Malawi former president Dr. Joyce Banda during a high level thought leadership reception which took place at Claridges Hotel in London on Thursday, made a stronger case for the African women submitting that the world will become a better place if women are economically empowered.
“I have always said, why is common sense not common? Women are in majority and not only are we the majority but we are the ones who brought the other half into this world, isn’t it that the world would be a better place if all women were included instead of being sidelined,” argued Banda.
In her case, the former Malawi leader revealed that 75% of unpaid work is done by women. She also observed that there is not only no maternity leave for women but also that there is no equal pay for men and women in most countries.
“World Economic Forum (WEF) has said that at the rate we are going, half of the people of this world, the women are not participating fully in business and it will take 80 years for us to achieve total emancipation of women.
“By not allowing women to get fully involved in business the world is losing $28 trillion. This is the economy of America and China put together,” said Banda while urging different stakeholders to come to the rescue of women.
“In Africa and developing world, when women are economically empowered, the first to benefit is the family and society, they spend their income on family, household improves, and children go to school.
“Economic empowerment of women is crucial to social and political empowerment of women,” said Banda jokingly adding that, “I shall share a case study of what happens when a woman goes into business and succeeds and how everybody else benefits. Case study of a lady I know very well, Joyce Banda.”
Banda also noted that the empowerment of women acts as a catalyst for young girls to stay in school and consequently achieve their full potential.
“When you get money into the household, girls go to school. When they go to school they are not getting married at 14; they are not getting pregnant early; they are not dying giving birth and they have an opportunity to grow up and realize their true potential,” said Banda while highlighting that the situation on the ground is not as she is describing.
“In disadvantaged households, boys are going to school and girls are not. This does not make sense,” said Banda of the realities on the ground in Malawi and most African countries.
For example, Banda narrated a story of her childhood friend, Chrissy, who was extremely bright and was top of the class.
Chrissy dropped out of high school as the family could not raise the $6 required for her to go back to school.
‘’As I am talking to you now, Chrissy is where I left her whilst I went on and on, to where I am today. Chrissy got married at 15 and she recently lost her child to HIV/AIDS.
“I brought Chrissie closer to me and I told her when I started building schools, I made up my mind when you didn’t go to school that I will spend my entire life sending as many girls to school. At this time it was too late for Chrissy but I will educate all your children.
“I built a free secondary school in the village and Chrissy is the one who goes around identifying needy children who need that kind of support and 2 years ago I took Chrissy to New York where she met and took a photo with Bill Clinton,” said Banda much to the clapping hands of the lovely and attentive audience she addressed.
On Maternal Health
The former Malawi leader who during her tenure of office was very active in promoting safe motherhood narrated how she found herself passionate about maternal health issues.
“After facing near death whilst giving birth, I made it my mission to ensure women have all the need to stop maternal deaths,” said Banda while painting a picture of what happens when a woman falls pregnant in the west and in most countries in Africa.
“In the west, when you become pregnant, it is a time of joy and expectation, you tell one another, you rejoice, you congratulate one another, baby shower and all, where I come from it is a time of anxiety, you don’t know whether the person will come back from the hospital.
“I made up my mind that I will fight this and refuse to accept that a woman can die giving life,” said Banda referring to the vigorous successful campaign she mounted to fight maternal deaths when she was Malawi’s president.
Banda disclosed that she has embarked on a project of writing a book bordering on issues to do with women’s participation in politics and leadership, their right to education, safe delivery and many more issues be it traditional and harmful culture that impede the progress of women in a society.
The thought leadership reception which was created by Adoreum—a global business development agency specializing in connecting clients with their target audience and create direct access to qualified prospects—attracted senior individuals from the world of business, politics, finance and philanthropy.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :