A US based firm, the Africa – America Institute (AAI) has added another accolade to President Joyce Banda’s belt, this time in recognition of her role in championing women’s rights and business leadership.
Banda was decorated with the award alongside her mentor and counterpart, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on Thursday at a Gala Dinner held at Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York in the USA.
The Malawian leader was specifically singled out for her involvement with rural women and girls through the National Association of Business Women and the Joyce Banda Foundation while Sirleaf was recognised for market women movement in Liberia.
According to one of the organisers, Banda’s award came through because of her strong passion for initiatives aimed at unleashing the untapped entrepreneurial potential of the underprivileged especially women and children.
The president has over the years been involved in empowering women with business plans and grants through the National Association of Business Women and the Young Engineering Leaders Network. The two initiatives are aimed at providing integrated rural development services to over 250, 000 beneficiaries.
Speaking after receiving the award, Banda said she was honoured and humbled to be eligible for the award, attributing it to the support and hard work of women who benefitted from the interventions.
She said Malawi had decided to embrace not only women leadership roles but also create space where they could articulate their vision and aspirations.
“We are currently working at creating jobs for women and girls so that they can actively participate in the development process of the country,” President Banda added, pointing out that at least 30 percent of women live in rural areas.
Banda said there was need for innovative strategies which could help to overcome challenges being in the areas of agriculture, security and other women economic activities.
“Africa needs political will from the president way down to all other decision makers – political will for governance would ensure micro – economic stability,” she noted.
She observed that there many school drop outs in Malawi and in Africa in general who could engage in gainful employment as long as they were empowered with vocational skills training, loan facilities for self – employment.
Banda pointed out that Malawi was ranked by the World Bank as the 17th fastest growing population in Africa with 1/4 of its population living in cities with economic growth pegged at 7 per cent since 2005.
She disclosed that she has lined up a number of activities meant to change the situation of women and the youth which included creation of jobs and wealth for women and youth, encouraging women to support fellow women to get to leadership positions.
President and Chief Executive Officer of AAI, Dr. Thelma Awori said the institute was founded on the basis of enabling the economic empowerment of 5 million women entrepreneurs across Africa by 2020.
Awori said AAI has set out three broad missions which includes provision of resources to the education sector in Africa, establishment of independence in transition period and informing Americans about Africa.
“Statistics have it that there are over 6 million young Africans unemployed which is a potential danger to the region,” she said. “We’ve established a foundation to assist young Africans with tertiary education to continue the growth in Africa.”
Also in attendance at the gala award dinner was Chairperson of the African Union Nkosazana Dhlamini Zuma.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :