MK Avraham Neguise (Likud) on Monday met at the Knesset with a delegation of prominent women from several African countries, including women from academia and education, as well as members of parliament, members of political parties and one journalist.
The African delegation is visiting Israel as part of the UN Women initiative, established in 2010 by the United Nations General Assembly and the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women. UN Women – Africa, one of the largest branches of this initiative, works to “support regional gender-responsive measures to promote women’s leadership and participation in politics, government, business and society and to influence regional and national legal frameworks and policies to increase women’s leadership and political participation.”
MK Neguise noted that the 20th Knesset includes a record number of women members, and encouraged his guests “as leaders in your countries, to continue with your activity.”
Neguise, an Ethiopian Israeli, told the women that as MK he works to strengthen relations between Israel and Africa. To this end, he recently established the Lobby for Relations between Israel and African Countries, which he heads. Neguise also chairs the parliamentary friendship groups of Israel and Ethiopia, Ghana, Ivory Coast, and Rwanda.
“I believe that the meeting between Israeli technology and the fertile African soil can effect change in Africa and strengthen the ties between Israelis and Africans,” Neguise told the delegation members, pointing out Israel’s advanced capabilities in the fields of irrigation, desalination, solar energy, medicine, education and tourism. “If we develop cooperation in these fields, both Israelis and Africans will benefit,” he promised.
Neguise, who serves as chairman of the Knesset Committee for Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Affairs, noted the importance of Jewish immigration to the strengthening of Israeli society, and said part of the committee’s duty is to advance equal opportunities for recent immigrants in education, employment and housing. He noted that part of the challenge stems from the fact that 90 percent of Ethiopians who immigrated to Israel came from rural areas, “so there are economic, cultural and professional gaps.” In order to narrow these gaps, he said, Israel provides after-school classes for Ethiopian students, vocational training for adults and housing assistance for immigrant families.
While in Israel, the African delegation members are taking part in a leadership course organized by Israel’s Agency for International Development Cooperation, a division of the Foreign Ministry. The course is being held in cooperation with Singapore.
Click here for a list of the African delegation members.