Malawi’s former president Joyce Banda on Tuesday, March 21, 2017, addressed some members of the United States Congress on Capitol Hill in Washington DC, United States of America.
She becomes the first Malawian high-profile political leader to officially participate in a panel discussion before distinguished members of the US Parliament since Malawi attained political independence from colonial masters, the British, in July 1964.
In her discussion, Banda shared her own experience in running for political office; the challenges and triumphs of building the people’s confidence in democratic institutions; and the positives of female leadership to developing countries.
Banda suggested ways on how the United States government would contribute to preventing and mitigating violence against women in politics.
The former Malawi leader took the opportunity to share the contents of her most recent publication at the Wilson Center titled, “From Day One: An Agenda for Advancing Women Leaders in Africa”.
In that paper, Banda addresses the ways in which the girls and women who are born to be leaders are prevented from reaching their potential in sub-Saharan Africa, and proposes recommendations to ensure that more African women are represented in leadership and decision-making in government and elected office across the continent.
Banda was invited to the panel discussion at the US Congress on Capitol Hill by the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission to discuss “preventing and mitigating violence against women in politics”.
She was joined by the former Attorney General of Guatemala, Dr. Claudia Paz y Paz, Chief of the Leadership and Governance section at UN Women, Begona Lasagabaster, and the Permanent Observer of the Inter-Parliamentary Union at the UN, Paddy Torsney.
The event was hosted by Congressman James McGovern of Massachusetts, Congressman Randy Hultgren of Illinois, Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, Congresswoman Ann Wagner of Missouri, Congresswoman Suzanne Bonamici of Oregon, and Congressman Salud Carbajal of California.
An entrepreneur, activist, politician and a philanthropist, Banda is the former president of Malawi, making her the country’s first female president and Africa’s second. Voted as Africa’s most powerful woman by Forbes magazine and voted as one of the most powerful women in the world by TIME magazine, she is a champion for the rights of women, children, people with disabilities and other marginalized groups.
She is a member of the Council of Women World Leaders, a network of current and former women prime ministers and presidents, whose primary goal is to use the symbolic importance of women leaders and the substantive experience of its members to support women’s full participation and representation in the political process at the highest levels, and encourage future women leaders.
Banda is a motivational speaker. She has spoken at a number of high-profile international conferences and forums, including the International Conference on Women in Beijing, the American and African Business Women’s Africa Conference in London, the Women Deliver Conference in Washington, DC and renowned universities and institutions of higher learning across the globe.
Continuing her tireless work encouraging women to enter political office and championing the rights of women and the disenfranchised, Banda has taken on a Distinguished Visiting Fellowship at the Center for Global Development, jointly with the Woodrow Wilson Center, where she brings her invaluable experiences as a leader in African politics.
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