The Fourth Conference on the right to education of women and girls promoted by the Rita Levi Montalcini Foundation was held in Rome, a year after the death of the great Italian neurologist and senator.
The conference, entitled “The education of African Women: gender issues and power for development” organized in collaboration with the Italian Development Cooperation, has sought to emphasize the importance of training and education of women in emerging countries as a key point to promote their rights and their role in society and, consequently, the contribution to the development of their community.
The Rita Levi-Montalcini NPO Foundation was founded in July 1992 with the aim of promoting guidance to studying and working for the new generations. Its motto is in fact “The future to the young people”.
The work of the Foundation is now concentrated in the south of the world and particularly in the African continent, identifying as an important issue the lack of access to education of nearly all the persons belonging to the female gender.
For this reason, the Foundation’s purpose is to come to the aid of young women in the countries of Africa in support of education at all levels. “The purpose of the Foundation, through the allocation of scholarships in the most critical situations in Africa, may trigger radical transformation mechanisms, which are beneficial on a global scale”, is what Prof. Rita Levi-Montalcini stated.
Various actors of the international cooperation attended the Conference.
Next to the Minister for Integration, Cécile Kyenge, the Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, Marta Dassù and the President of the Rita Levi-Montalcini ONP Foundation, Biancamaria Bosco Tedeschini Lalli, there were numerous witnesses from different African countries, particularly Ethiopia, Somalia and Mozambique. All interventions testified that we are still far from gender equality in Africa, stressing however the importance of women’s role in the continent and the difference that it can make: if African women will be given access to education and training, we will see major changes in family life and also in the entire African society.
The testimonies of the women who attended the conference, direct witnesses of this change, were very significant. It is the example of Asha Omar Aden, Somali gynecologist, who after studying in Italy thanks to a scholarship, now works in her country to combat female genital mutilation, of which 98% of the young people of Somalia are now victims.
It is instead from Mozambique, Cacilda Isabel Massango, now in charge of the social sector of the DREAM program in her country. Cacilda has had the opportunity to access schooling because in 2006, when she was already working actively for the DREAM program of the Community of Sant'Egidio, she was offered the opportunity to attend an Advanced Course at the University of Maputo. “I was so happy!” Cacilda tells. Today she is Doctor of Philosophy with a specialization in "Human Resources and Ethics", with a thesis entitled "The dignity of the human person in Kant." In her speech she sought to call attention to the dramatic social condition in which thousands of African women live, many of whom met everyday through the DREAM Program for the treatment of AIDS. “These women are excluded from the future due to various social injustices resulting from HIV, women driven to abandonment, women who lose their home and their family because they are thought to have brought AIDS, because they are blamed for the death of their husbands or their own children, battered women because they do not accept the wrong decisions of their husbands, submissive women and without any decision-making power in the family and finally, they are drowned women in the tragedy of domestic violence.
Many of these injustices could be prevented if these women had access to education and adequate schooling.
In fact, starting from there, these women could learn to defend themselves, their children, their property, promoting their dignity and self-respect".
Cacilda Isabel Massango has then underlined the important contribution given by the Rita Levi Montalcini Foundation, which has allowed to carry out literacy and health training courses for 500 women in Malawi, Mozambique and Guinea.
The works were concluded with the intervention of the Deputy Minister Dassù who stated how Africa will again be at the center of Italy’s geopolitical agenda, also in view of the Expo 2015 where there will be a special area dedicated to women.
RAI NEWS24 – Servizio di Antonella Cristiani (ITALIAN)