African women have waged war against various challenges they face on the continent. Over one thousand women from across the continent converged for the second annual African Women In Dialogue conference at the Birchwood Hotel in Ekurhuleni.

The conference, which is hosted by the Zanele Mbeki Development Trust,  aims to ensure that women are involved in the problem solving of African problems.

Host Mojanku Gumbi, from the Trust, says the second edition of the African Women In Dialogue will focus on how women can be agents of change in achieving peace and security and alleviating poverty in Africa.

“Some of our countries still face deadly conflicts, which takes the lives of innocents and results in the displacement of civilian populations, mostly women and children as we know. Especially noteworthy is that these conflicts are started by men who, for us this underscores the need to ask difficult but necessary questions about the formulation and practical implementation of policies for peace, governance framework that support and promote peace economic development and greater social justice with Africa’s resources at the centre of the achievement of these goals.”

The event is supported by the United Nations Women. United Nations Women Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka says they are looking to ensure gender parity.  “We are calling on civil society to work together with government but to lead a process. I must emphasise that we must galvanise a faster pace towards gender equality,” says Mlambo-Ngcuka.

Kenyan women activist, Editar Ochieng is a survivor of sexual abuse. Her ordeal has strengthened her conviction in the need to fight against gender based violence.  Ochieng founded an organsation that helps other survivors of sexual and physical abuse in Kibera,the country’s largest informal settlement. She is now a candidate of parliament in her country.

“As a sexual and gender based survivor it has been long. At the age of 6 I was defiled, again at the age of 16 I faced gang rape. At some point my life was shattered. I realised it has been happening to women but these women were silent. I could not remain silent, the only way I believe is to share our stories and talking to each other and then finding a solution and fighting gender based violence in Kibera.”

The week-long dialogue is expected to broaden and inspire the vision of African women under a common development agenda.