- The importance of empowering women cannot be overstated.
- In the heart of Africa, the resounding call to invest in women as catalysts for economic growth and sustainable development echoes loud and clear.
- Recently, leaders from across the continent and beyond joined to commemorate the achievements, resilience, and strength of African women who continue to pave the way for a brighter, more equitable future.
July 31 marks a momentous occasion on the African calendar—Africa’s Women’s Day.
The day has been set apart to, according to the African Union, “recognise and affirm the role of women’s organizing in achieving the political freedom of Africa and advancing the social and economic status of women on the continent.”
It was earmarked as a day to be celebrated during the maiden conference of the Pan-African Women’s Organization (PAWO) in July 1962 in Tanzania.
The commemoration allows a national, continental, and global opportunity to remember and assert African women’s meaningful role in developing a robust Pan-African essence with shared values, objectives, and vision for the future.
This year, the celebration resonated with the powerful theme: Empowered woman, empowered Africa.
In a webinar held on July 31, 2023, leaders from across the continent and beyond joined to commemorate the achievements, resilience, and strength of African women who continue to pave the way for a brighter, more equitable future.
Grace Kabayo from Uganda, a dynamic and accomplished leader, the Secretary General of the Pan African Women’s Organization (PAWO), stands as a champion for women’s rights and empowerment graced with her presence.
Her journey has been adorned with experience from serving as the Executive Secretary of the East African Region to being senior Presidential Advisor to the President of Uganda.
Ms. Kabayo calls upon Africa to embrace a fusion of traditional norms with the progressive ideologies of today.
She passionately advocates for disciplined, self-committed communities, reminding us, “We have an issue of embedding patriotic Pan-African ideologies into everything we do; we believe the system that groomed our parents and ancestors can groom a better future for Africa.”
The Pan-African women focused on several priority areas: peace and security, agriculture and environment, water sourcing, education and health, and Unity.
“We cannot stand alone as an island; we need unity,” acknowledging the crucial role of men in this journey, Ms. Kabayo expressed gratitude to those who have walked alongside women in making the pursuit successful.
“When the Gender is My Agenda Campaign (GIMAC) for the Maputo protocol was being held, there were men who stuck with us,” she recalls.
With a resounding call for self-reliance, she urged the participants to embrace “sisi wenyewe” to signify our collective responsibility to tackle our issues.
Girls in Tech Nigeria
This non-profit organization in Nigeria is dedicated to supporting women and girls in the technology industry.
With a vision of a future that offers equal opportunities and representation for all, the organization aims to shatter barriers and carve a path of success for aspiring women in tech.
Amarachi Onyemaobi, the visionary President of Girls in Tech Nigeria, passionately asserts their mission: “We are here to bring in more women in tech, a future where women and girls have equal opportunities and representation, where they are supported to succeed.”
Guided by this unwavering commitment, the organization offers a plethora of empowering initiatives.
From capacity building and skills development programs to invaluable mentorship opportunities, Girls in Tech Nigeria leaves no stone unturned in empowering women and girls interested in tech.
But it doesn’t stop there: community-building activities and networking opportunities further enrich their efforts, fostering a sense of belonging and collaboration among like-minded individuals.
The spirit of inclusivity echoes strongly in the organization’s core.
Odera Otaru, the Director of Publicity at Girls in Tech Nigeria, and a radio presenter, echoes, “Aside from your gadget, which is your laptop, internet connection, just show up and follow through, we don’t charge any dime!”
With accessibility as a focal point, Girls in Tech Nigeria ensures that financial constraints do not hinder women and girls from embarking on their tech journeys.
Guided by a noble purpose, Girls in Tech Nigeria aligns its efforts with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 4, which strives to ensure inclusive and equitable education for all.
Adaeze Abigael, the Director of Operations at the organization, shed light on this commitment, solidifying their resolve to bridge the gender gap in technology.
In this thriving ecosystem, they prove that with the right opportunities and collective support, women and girls in tech can achieve greatness, leaving a mark on the tech industry and society.
Investing in women
In the heart of Africa, the resounding call to invest in women as catalysts for economic growth and sustainable development echoes loud and clear.
Mrs. Emma Kawawa, a visionary leader and Founder and CEO, Tanzania Women CEOs Roundtable, knows the transformative power that lies within women’s potential.
With an expert grasp on transformational leadership, Mrs. Kawawa passionately advocates for women’s collective power, trust, and togetherness.
She envisions a future where prominent women in business, selected leaders, philanthropists, academics, civil societies, and thought leaders unite to pave the way for women’s economic advancements and promote social change.
Her words carry a sense of urgency as she stresses the vital importance of women’s financial inclusion.
“Today, women constitute 70 percent of the financially excluded group,” she shares of a statistic that demands swift action.
“We need to speak less and act more,” she urges, calling for a proactive approach to bring about tangible change.
For true economic transformation to be realized, women’s contributions must be recognized, valued, and utilized.
Mrs. Kawawa emphasized that the path to progress lies in the strong voices of African women coming together, planning, working, and collaborating.
It is through this unity that the seeds will be sown. It is important not to leave any woman behind.
Mrs. Kawawa reminds us that women in extractive industries, information, communication technology, and energy sectors are indispensable for Africa’s advancement.
To harness the full potential of our continent, we must combine and amplify each other’s strengths.
Inspiring the next generation
In a powerful panel discussion, Mrs. Lumbie Mlambo, founder and CEO of JB Dondolo from Zibambwe; Dr. Naike Moshi, Founder and CEO of Women in Management Africa (WIMA) from Tanzania; and Dr. Louisa Akaiso, Founder of Women Who Win Africa (WWWA) from Nigeria, shared their journeys of empowerment as they seek to ignite the next generation of African leaders.
For Mrs. Mlambo, her parents’ wisdom laid a foundation for her entrepreneurial spirit.
Her father inspired her to become an entrepreneur, while her mother’s resilience and positive impave teachings shaped her approach.
Her organization, JB Dondolo Inc., strives to provide clean water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) systems and programs in communities of women and girls in Africa and beyond, smashing possible barriers to seamless access to clean water.
This affords the ladies the precious gift of time to advance their lives by pursuing education and personal growth.
“We have a flagship program called The Wider Impact Internship Program (TWIP),” she said.
This program immerses aspiring entrepreneurs into a transformative journey that nurtures leadership skills and emphasizes the true value of community development.
Dr. Moshi from WIMA emphasized the crucial role of mentorship in shaping young women leaders.
By connecting these leaders with accomplished women, WIMA instills newfound confidence and the belief that challenges can be overcome.
Witnessing the success stories of role models inspires and empowers the next generation, empowering them also to conquer obstacles and rise to leadership positions.
Dr. Akaiso echoed the importance of intentional mentorship and nurturing young women leaders.
“We must be ready to deliberately mentor them and look forward to helping and guiding them in whatever path towards success,” she commented.
To increase women’s representation in leadership roles, she advocates for believing in them first, becoming change makers ourselves to lead by example, and offering solutions.
By fostering supportive platforms and leveraging technology and social networks, women can unlock their full potential and access the right support to thrive.
The resounding message from this inspiring panel is clear: Be unapologetically yourself, and if there’s no space for you, create one.
Embrace your voice, take up your space, and get involved.
The journey of empowerment is one of embracing uniqueness and striving to make a difference.
Driving social impact
As the extraordinary event ended, the ripple effects of Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala’s powerful keynote speech on Driving Social Impact: African Female Founders and CEOs as Change Agents, continue to resonate with us.
The Director General of the World Trade Organization (WTO) shed light on empowered women’s profound role in fostering Africa’s development.
Dr. Iweala draws our attention to the stark reality illuminated by the global gender gap index.
“The global gender gap index of the World economic Forum predicts that at the present rate, it will take 131 years to get to equity globally,” she shares.
She emphasized that the challenges are undeniable, but we must alter these statistics.
It is not enough to acknowledge the glass ceiling: we must actively shatter it across all industries, including politics.
The importance of empowering women cannot be overstated.
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When women rise, they bring with them the potential to catalyze unprecedented progress, prosperity, and social change.
The time to act is now!