. She is also one of the three founders of the Kilimanjaro Film Institute Zambia, and a founding member of Lubuto Libraries. She also established the Lusaka Youth Orchestra, and has written a number of award winning plays and books.

For her part, Korkor Amarteifio (Ghana) has dedicated her energy and passion to bringing the African creative industry into the 21st Century. Far from creating “a museum piece out of Africa” (Power of Culture Interview, 2009), she has promoted an inclusive approach that combines traditional cultural histories with the modern age, and in so doing, she has contributed to the development of networks among artists across the continent and continues to show the economic benefits of culture. During the course of her career, Korkor has filled many roles, including working as a member of the Canadian Arts Council, working for the National Theatre in Ghana, founding the Institute for Music Development in 2004, serving on the artistic committee of MASA, being involved in the African Music Council and as the Director of the New Music Ghana Festival.

In 2015, Ghita Khaldi was elected to join the Arterial Network Steering Committee. She is the founder and current chairperson of the Moroccan association Afrikayna, that promotes intercultural exchange, development and cooperation in Africa. Through the same association, she initiated the launch of the first Moroccan mobility fund for artists in Africa, called Africa Art Lines. Ghita is also in charge of the overall coordination and production of Festival L'boulevard in Casablanca and Festival Jidar- toiles de rue in Rabat on behalf of EAC L'boulvart.

During this period of celebration, Arterial Network salutes the strong and distinguished women who have had a significant impact on the network across all regions of Africa, including notable figures such as Joy Mboya (Kenya), Basma El Husseiny (Egypt), Carole Karemera (Rwanda), Christine Gitau (Kenya), Dounia Benslimane (Morocco), Avril Joffe (South Africa), and many more.

Arterial Network has also been able to count on the hard work of a great number of women staff members in the Continental Secretariat, who include (both past and present) Belisa Rodrigues, Musonda Chimba, Nadia Nkwaya, Jeanne Hefez, Marie-Louise Rouget, Diana Ramarohetra, Esperance Ayinkamiye, Marie Sachet, Shireen Heugh, Thandeka Xapa, Minerva Draeger, Beverley Barry and many more.

This is not to forget the significant contributions of Arterial Network’s members who show their commitment to the spread of the network through their various projects and fight tirelessly for the advancement of Culture and Art in their respective countries.

African Women in Cultural Leadership

The advancement of women within the arts and cultural sector has always been at the heart of Arterial Network's concerns. In March 2015, the African Women in Cultural Leadership (AWCL) programme was launched at the East Africa Seminar. In April 2016, the pilot of the AWCL mentorship programme was inaugurated in Kenya and selected 10 young women to participate from the realms of fashion, film, cultural journalism and more. The project will be extended to other countries over the next few years.

Click here to see a video about the AWCL programme.

During the Arterial Network General Council held in Harare in October 2016, it was noted that the current participation of women in the activities of Arterial Network remains lower than it should be. With this in mind, a recommendation was made to invite the National Chapters to encourage women's participation and leadership within their structures on the basis of merit.

The importance of the promotion of gender equality cannot be underestimated and Arterial Network intends to promote and popularise its programmes that will increase female leadership within the sector.

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