Malawi’s former president Joyce Banda last Thursday presented a Keynote Address at the 2016 ‘Women’s Power Lunch’ in Lagos, Nigeria with the theme “Women in Solidarity: A New Paradigm for Inclusion”.
She told the gathering that she was pleased that the organizers of the annual event, Murtala Muhammed Foundation, continue to “tirelessly work on sustaining the current wave of women in leadership positions in Africa and championing policies of inclusivity on the African continent”.
Nigeria’s former Head of State, Olusegun Obasanjo was also in attendance. In his address, he hailed Banda for the active role she continues to play to support and promote women and women leadership in Africa.
Obasanjo is the Chairman of the Murtala Muhammed Foundation. The Foundation is run by Mrs. Aisha Obedeya, daughter of the late Murtala Muhammed, who was President of Nigeria in the 1970s.
Former President Banda said she cordially accepted to address the gathering because “where issues of women and girls are being discussed, it is natural for me to dedicate my time to contribute to the promotion and safeguarding of the rights of women and girls in Africa”.
She noted that it is “abundantly clear” that women face the full blunt of poverty, diseases and climate change, among.
“They have limited access to means of production such as land, financing and technologies. They are discriminated against at workplaces and in public life in general. They are underrepresented in policy making circles. The list goes on and on and the picture despite some strides made in some areas remains less inspiring and remains wanting,” she said, adding that the situation simply cannot be allowed to go on but be redressed and reversed.
“As women leaders, it rests upon us to take a leading role in making this happen. We need to ensure formulation of deliberate policies and programmes that benefit women,” she emphasized.
Banda said these policies and programmes must equip the woman with necessary business acumen; necessary marketing skills; necessary business management skills; and, above all, give her access to market and financing, adding that the people to make all this happen “are you and I as African women leaders”.
She said it was incumbent upon women leaders to ensure the elimination of all policies, harmful practices, beliefs, traditions, customs and systems that form the genesis and perpetuate exclusivity policies and tendencies against women.
Banda said meaningful success, in this regard, would be achieved when political leaders involve chiefs who are the custodians of tradition and culture, citing her own experience when she was Head of State when maternal mortality significantly reduced through the involvement of traditional leaders.
Indeed, many African women are caught up in the vicious cycle of poverty resulting from lack of income, education, poor health, maternal mortality and HIV/aids, among others, she said.
“I call upon and encourage African leaders, especially Heads of State and Government, the clergy, civil society and the media to step up efforts to ensure the protection and development of the girl child in the context of the recently adopted United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
“I personally believe that governments and nations must strive to achieve the full implementation of the SDGs if the war against poverty, inequality, injustice and adverse effects of climate change is to be truly won by 2030”, said Joyce Banda.
She also said that the international community must remain vigilant in protecting girls against early and forced marriages, unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, gender-based violence, female genital mutilation and HIV and AIDS, among others.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :