The African Women in Leadership Organisation started as West African Women in Leadership Conference AWLC at Accra Ghana in 2009. Due to the level of interest Africa became included for the first African Women in Leadership Conference AWLC in 2010 at Abuja which was opened by the First Lady of Nigeria; Dame Patience Goodluck Johnathan. The women leaders at African Women in Leadership Conference 2010 reached the resolution to send a strong delegation and advocacy women’s group to visit the national offices of the political parties. And use the national women rally on 21-22 June 2010 to make a strong point for the enforcement for the 35% Affirmative Action for Women.
These results only pressed for more and the Conference went on for the next 3 years in Ghana, Gambia, and Nigeria consecutively. AWLC aroused and built capacity of women for Leadership, and also saw the increasing participation of stakeholders. AWLO reached two milestones in 2014 when AWLC was embraced by the international community and saw its first Diaspora Conference held in USA and the second is a full evolution into an organization as African Women in Leadership Organisation.
The African Women in Leadership Organisation is my legacy, for the women. I had the urge to go for it especially as I kept finding that it captured the interest of women- strangely for the same reason I thought it wouldn’t. Being a man.
As I was going about my business of media as a Consultant and Content Producer for Mnet I spotted a rare need for women to be instrumental to each other’s success, as a means to attain leadership.
I looked around me at board meetings and they were only a handful of women. More glaring to me, was the fact that the women who made it through the door were only committed to keeping those behind the door there. I think for once it didn’t occur to them that success was a function of building networks and support systems. A habit for the men.
Another thing was development. I sought to build capacity for women. An attitude, somewhat create a character or begin a movement. I said men grab leadership by the horn, they spot opportunities, they are not seeking empowerment. How can women covet this?
I said despite that the women have leadership qualities how can they own it and essentially build awareness of their leadership essence. These and many more were my concerns, a need that AWLO would come to fill.
10 years down the line the African Women in Leadership Organisation in summation is a support system- women building networks. It is an experiential leadership development; embedded in our capacity building programs and daring to take the lead as a woman in a chapter. it is a movement to position women for global relevance – creating a platform for dialogue with stakeholders to foster decision making, and actions towards global development. And recently it is a bridge to sustainable leadership; bridging the gap to the next generation, and leadership training for women to become dependable leaders
Moving forward, I am committed to take action to sustain a legacy. First thing I feel accomplished setting up and pushing women to break frontiers in leadership. I am happy that I can spot women driving African Women in Leadership Organisation every day. The Chapters, workplace, committees, projects, all perfectly (wo)manned by women. 2019 will now see a woman – Dr. Violet Arene, as the first AWLO female President.
It’s been 10 years of me commanding the vision, and now it is the beginning of what would be another decade of working side-by-side with women to attain their full potential. Most importantly, it is a call to more men to step foot in my shoes.