Nigeria sends jet to pick up Malawi’s Banda for First Ladies’ summit

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan on Wednesday dispatched a plane to Malawi to fly President Mrs Joyce Banda to Abuja where she has been specially invited  to attend the 7th African First Ladies for Peace Mission (AFLPM) summit scheduled for 24 to 27 July.

The Malawi leader said she had accepted the invitation to attend the summit which she would also address on Thursday as a woman and as Head of State, to encourage the First Ladies on the continent of Africa to be pro active for peace and tranquility.

Banda, will attend the four-day event  as a “special guest” with all costs being handled by the Nigerian Government.

“In the past we had been ignoring the contribution of First Ladies who also are key to the development of any nations in the world.

“We need to know that they too can contribute particularly to the promotion of peace in African states,” said President Banda on departure at Chileka Airport.

She said Heads of State and government in the continent could take the right path in developing their countries if they worked closely with their spouses.

President Banda will from Nigeria proceed to South Africa where she is expected to hold several meetings including having an audience with South African President, Jacob Zuma whom she said had agreed to meet with, after the African Union Summit and the China- African States Conference.

Banda is expected back in the country on Thursday next week.

Abuja summit

Nigerian First Lady Patience Jonathan,  who is the convener of the event, with the theme “The African Woman: A Voice for Peace,” which is expected to be attended by spouses of African leaders, invited  Malawi’s Banda  to share notes with them on the Concept Paper which has four sub-themes, which include “Advocating the Role of the African Woman in Leadership (inclusion of deserving women in organs of authority).”

President Banda: Jets in Abuja

Other themes are; Overcoming the Gender Barrier (stimulating a paradigm shift in limiting cultures); Increasing Skills and Capacity of the African Woman (developing the voice of peace in places of authority); and Creating Economically Independent Women through Entrepreneurship (skill acquisition, development for a and mentorship programme).

According to the Concept Paper, the main objective of the summit is to facilitate the flow of authentic conversations and ideas that will create powerful new paradigm for the African Woman.

This, according to the Concept paper, is to provide an enduring platform upon which the African Woman’s voice can play an integral role both in the prevention and resolution of conflicts and in the development and prosperity of Africa.

Profile of Banda

President Banda has strong passion for women, children and the under-privileged. She has been involved in development and humanitarian work.

She formed the National Association for Business Women (NABW), an organization that lends start-up cash for small scale business people, especially women, in 1990. In 1998 she successfully negotiated with The Hunger Project in New York to establish the Hunger Project in Malawi. The Hunger Project reaches out to many rural households with sustainable livelihoods activities.

In 2000 she, founded the Young Emerging Leaders Network which aims at enhancing leadership skills among young executives, and mentors female students in school.

In addition, she also founded the Joyce Banda Foundation, which provides integrated rural development services to over 250,000 resource poor beneficiaries in such areas as Free Secondary School for Orphans, Early Childhood Development and Orphan Care, Youth Development, Food and Income Security, Safe Motherhood, Water and Sanitation, Women’s Leadership and Economic Development for Women.

Banda is the first woman president in southern Africa region and the second in Africa after the Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Her efforts at helping to uplift the lives of vulnerable groups such as women and children from the cycle of poverty can as well be engraved in gold.

The President also promotes good maternal health to prevent avoidable deaths of mothers when giving birth or from pregnancy related illnesses.

The AFLPM summit will therefore provide President Banda with a platform to share with her fellow women of substance what she has been able to do to provide opportunities and space to the less privileged members of her country to reach their full potential and contribute positively to the social and economic development of the southern African nation.

The Head of State has been a panellist and motivation speaker at a number of international conferences and fora, including the following the International Conference on Women-Beijing (1995), State of World Forum-San Francisco, USA (1998), Micro-Credit Summit- Washington, USA (1998), WID-SADC Trade Fair and Investment forum Namibia (2000), First Annual Africa & American Business – Gateway for Women in Business, DFID MDG 5 Conference, London (2010), Harvard University (2010, 2011), Women Deliver Conference, Washington (2010) and Clinton Centre, Arkansas, (2011).

She is also the Founding Member of the African Federation of Women Entrepreneurs (AFWE) currently operating in 41 countries in Africa, the Council for the Economic Empowerment of Women in Africa (CEEWA) and Americans and Africans Business Women’s Alliance (AABWA) headquartered in Washington DC where she served as its first Chairperson.

President Joyce Banda is the first female Head of State in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and she is the second woman Head of State in Africa after President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia.

The Nigerian plane that picked President Banda

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