AWLC, Atlanta 2014
The 6th edition of the African Women in Leadership Conference held in Atlanta began on 20th through 23rd August 2014 under the theme, “African Women – Harnessing our Strengths, Growing in all Spheres”.
The conference was attended by women from various African countries, the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States of America, spanning the spectrum of all sectors such as legal, economic, political, social, cultural, technological, and other spheres of life.
The 2014 conference was opened by Elisha Attai, CEO and Founder of AWLO. In his welcome speech, Mr. Attai reminded delegates and participants that the driving force of AWLO is to create an enabling environment wherein African women are exposed to the premier opportunity of meeting, interfacing, sharing experiences and ideas, developing business, networking, and exploring vast opportunities for partnering and expanding the frontiers of their vision and aspirations.
Delegates and dignitaries were welcome to Atlanta, Georgia by the AWLC 2014 Co-host, Senator Donzella James. Senator James is a Georgia Senator for District 35. She stated that women were synonymous with the neck on the human anatomy. However, while the neck is not a prominent anatomical feature, it steers the head towards the correct path.
The chairperson for the conference was The First Lady of The Republic of Mozambique, Her Excellency, Dr. Maria Da Luz Dai Guebuza. In her speech, The First Lady said that as women, the seed has been sown. It should now be multiplied and spread to generate positive changes in our continent, and to contribute towards the empowerment of women.
The keynote speaker, Almas Jiwani, UN Women President, Canada reminded the women that despite the progress that has already been made for the protection of women’s rights, local and international barriers still exist, hindering women’s ability to “grow in all spheres”. These barriers include fear, finances, discrimination, lack of confidence, and education. She entreated the women to continue to pursue gender equality since “equality for women means progress for all”. She emphasized the role of ‘one’ in instigating and maintaining momentum in this area.
Other speakers that grazed the conference were Eveline Pierre, Mrs. EkaOkpok, Representative Dee Dawkins-Haigler, Mrs. Josephine Anunobi, Chief (Dr.) Oprah Mason Benson, and Chidi Jacobs. Some of the highlighted quotes for the conference were – “Learn. Unlearn. Relearn”, “Stop. Change. Start”, “Resolve to Engage”, “Balancing through Prioritizing”, “We’ve got the Power”, “Education Sharpens Leadership Skills”, “Youth, a Ticking Time Bomb or Acres of Diamond”, and “Pass it On”. Famous artists like Jennifer Eliogu, Mish, Jemiriye, and Belinda Brady graced the occasion and captivated the audience.
It was obvious in the panel discussion moderated by Prof. Archibong that gender inequality remains a major challenge in Africa and the world at large. All the participants and delegates agreed on the need for continuing collaborations and advocacy to move this intriguing agenda forward. It was also noted that various factors were vital to bridging the gap of gender inequality. These factors include educating ourselves, family, and friends. Registering and voting for leaders that support women agendas. Starting a funding program to bring more women along. Identifying a mentor and becoming a mentee. Encouraging men involvement and gender equality education.
The conference reached the following resolutions:
1. Setup an educational fund to assist AWLO in supporting the knowledge exchange between women in Africa and in the Diaspora.
2. Members at the conference to adopt a mentor/mentee
3. Members to bring at least one person with them to the next conference.
4. The African women in the diaspora to consider wherever possible to mentor and adopt an African American child.
5. Encourage the participation of women in leadership or decision making positions.