Africa woman’s key role in governance no longer disputable
Author: Mercy Njoroge
Published by: People Daily
What do you get when you put 30 African women together in a two-week incubation forum aimed at imparting knowledge on good governance, citizenship, promoting accountability and advocacy?
You get African women leaders who understand the value of inclusiveness and dynamism in their leadership as well as transformative leaders ready to bring about equity, equality, fairness and justice for all. This year, the global women movement marks two decades since the Beijing Platform for Action, but with a firm realisation that the narrative of women, especially in Africa, needs to be rewritten.
Why? For years, the active participation of African women in political, economic and social leadership has been challenged by the patriarchal structure that continues to burden Africa with massive corruption and impunity which fuel poverty, disease and civil wars.
Yet women and children bear the greatest brunt of the social ills. Conspicuously absent has been the inclusion of women in leadership perpetrated by cultural barriers, financial drawback and exclusion based on the public versus private domains.
Thus, a majority of women have found themselves locked out of driving the national agenda, decision and policy-making. In the recent years, however, African women have woken from the slumber. We are witnessing a generational shift with their movement unceasingly galvanising support to fan spirited campaigns to rewrite their narrative on governance.
And as the African Women’s Leadership and Mentoring Initiative (AWLMI), facilitated by Urgent Action Fund – Africa (UAF-Africa) programme, concludes its second residency in Nairobi today, it is evident the African woman has been, and will continue, to position herself at the forefront of national dialogue and priorities to change views and impact on community, national and global issues, mentor others to tackle pertinent governance issues, as well as progressively create a pan-African movement of leaders for change in the continent.
The participants were drawn from Cameroon, Cote d’Ivoire, Kenya, Malawi and South Sudan and form the pioneer cohort of women leaders who will join the trendsetters in Africa to break the obstacles that hinder women integration in decision-making organs.
Advocacy, being one of the deeply explored tools of good governance, affirms that charismatic women, for instance the little-known Kenyan veteran freedom fighter Mary Ngunjiri, have what it takes to bring desired change.
There is, therefore, a generational mind shift on the power within women leaders and is a demonstration of just how crucial their contribution in Africa is, to spur development, influence decision-making, change laws and policies as well as influence the attitudes of citizens in pursuit of social justice.
And as the AWLMI participants reflected on their time investment in the last two weeks, there is a collective discovery that African woman has awoken. Let the words of Nelson Mandela never be lost to us: They can take everything from you, but your heart and mind, those you have to give.