Malawi’s former president Joyce Banda was on Friday the guest of honour during the innaugural New African Woman Awards ceremony in London where she shared the platform with Jeanine Mabunda (Special representative of the Republic of DR Congo on Sexual violence and child recruitment) and delivered a powerful presentation reflecting on women leadership in Africa, the challenges women leaders are facing and the future of women leadership.
New African Women Forum observes that African women have been instrumental in shaping the African society and are an important force for development- as consumers, mothers, employers, employees, leaders and entrepreneurs arguing that statistics have clearly indicated that there is a direct correlation between the prosperity of a nation and empowerment of women.
However, the Forum observes that progress made to enhance gender equality has been rather slow and this in turn has affected ability of the continent to achieve its full potential.
t was against this background that Banda was invited to share her experiences on women leadership, herself being one of the few women in Africa who rose at the pinnacle of national leadership in Malawi.
During her presentation, Banda noted that “women leadership is under attack.”
The former Malawi leader cited many cases around the World to back her claim singling out Australia where a female leader was scandalized by being called such names as a “Witch, Chicken.”
“It is the treatment we are getting, the abuse, the smear campaign against women that are discouraging women from getting into leadership position,” said Banda adding that during her time as President, it was surprising to note that “it was men against women through women” revealing that fellow women were being used by men to scandalize her in the media.
However, despite blowing the trumpet loud on the threats women leadership is currently facing, Banda was emphatic when she declared that women have a place in the leadership stating that women are in majority.
“We must say today here that enough is enough and we must say there must be nothing about us without us. When people are discussing issues of women; we must be sitting at that table. We must re-awaken and strengthen the women movement for the next generation,” Banda said passionately.
Asked by the moderator of the panel discussion on what would be the way forward to empower households across Africa and accelerate development, Banda noted that women and girls can be liberated through business and education respectively.
“The moment the woman is running business at household level and she has income, the girls in that household are going to school,” submitting that this prevents girls from marrying at early stage, prevent the HIV AIDS infections and also leads to a reduction in deaths during delivery.
Banda closed her remarks by advising a generation of young female leaders to be servant leaders.
“Leadership is a love affair, you fall in love with the people you serve and they fall in love with you and when that happens, nobody can bring you down because they will always stand by your side,” said Banda.
“We need to strengthen the Womenws Movement. We need to encourage and support fellow women when we get into leadership. We must realise that there is growing concern globally that there is violence against women in politics. This is the reason why Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright who is currently the Chair of NDI will be launching a Campaign to Stop Violence Against Women in Politics on the17th of March at the UN during the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW).
“I am personally also concerned about the increase in the abuses against women in public and political office. Women’s leadership is under attack globally,” said Banda citing examples such as Australia, Thailand, Phillippines, Burma, Zimbabwe, Central Africa Republic, Argentina, Brazil, Chile and even the United States of America.
In her article posted on CNN, Madeleine Albright WHO served as U.S. secretary of state from 1997 to 2001, wrote: “Through the decades, female leaders have been pushed down, shoved aside and beaten up. Too many still suffer from harassment, intimidation and violence simply for being female and politically active. These horrific acts — whether directed at women running for office or those simply lining up to vote — are intentional efforts to demean and restrict the political participation of an entire gender.”
The New African Women’s forum brought together over 200 leaders from business, academia and civil society, as well as key decision makers from the public and private sector.
Notable participants included Bineta Diop (President, Femmes Africa Solidarite; African Union Special Envoy on Women , Peace and Security), Dr. ObiageliEzekwesili (Founder of #BringBackOurGirls, Co-founder, Transparency International and Former Vice President of the World Bank), Hon. Hannah Tetteh (Minister of Foreign Affairs and Regional Integration, Ghana), Her Excellency Monica Geingos (First Lady of Namibia), Dr. NkosanaMoyo (Founder and Executive Chairman, Mandela Institute for Development Studies) and Razia Khan (Chief Economist for Africa at Standard Chartered) to name a few.
Through a combination of panel discussions, case-study presentations and networking breaks, the Forum offered a unique platform to meet, network and share the challenges, experiences and success stories of the African Women who are changing the game on the continent.
African Union Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and the African Development Bank’s Geraldine Fraser-Moleketi, both former South African Cabinet ministers, each bagged an award.
Dlamini-Zuma won the New African in Politics and Public Office award for being the first woman to lead the AU and putting women issues at the forefront.
New Africa Womens Awards and Forum was launched by IC Publications.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :