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A Fresh Vision: Fowzia Haji Adan AU Chairwoman Candidate

WardheerNews Editorial

The African Union (AU), founded in 2002, as a successor to the Organization of African Unity (OAU) established in 1963, was envisioned as a robust framework to propel the African continent towards greater unity, peace, and development. Over the years, the AU has played a significant role in addressing various continental issues that include security, health, poverty reduction, economic development, trade integration and climate change. Yet, it continues to face myriad challenges that impede its effectiveness. The dynamic nature of these challenges necessitates innovative ideas and new leadership to steer the continent towards a more prosperous and stable future.

Fowzia Haji Adan

The African Union presently stands at a crossroads. To effectively address the continent’s pressing issues and achieve the goals of its Agenda 2063 for transforming Africa into a global powerhouse, a shift in leadership is necessary. This shift includes a critical role for women, who have been underrepresented in the AU’s decision-making spheres despite the AU’s recognition of gender equality’s centrality to development. For example, Women make up over half of Africa’s population, and their perspectives and experiences are essential for crafting effective solutions. 

Empowering women leaders within the AU is not just a matter of fairness but a strategic imperative for the continent’s future.The male-dominated leadership has often mirrored the broader political landscape in many African countries, where women have faced significant barriers to political participation and leadership. However, this trend has been gradually changing, thanks in part to global movements advocating for gender equality and the tireless efforts of African women leaders and activists.

Fowzia Haji Adan is one of four candidates seeking the African Union Chairmanship, or rather African Union Commission (AUC) chairperson. Although this round the position would go to an East African candidate, WardheeNews endorses Fowsia Adan because of her unique experience as much as would pronounce Africa’s commitment to Women leadership in key decision-making positions.

A daughter of one of Somalia’s post-independence educators, Fowzia early on shouldered social responsibility which led her to public service.  Among some of the positions she held include Somalia’s first woman Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, member of Parliament and a host of executive positions at the UN and other international organizations such as the Economic Commission for Africa. She established Non-governmental Organizations and served millions of indigent Africans.   

The African continent is blessed with a youthful generation and women leadership is key. About 51% of the continent’s population is women; in 2023, about 40% of the total population was younger than 15 years. It is rich in the labor force in that 70% of the population is under 30. The nurturing role and continental leadership serves much better than old male politicians. Fowzia’s role as the AU chairwomen, if elected, could help the continent pivot to a new paradigm of centering women and children issues. It will also emphasize peace and security evaluated with a more egalitarian lens. 

Fowzia will bring to the chambers of the AU a plenty of experience in managing crises and formulating recovery policies after civil strife. As a former foreign minister of Somalia, Fowzia spearheaded soft but result-oriented and pragmatic diplomacy to reconnect Somalia with the world after a complete state collapse. Her successful election to this position will mark a historic precedent as the first woman in East Africa and the greater Horn of Africa to lead the African Union. Its important to note that Somalia previously held the office of the deputy of the Organization of African Unity by Amb Abdullahi Said Osman 1989–2001 who was a key pillar for the transformation of the OAU into AU.

As a woman, bilingual in English and Arabic, the candidacy of Fowzia is a reflection of the growing commitment of Africa to equity, diversity, and social justice. Her successful win of this seat will take this commitment to implementation.

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