From August 29th to September 5th 2016 Catholic women from all over Africa gathered at Lilongwe (Malawi) for their 9th Africa Regional Conference. As usual, some members of the Swaziland Council of Catholic Women (SCCW) attended the meeting together with their spiritual adviser Fr P. S. Ndwandwe.
I did not attend the meeting but happened to meet their secretary general soon after that in Nigeria, during the conference on Human Trafficking. She was deeply impressed by the work being done by the women in Swaziland.
She also shared with me, their need to provide them with a computer to support their work. That is why she herself tried to find someone who could give a hand. "I got something for them but it is not enough" she said. I promised we would find the rest of the money.
Back in Swaziland members of the SCCW executive came to see me, as they usually do, to report on the Lilongwe gathering. At the end I surprised them with the gift... a new computer and printer. It was completely unexpected and they were absolutely grateful and overwhelmed.
Just a few days' later they asked to see me again. They had prepared a "thank you" gift to be given to their benefactor.
Below is the text of their final declaration at the end of the 9th Africa Regional Conference.
"Women of Africa, proclaimers of God's mercy"
Lilongwe declaration on African Women as evangelizers
We, Board members, Presidents and representatives of Women's organizations from 21 countries of the world's Catholic Women's Organizations of Africa Region (WUCWO-AFRICA) meeting in Lilongwe, Malawi from August 29th to September 5th 2016 at the Africa Regional Conference on the Theme "Women of Africa, Proclaimers of God's Mercy" reaffirm ou role as Evangelizers.
We pledge our will and commitment as mothers in the church, inspired by the role played by our mother Mary, our Patron Saint in Evangelization to families in particular, and the society in general.
Saddened by the prevailing situation where women live in abject poverty, lack of adequate means of education, forced marriages and prostitution and above all, trafficking to name just a few.
1. We WUCWO women will engage in mass sensitization of change of mindsets on women's issues especially cultural aspects and practices which militate against the integral development of women.
2. As WUCWO women, we will endeavor to take practical steps to ensure that all protocols signed for at the UN, which fall in line with Catholic teachings as well as laws and policies formulated in our countries are domesticated, enforced and implemented.
3. WUCWO in collaboration with local episcopal conferences, ensures the scaling up of appropriate structures geared towards the integral development of women.
4. As WUCWO women we pledge to leave no stone unturned to encourage all families to accommodate the voices of children and parents in all matters affecting the life of the family.
5. As a continual reminder of our work of evangelization, we as WUCWO women have adopted the slogan "Women of Africa" response "Proclaimers of God's Mercy".
6. We pledge our actions and support to work through the commitments we have made during this conference.
Done at Lilongwe this 4th day of September int eh year of Our Lord two thousand and sixteen.