On Monday, July 31, Rwanda will join the rest of the continent in celebrating the Pan African Women's Day, which has been annually marked since 1974, in honour of the anniversary of the foundation of the Pan-African Women's Organisation which took place in Tanzania in 1962. The day also serves as a reminder of the pivotal role of African women who remain the backbone of the local economies as farmers, entrepreneurs, traders, scientists, and leaders in many other sectors. Interestingly, this movement was created a year before the creation of the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) - which has since been renamed the African Union – but remains largely unknown, over 60 years later. The obscurity of this important day, which is dedicated to gender equality and women empowerment while acknowledging the Foremothers of Africa who fought for the liberation and development of the continent, speaks to how largely we as a continent have neglected the role of women in our own development. The jury is out for everyone to see. Africa remains under-developed and a basket case over half a decade after attaining independence, to a large extent because of such strategic mistakes; including not doing enough to empower our women. Generally, it is African communities where you will find archaic practices that still inhibit women from participating in developmental activities, and subject them to unproductive activities which is mainly taking care of the rest of family members. It is not uncommon that in some African communities, a girl will be taken out of school to take care of her brothers, while the brothers continue with their education. The girl will then be married off, and continue suffering the same plight in their marital home. With such practices, Africa will not progress, irrespective of the different conventions we assent to or meetings that our leaders organised to find ways of fast-tracking the continent that for far too long has been referred to as ‘the sleeping giant’. Fortunately, countries like Rwanda are progressively turning the corner. For close to 30 years now, owing to a pragmatic leadership, a lot has been done to put the women in the driving seat and this accounts for what the country has achieved in a relatively small time coming from nothing. The impact can however be more meaningful if the recognition of women as indispensable partners in development spreads across the continent and this will require deliberate effort right from the very top.