Opportunity Africa

Two UD professors will speak at conference on 'Women Leading Africa.'

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10:14 a.m., March 10, 2014--U.S. Sen. Chris Coons’ third annual Opportunity: Africa conference will be held today, Monday, March 10, at the Chase Center on the Riverfront in Wilmington, and feature two University of Delaware professors.

The conference was established as a way for businesses, individuals and policy makers to better understand critical issues facing Africa, how to establish better connections to people from the region and national organizations who share their concern, and become more comfortable acting as strong advocates locally and nationally.

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Businesses, faith communities and individuals with top experts on Africa will discuss human rights challenges, food security, sustainable development, global health, and trade opportunities. Former President Bill Clinton will be the keynote speaker at the event. 

The two UD professors will be on a workshop panel titled “Women Leading Africa.”  Gretchen Bauer, professor and chair of the Department of Political Science and International Relations, will moderate the workshop, and Elaine Rosa Salo, associate professor of political science and international relations, will provide expertise. 

Bauer specializes in African politics and women and politics. She teaches classes in African politics and African women in politics, and her research focuses on women's participation in politics in sub-Saharan Africa. 

Salo was previously the director of the Institute for Women and Gender Studies at the University of Pretoria. She has a joint appointment in the Department of Women and Gender Studies. Her research interests include gender, sexuality and human rights in African societies as well as the anthropology of gender, race and rights in urban African contexts. She currently teaches a course on water governance in Africa. 

Both will speak about women in a democratic roles, their participation in politics and how women’s representation many African countries is ahead of the Unite States.

Other topics include ensuring access to natural resources, impact of women’s greater presence in legislative positions and as traditional leaders, social cohesive threads embodied by women and breaking the stigma that Africa is a continent that is a recipient of charity but rather a continent of opportunity and development.

“I think it is very important [to have a conference] because Africa is at a crossroad in terms of its history and politics,” said Salo.

The conference will not only bring together constituents in and around Delaware, but will also showcase work being done in the senate and highlight the work Africans and those interested in Africa are doing.

“UD is looking to engage, expand and grow partnerships with universities in Africa,” said Colin Miller, program manager for UD Africa Initiative.

UD’s African initiatives

The University is working toward expanding not only its global presence but diversity on campus. Through guest speakers, classes, study abroad programs, research and more UD is actively engaging in the issues and opportunities of Africa.

As part of the Global Agenda speaker series, Emira Woods, a foreign policy expert with a special emphasis on Africa and the developing world and co-director of Foreign Policy In Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C., spoke to the University community. 

“Africa is where things began, and it’s where things are going,” said Woods.

Woods’ presentation outlined facts about Africa. For instance, of the world’s top 10 fast-growing economies, seven are in African nations, and the highest rate of women’s participation in national office in the world is in Rwanda, where they make up 55 percent of the parliament; in South Africa, the proportion is about 45 percent.

Student organizations such as the Delaware African Student Association, and ONE advocate for Africa and celebrate and share the continent’s culture.

Other opportunities students have include participating in study abroad programs that travel to African counties, such as Lisa McBeth’s program to South Africa, which explores childbirth and women’s health. Housed under the Center for Global and Area Studies is an African studies minor, which introduces students to the continent’s contributions and fosters knowledge about its global diasporas. 

Professors from many disciplines are involved with research or teaching in Africa. College of Engineering Dean Babatunde Ogunnaike and professor Douglas Buttrey teach graduate courses at the African university of Science and Technology in Abuja, Nigeria. 

This summer UD will host the Young African Leaders Initiative, and the Middle Eastern Partnership Initiative focusing on civic leadership. 

The University is committed to diversity and excellence and coordinates efforts across campus that are designed to enhance diversity. 

Article by Elizabeth Adams

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