Leadership is a love affair, says President Banda

Malawi President Mrs Joyce Banda says ‘leadership is a love affair’  when she was  at a panel discussion on the challenges of international development, democracy and global security in Washington on Monday.

President Banda was joined by  ​​Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, other female present and former heads of state and government at the inaugural Frontiers in Development forum on the Georgetown University campus  organuised by U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

The panel included the President of the Republic of Kosovo, Atifete Jahjaga, the former president of Ireland, Mary Robinson, and the former prime minister of New Zealand, Helen Clark.

President Banda at a panel discussion. On the right is Liberia' s leader. Photo by Govati Nyirenda/Mana

President Banda said she is certain that women look at leadership differently, and that they look at leadership as an opportunity to serve the people.

“And I believe that leadership is a love affair,” said Banda. “You must fall in love with the people, and the people must fall in love with you.”

President Banda said she came out of an abusive marriage and her long-standing goals are to work tirelessly to empower girls and women economically and to promote maternal health and safe childbirth.

She ascended to power on April 7 following constitutional order when Bingu wa Mutharika died in presidenbtial office following cardiac arrest.

Banda has attracted a lot of attention for taking quick action to repeal reperessive laws enacted by the Mutharika regime, sell the presidential jet and  luxury fleet of  government cars.

“Sometimes symbolic decisions, such as President Banda has just made, around selling the presidential plane and the fleet of Mercedes, when I tweeted about this, I got an incredibly positive reaction about ‘there’s a woman in charge,’” said former New Zealand President Helen Clark.

Clark said women tend to make better leaders because they are more directly connected to the needs of their people and because they still more often play a direct role in caring for children and frail relatives.


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