Home Local News AFRICaide, 4W to host International Women’s Day event March 9

AFRICaide, 4W to host International Women’s Day event March 9

2023 International Women's Day (Photo by Dynae Saba)

The 2024 AFRICaide and 4W International Women’s Day, an annual event where women from all walks of life spend a day celebrating women and sisterhood, will be held on Saturday, March 9 at Christ Presbyterian Church on Madison’s East Side.

Women are encouraged to wear purple at International Women’s Day which was held in person and online last year after going virtual during the pandemic.

Emilie Songolo
(Photo by Hedi Lamarr Photography)

“Last year’s event was a hybrid event and it really became an international event in its original sense where we had women from different corners of the world joining us via Zoom,” Emilie Songolo, organizer of AFRICaide/4W’s International Women’s Day, tells Madison365. “We are looking forward to another great event with this amazing and powerful group of women and girls.  

“It’s a lot of work to put this event together every year but it doesn’t feel like so much because we have many hands helping and every time we do it, there are more ideas to make it better and more people joining the planning team,” she adds. “All in all, I’m just overwhelmed with gratitude.”

The 2024 AFRICaide/4W International Women’s Day will have morning engagement sessions, hands-on activities, lunch and networking, and music and movement. Attendees will have the opportunity to participate in discussions with community members engaged in improving conditions for women locally, nationally, and internationally.

“We are going to once again have an All-Day Global Marketplace because that is something that people really look forward to with this event,” Songolo says. “Lunch will be catered once again by a group of fantastic Cameroonian caterers.”

Dr. Linda Vakunta will deliver the keynote address and AFRICaide/4W will present six trailblazer awards that acknowledge the achievements that women have made from the Madison area to the global sphere. The afternoon portion of the program will be live-streamed online.

The All-Day Global Marketplace at the 2023 International Women’s Day
(Photo by Dynae Saba)


“When we gather at an event like this, we acknowledge what is going on in our communities and our state and nation. We express ourselves. We cry together, we laugh together. We joke together and we eat together. And it’s healing,” Songolo says. “Because otherwise, it’s just too hard for us to be dealing with the many issues that women deal with in isolation.”

For more than a decade, Songolo’s AFRICaide organization has been bringing together women and girls from all backgrounds to celebrate International Women’s Day here in Madison. This year’s International Day event will mark the 10th year of the collaboration between AFRICaide and 4W (Women & Wellbeing in Wisconsin & the World) Initiative to partner to host the event. 

Songolo says it’s important to capture the diversity of women at International Women’s Day.

“From the very beginning, I wanted this to be women from all walks of life because I didn’t want people to think ‘Oh, because Emily is a Black woman, this is for Black women,’ or ‘because Emily is from Africa, this is for African women.’ Women from all walks of life really heard me and I think it shows the need for this space.

 “International Women’s Day is also a really good opportunity for people to make connections,” she adds. “People let me know that they met somebody at this event and it has led to something they’re doing now that’s work-related or just a new social relationship. It’s important to have this kind of feedback because the event is sustained by those relationships, which gets people out of their isolation.”

Women gather for a photo at the 2023 International Women’s Day.
(Photo by Dynae Saba)


Songolo stresses the importance of the intergenerational aspect of the event mentioning that they have high school girls on the planning team who offer their time and expertise. “This is put together by all volunteers. We don’t pay anyone,” Songolo says. “We don’t even have a budget. It’s something that we do on a shoestring.”

Songolo enjoyed a long and illustrious career at UW-Madison starting in 1991 and ending in 2022 with her serving as the Senior Librarian for African, Global and Francophone Studies and the Head of International and Area Studies for the University of Wisconsin-Madison Libraries. She founded AFRICaide, a grassroots non-profit organization that strives to reduce abject poverty in Africa through rural development projects, to empower and assist women and girls victims of rape in the Democratic Republic of Congo in rebuilding their lives.

The theme for International Women’s Day 2024 will be “Inspire Inclusion” and the purpose of this event is to bring together women and girls from all backgrounds to celebrate International Women’s Day and reflect on how they can reduce gender inequality in the Madison community and beyond.

“When I see different women joining this work and coming to the event and participating and facilitating the different panels and circles, it makes me very happy,” Songolo says. “I think it’s because the voices of everybody are being heard. To me, from the very start, this is what this event was about — giving a voice to women … especially to women whose voices are not included in talking about the rights of women and conditions of women.”

For more information about the 2024 AFRICaide and 4W International Women’s Day, contact Emilie Songolo at AFRICaide at [email protected].