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 CNS Story:

MAATHAI-MASS Oct-17-2011 (300 words) With photo. xxxi

Archbishop Tutu: Africa must shun anti-women practices

By Joseph Njuguna
Catholic News Service

NAIROBI, Kenya (CNS) -- Africa should shun cultural practices that prevent women from advancement, retired Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu said at a memorial Mass for Wangari Maathai, 2004 Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

But Archbishop Tutu, the 1984 Nobel laureate, said Africa has every reason to celebrate the "few successes" it has made in the area of empowering and promoting its women.

He spoke Oct. 14, one week after two Liberian women were among three winners of the 2011 Nobel Prize.

"Let us -- as we mourn the late Professor Maathai -- thank God for this, while we pray for more women's achievements on the African continent," Archbishop Tutu said.

He said that even modern sayings such as, "Behind every successful man is a women," were detrimental to women.

"Whoever said our women can only be behind men and not either on side or in front?" he asked.

Nyeri Archbishop Peter Kairo presided over the memorial Mass for Maathai.

"In all aspects, she has fought a good fight in terms of environment, peace and justice and democracy. We praise the good Lord Jesus Christ for the gift of the late Professor Maathai," he said.

Maathai, a Catholic environmentalist and political leader who became the first black African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to empower women to work for environmental, economic and social justice, died Sept. 25 after a bout with cancer. She was 71.

She was awarded the 2004 Peace Prize for her efforts in founding the Green Belt Movement and on behalf of human rights in challenging former Kenyan dictator Daniel arap Moi.

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf; Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman, a Yemeni activist who became the face of her country's 2011 uprising, were the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winners.


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