African Women’s Leadership & Mentoring Initiative

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The objective of the African Women’s Leadership and Mentoring Initiative is to nurture and develop a new cadre of African leaders, well rounded in community, national and global issues through training, coaching, mentoring, networking and research.

UAF-Africa recognises that fifty years after independence, Africa is at a new transition in its development, needing a new type of leadership to consolidate the development gains made and ensure progress especially in the challenging environment of a number of global financial crisis, which are impacting on all regions of the world, Africa included.

The Initiative is premised on the understanding that the conditions of women in Africa will improve only if there is change in the development situation of their nations. The Initiative, therefore, intends to contribute to efforts to bring about change in Africa with a focus on leadership, in its impact on: the development situations in which women find themselves such as incomes; women’s access to resources and power; the dominance of men in leadership and decision making.

The Initiative is a new approach to leadership development in which young women are groomed to lead in a wide range of sectors through coaching, mentoring and exposure to successful leaders, and are equipped and positioned to be effective players in their communities as well as at the national and international levels. These new leaders will thus bring to the fore and in community, national and international agendas the female perspective and dimension to development issues.

This 4-year project is being implemented in two stages. The first phase involves the selection and mentoring of 25 promising women leaders from 5 African countries from different sectors of development. Partner institutions, selected on set criteria of their area of work (including a focus on leadership and women’s rights) provide on-the-ground support in the countries for the mentees to ensure authenticity of the project approach and activities based on the in-country realities, and on broad pan-African principles. These young women are mentored by more experienced and successful leaders and graduates of the Programme are expected to commit themselves to become mentors to younger and new targeted leaders to ensure intergenerational learning and sharing.

Our mentees are from the following countries:

  • Cameroon
  • Cote d’Ivoire
  • Kenya
  • Malawi
  • South Sudan

In addition to being mentored by leaders in difference sectors in their countries, the mentees have an opportunity to attend in-house courses held twice a year whose objective is impart much-needed skills. UAF-Africa will hold these in-house training and mentorship courses twice a year in partnership with the Strathmore Governance Centre ( Kenya) and the Coady Institute (Canada). The two week biannual courses are intensive in-house training camps providing an opportunity for mentees to learn new skills, network with established regional and global leaders and share their experiences in implementing their various projects.

The programme is packaged in order to serve as a model for grooming leadership, whose graduates will establish a movement of Leaders for Change in Africa and is geared to addressing key gaps that continue to cause obstacles to women’s integration and to Africa’s development.

The second phase will focus on expanding the project to other countries and working with partners to multiply and replicate the concept.

The initiative seeks to contribute towards the following:

a) Positioning Gender Equality at the core of national dialogue and priorities;

b) Changing views on women’s capacity to impact on community, national and global issues;

c) Mentoring of leaders well rounded, able to engage on issues in several sectors, apply a business approach to development and place emphasis on women’s economic empowerment;

d) Creation of a pan-African movement of Leaders of Change.

In 2013, the Leadership and Mentoring Initiative convened the inaugural Women Steering Innovative Leadership in Africa International Conference in Lilongwe, Malawi. This conference which took place over three days (9th-11th September 2013) brought together over 300 women and men to discuss issues relating to women leading change in Africa in different sectors. For more information on discussions held during this Conference, please click here: