Joyce Banda urges for African women’s empowerment not lecturers from the West: Malawi’s ex-president speaks at Dubai EHIA conference

African women in politics need financial support from the West to help them forge ahead rather than leadership training, Malawi’s former president Joyce Banda said on Sunday, adding that advice she had received in the past had backfired.

Joyce Banda: Former Malawi president says There must be a stubborn link of K577 billion DPP-era cashgate and K20 billion PP-era cashgate

Joyce Banda: Former Malawi president says There must be a stubborn link of K577 billion DPP-era cashgate and K20 billion PP-era cashgate

Ensuring women’s full participation at all levels in political, economic and public life is one of the targets of the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, an ambitious plan to end poverty and inequality agreed by world leaders last year.

Just over a fifth of parliamentary seats in sub-Saharan Africa are held by women, according to U.N. data, but there are wide variations between countries.

Banda, Malawi’s first female president and the second woman to lead an African country after Liberia’s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, told delegates at a conference on African women’s empowerment that a confrontational western style would not work in Africa.

She described how she had once received women’s leadership training in New York, where participants were told to be assertive, stand straight and look people in the eye.

“If I had done that, for example while talking to a traditional ruler in Africa, I would have been rejected immediately,” Banda said, explaining that she believed in feminism and in equal rights for women, but also in “doing things the African way”.

“If you want to take the western route, all you will get is rejection, frustration. Confrontation will never work,” she said in a speech at the Sheroes Forum in Dubai.

Banda described how, following the 1995 Fourth World Women Conference in Beijing where delegates called for international efforts to boost women’s political representation, she had printed a banner for a follow-up conference in Malawi with the slogan “99 Women in Office by 1999”.

But she said this prompted instant resistance from many male politicians who felt threatened about the men who would be unseated in order for the 99 women to take their seats.

“If you want to fight men to get equal rights, you will get frustrated,” said Banda.

Banda, who was in power from 2012 to 2014, runs the Elect Her In Africa (EHIA) initiative which aims to encourage women to run for elected offices and to spur governments to appoint women to key positions.

She said the best way the West could help African women gain political power was through helping their economic empowerment.

“When you don’t have the money, you can’t stand for elective power, not in Africa,” she added.

The Sheroes Forum is a biannual event bringing together African women who are blazing a trail in the public and private sectors to discuss how best to promote women’s empowerment in politics and business.

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Winston Msowoya
Brilliant comments Malawians.I would like to strongly dispute JBs thoughts about men and women.We Africans respect our women more than any race under the Sun.For instance,where she was talking from,was an Arab nation which officially does not accept woman’s supremacy,she did not bring this issue straight on,but looked on when African men are accused of mistreating their women,by the Western minds.During Iddi Amin’s war with Tanzaniia,it was reported that one platoon consists of women only and led by a woman Lt.Major,withdrew from the front lines within few hours of engagements.The Commander In Chief Mwalimu Nyerere authorized this shift because there… Read more »
I really sorry for Africa but I love Africa very much than any other continent. However, it is this wishfull thinking like the one in once former President that has led the West to look at Africa as their PLAYGROUND. Madam Former President, please please I beg of you, if you a Christian, read your Bible and meditate on each and every word. If you are a Moslem then the KORAN will be the best. I need not remind you that our Almighty God, in His own creation realised that differences are bound to be there. Hopefully, you will agree… Read more »
Chipapwiche Kajhalwiche
Chipapwiche Kajhalwiche

Amayi, there is a new tour company in Malawi called Kazhigheti Tours. I saw there buses in the Nation newspaper today. Do you know it?

Is her conscience really clear? Was cashgate her own making or was it merely seismic failure on her part to stop the coordinated looting that took place under her watch? Leaders are meant to be strong and they always live among their people in good times and bad times alike. True leaders are ready to die for their people. Malawi needs true leaders and people are tired of experimental leaders. When we finally get a true leader the world will know. True leaders make things happen even if it means going against political beliefs of close allies. True leaders move… Read more »

get the money and run run run zoona amayi? you needed to balance your advice … there is indeed what we can copy and what we cannot


Clean up politics first and all will be well. Multiparty politics as preached by the West has destroyed Africa. There is unending poverty due to corruption and hypocrisy brought about by multiparty.

The first time I heard about the word corruption as applied in daily parlance is after multiparty was enshrined in our statute books. People go into government to loot and there is no political will to stamp out corruption as almost every politician is corrupt.

The only way to root out corruption, nepotism, cronyism and other bad isms is to find another Kamuzu under a SINGLE party democracy.

Thitherward 'wendo

She’s probably right. If women want political empowerment, the best ‘key position’ to assume is the missionary position.

Masozi Mwenifumbo
We all need to learn from the BIBLE about VIRTUOUS WOMEN!!! We cannot be acting against God’s Word as men and women, and expect to be honoured by God, even if the whole wicked world backs our ungodly characters!!! Compare for example Sarah, Shiprah and Puah, Prophetess Deborah, Naomi, Ruth, Hannah, Prophetess Huldah, Queen Esther, Mother Mary, Mary Magdalene, Evangelist Priscilla on the one hand; with the Women of Noah’s Generation, Penninah, Jezebel, Athaliah, Daughters of Jerusalem years before exile, Queen Vashti, Herodias, Sapphira: AND WHAT COMES OUT CLEAR IN THESE EXAMPLES IS THAT THE GOOD LOT WERE COMMENDED SO… Read more »
Koma Ya

I tried to read this comment but got tired along the way. Capital letters are just hectic.

masa masina

This is a philosophy of Political prostitution!. Do not learn anything from the azungu. Just get their money and run! run! Amayi bodza!!!. The west has la long history and Africa has a lot to learn from the west, both what not to do and what should be done for us to develop.

Nyambalo Jackson

Do you that three quarters of staff at MACRA is Seventh Day Adventist – why is it like this?. This is religious segregation. It begins with Director General himself and Chairperson to Advisors simply because jobs are offered at the church , not on merit. MARCRA jobs are hardly advertised in the newspapers, but they get filled up. This is one of the worst statutory bodies in the country.

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