Malawi’s former President Joyce Banda says in many parts of Africa, young girls are discriminated against when it comes to accessing education and that in many cases, they fall victim to harmful cultural practices.
Banda, who is chairperson for International Sheroes Foundation, was speaking during the ‘International Sheroes Forum Liberia 2018’ whose theme was “Advancing women’s participation in leadership”. This year’s conference was held in Monrovia, Liberia, from 17 to 19 October 2018.
“To build women leaders, it is critical to start by investing in the girl child. My research has established that indeed leaders are born with 30 percent traits and 70 percent is developed throughout the person’s life,” she said.
Banda has spent the last two years as a Distinguished Fellow at Woodrow Wilson Centre in the United States of America where she was researching on “African Women’s Participation in Political Leadership”.
“The paper I wrote and the tool kit I developed as a result of that paper can be found on the Woodrow Wilson Centre website. The issues I discussed in that research paper are very relevant to the topic of today.
“While conducting this research, I came across this scientific fact that leaders, whether male or female, are born with 30% leadership traits and society or environment must add up the remaining 70% in order that they become that leader that they were meant to become,” she said.
Banda added that she decided to do more research on this scientific finding in order to make a case that if indeed it is true that leaders are born with 30% leadership traits.
“What are the chances of this African girl child, born in a typical rural household, locked up in abject poverty but brilliant and born a leader; acquiring the 70% that she requires to become the leader she was meant to be,” she said.
“I therefore approached the Centre for Global Development to do more research on this scientific finding. The African girl child research generated a lot of attention and interest so much so that I was encouraged and funded to write a book titled: “From 0 to 10”; and it can be found on the Centre for Global Development website,” Banda told the Forum in Monrovia.
She said because of the challenges girls face in Africa, they are less likely to develop the 70 percent traits, leaving the 30 percent to waste.
“These challenges have rendered many women unable to realize their leadership potential because the 70 percent which society must shape and motivate is unavailable. It is my hope that decision-makers will therefore implement policies and build programmes that support, protect and promote the girl child.
“It is my sincere hope that our African governments will put more focus and investment in educating girls if we have to create an environment where women can succeed into leadership calling,” she said.
Banda, however, noted that Africa had achieved more than other parts of the world as far as women’s leadership is concerned. She said the country with the highest number of female members of Parliament is in Africa, Rwanda.
“Other African countries making in the top 20 globally in 2017 include Senegal, South Africa, Namibia, Mozambique, Ethiopia and Angola. Africa has seen four female heads of state-Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, Joyce Banda of Malawi, Catherine Samba Panza of Central African Republic, and Ameenah Gurib of Mauritius,” she said.
Banda announced that the International Sheroes Foundation had decided to reward three distinguished men who have demonstrated to support, promote and protect the cause for women. They were President George Manneh Weah, for choosing a woman running mate who is now Vice President, Vice President of Nigeria Prof. Yemi Osinbanjo, for advancing policies and programmes to uplift women and likewise Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo Addo, President of the Republic of Ghana.
Other distinguished guests at the forum included former Liberian President Ellen Jonson-Sirleaf and former Zimbabwean Vice President Joice Mujuru, among others.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :