The Organisers at UNICAF
Eminent Special Guests of Honour
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen
I begin by acknowledging the honour that it is for me to deliver this Keynote address to the UNICAF and AWLO network, spread across different continents of the globe. Indeed, it has been a rather long time of journeying on this path as far as creating educational opportunities is concerned. If you ask me, I would say that it has been challenging but worth it. Many, including men and women, have had the privilege of equal opportunities to access higher education wherever their countries or continents are on the globe.
That is the very substance that leaders are made of – challenges! As the American business executive, Raymond W. Smith, has rightly observed ‘Administrators are cheap and easy to find and cheap to keep. Leaders – risk takers: they are in very short supply. And ones with vision are pure gold.’
Certainly, it should be no surprise that, on this global occasion, one begins on the note of leadership and gender equity. It interests me to state that the African Women in Leadership Organisation, which I founded and have represented for the past thirteen years, is one that hinged upon a vision of leadership, especially the vision to support women and the female folk at large whatever their areas of endeavour.
Notably, the 2021 International Women’s Day, in the wisdom of the United Nations, is themed ‘Women in Leadership: Achieving an Equal Future in a COVID-19 World’. The immediate implication of this is that the world recognizes the functional and strategic place, placements and roles of women in driving the wheels of social engineering in different spheres of work across the globe.
The advent of the novel coronavirus pandemic more than a year ago, no doubts, took the global world by storm. Global public health systems came under the weight of an unprecedented outbreak of a viral infection of a far-reaching impact. According to a report and statistics, women have been at the forefront of the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic, risking their lives to save others. Indeed, this global crisis has shown that many decision-making bodies, including those established specifically to manage the pandemic, have not adequately reflected a gender balance between women and men.
Today, women are said to account for 70% of the health and social care workforce and deliver care to around 5 billion people. Nonetheless, they remain largely segregated into lower-status and lower-paid jobs and are still under-represented in leadership and decision-making processes. 70% of executive directors of global health organizations are men and only 5% are women in low-income and middle-income countries. Additionally, women health workers are regularly subjected to discrimination, abuse and harassment, a situation that has worsened with COVID-19.
As we have observed, women have made landmark contributions in different fields of endeavors during the global coronavirus pandemic. These evidently include women in leadership, whether in public or corporate governance; in business, trading and micro-enterprises; in agriculture, women have contributed to securing food production and distribution both in rural and urban environments; and in the healthcare frontline they have served actively as nurses, physicians, paramedics, and as pharmaceutical scientists. Still, in the course of the global outbreak, women in ICT have made significant contributions as web and business developers, providing interventions in the fintech sub-sector. Indeed, women have made active impact in the entertainment industry in spite of the obvious difficulties, and in other fields such as teaching and learning, research and development and, of course, in the media sector women have served as gatekeepers, watchers and custodians of normative standards, while contributing to social evolution as necessitated by the global pandemic.
Women have also played key roles at every level of the food industry, where there is a strong gendered vertical division of labour. Most women occupy low-revenue jobs while men work on higher paid management jobs. And with schools closed down, even with both parents working from home, it is the women who are largely dealing with their children’s care, education and house chores, in parallel with their other paid job.
It is therefore timely indeed that the United Nations has chosen to broach the question of the need to ‘Achieve an Equal Future in a COVID-19 World’. There is no questioning that this move for a new debate and conversation on gender equity has been long overdue and women are more deserving of an equitable world today more than ever before. Needless to say, women continue to suffer low pay at jobs they are as equally qualified to do as their male counterparts. They are often seen to suffer stigmatization as they undertake unskilled jobs that succeed to glue together the human societies during the pandemic.
Truly, if only one critical lesson should be learned from the COVID-19 crisis, it would be that women are crucial to quench the world’s population vital needs: health, food security and caring. That is why women’s organizations on the frontline of the response should be represented in decision-making bodies. It is thus instructive to encourage the UniCaf network to also continue to make it a super mantra and a point of commitment to remain at the vanguard of championing this social idea. This is because, as the American educationalist and writer, Warren Bennis, once noted, ‘Managers have their eyes on the bottom line; leaders have their eyes on the horizon.’ This is exactly the point at which the UniCaf network must continually position itself – that is, having its eyes on the horizon of social and gender change and prospecting for a world of gender balance beginning in the field of education.
The global HeforShe Community, of African Women in Leadership Organisation, held its first men-only summit on Building a Value-oriented Family.
The summit which was held on 19th September 2020, had in attendance Heforshe ambassadors from 11 countries. HeforShe is a UN Women Solidarity Movement for Gender equality. AWLO is a UN Global Compact leader committed to promoting the UN Women’s goals.
The task of child care, discipline and values-development has been, sadly, left mostly to the mothers and nannies, with the fathers concerned mainly with the duty of providing for the financial needs of the home.– Excerpts from AWLO HeforShe Men-alone International Smmit
The discussion was led by Mr. Mungai Mfi; Leadership and Strategic Management, Cameroon. The panelists were; Deji Adenuga Consultant, DY Relationship Clinic (Dublin), Arc. Ezekiel Nyaetok; DG, Nigeria First Project, Keorapetse Carl Kalaote; Entrepreneur/Speaker/Consultant (South Africa), Mr. Bren Inyang; CEO Ekido Press (Nigeria), Guy Murray-Bruce; President Silverbird Group (Nigeria), Coach Oscar Emetuei; Executive Director Billion Dollar Group (South Africa).
The meeting highlighted the role of the family in shaping progressive culture, and driving values that remove gender barriers.
Here is the Communique from the virtual summit.
African Women in Leadership 10th Anniversary Conference was held between 19th and 21st July 2018. Here is the Communique and Photos from the event.
Click below to read the communique:
Click here to see more official photos in the full Album of African Women in Leadership 10th Anniversary Conference
It’s the season of African Women in Leadership Diaspora Conference, and delegates are getting set to converge in Atlanta USA this summer. African Women in Leadership Diaspora Conference has in the last few years converged the ‘who is who’ amongst African Leaders, for a discourse to bridge the gap of actualization of African Female leadership. This discourse is well represented with key players such as policy makers, activists, private sector individuals, and gender-friendly men. It is also a time for capacity-building for women in leadership.
The 9th Regional Conference of the African Women in Leadership Organization with the theme ‘Unleashing the Power, Inspiring Greatness’ held at the M-Plaza Hotel, Accra, Ghana from the 29th March – 1st April, 2017. It was a homecoming for AWLO and quite nostalgic as the conference venue was where AWLO started 9 years ago.
Click Here to Download Full Communique