AWLC 2013: AKWA IBOM, NIGERIA

The 5th edition of the African Women in Leadership Conference was (AWLC) 2013 was held at the Le Meridien Ibom Hotel & Golf Resort, Uyo, Akwa Ibom, Nigeria from the 12th to 14th June 2013 under the theme African Women Of Worth.

The conference was attended by African women leaders from across the continent in diverse field such as politics, legislature, business, commerce, and all spheres of life. AWLC 2013 was opened by Her Excellency, Deputy Governor of Akwa Ibom State. There were other representatives from the Government, civil society and business.

The conference was supported by the host nation, the Federal Government of Nigeria and the host state of Akwa Ibom.

The First Lady, H.E Dame Patience Goodluck Jonathan, was ably represented by the Honourable Minister for Environment, Mrs Hadiza Ibrahim Mailafia. In her speech, she stated that, “the issue of women rights and empowerment has been on the front burner of diverse discuss all over the world. And yet, if we pause a bit to look around, we will find out that women still remain the most impoverished, vulnerable and neglected members in the society.”

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The Executive Governor of Akwa Ibom State was represented by the Deputy Governor of the State, Her Excellency Lady Valerie Ebe who welcomed delegates and declared the conference open.

Senator Helen Esuene, Chairman, Senate Committee on Women and Children’s Affairs addressed delegates. She stated that the African Woman of Worth must be knowledgeable, ambitious, forward looking, assertive, feminine, and a mentor. That she must have financial independence and create harmony within her home for the proper upbringing of children. Senator Esuene commended AWLO for creating “this platform to build a strong network between African Women for exchange of ideas”. She concluded with a prayer that “this conference open new horizons for information sharing, peace and sustainable development within Africa.” Presentations were made by dynamic and inspirational Speakers with a passion for African women’s leadership, who led impressive and quality sessions on topics such spanning all spheres of life and on issues pertaining to women’s leadership and development. Speakers included Biola Alabi, Senator Jewel Howard Taylor or Liberia, Olajumoke Adenowo, Hajyia Aisha Babangida, Comfort Ocran, Dr Hajo Sani, Gloria Buckman, Prof Uduak Archibong, Mrs Lydia Kpodo, Grace Aiyedogbon and Renee Boateng, The Exhibition showcased items ranging from clothing to beauty products, books and healthcare services as well as local charities. Exhibitants from the Gambia displayed a vibrant range of clothing unique to their country whilst Nigeria exhibitants displayed rich ankara prints and items. Free eye tests were provided with the opportunity for the prescription of lenses.

The conference culminated in an Awards Gala Dinner where individuals who had impacted positively on the advancement of African women’s leadership and empowerment were honoured. Nine awards were made in the area of their Commitment to Women’s Empowerment, Women Changing Lives and Enriching Communities and Giving Women a Platform and a Voice.

Some of the Awardees included Almas Jiwani, President, UN Women for her humanitarian work for women, Gifty Anti, Ghana for her award winning show Standpoint, which tackles difficult issues pertaining to women, H.E Dr Halima Nyako, First lady of Adamanwa State for her championing of women’s issues, Mrs Merit Obua for her work with the women of Bayelsa, Chief Folorunsho Alakija, H.E Mrs Godswill Akpabio, and Justice Muktar. The Executive Governor of Akwa Ibom State, His Excellency Chief Dr Godwill Akpabio was in attendance at the Gala as was the Deputy Governor, Commissioner of Women’s affairs, Chief Justice of the State with representation from all aspects of the government.

In his address, H.E Chief Dr Godswill Akpabio, congratulated the delegates for taking this step towards their further development. He commended AWLO for the aspect of mentorship included in the Communique and urged African women to mentor each other. He concluded by encouraging the women gathered to continue to come together and do their best and described the AWLC 2013 gathering as a great moment for African Women

At the end of the conference sessions the conclusion gathered from all the individual sessions was that African women should never give up in the face of the enormous challenges facing them, but have a vision of the power of women and unleash the innate qualities embedded in all women to lead. After three days of conference and discussion, we concluded on a number of clear resolutions and actions as follows:

• That an African Women in Leadership Committee be set up to monitor and ensure the implementation of decisions taken at this 2013 conference.

• That AWLO Chapters to be initiated by the delegates of each of the participating countries, states and districts to make for continuity and follow up on the implementation of the conference decisions and that Regional Headquarters be designated which will coordinate and synchronize activities carried out in each branch at chapter level.

• That AWLO provide the platform to enable African women to become knowledgeable on issues relation to their leadership and potential.

• That AWLO create mentoring groups where women in leadership positions mentor, sponsor and assist other women who aspire to leadership in political positions, businesses and all other spheres.

• That AWLO will provide leadership for advocacy for all African Countries to adopt the Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa.

• That an African Women Leadership Fund be created, to be contributed to by business women and other stakeholders, to assist women who aspire to leadership positions in their different countries.

• That AWLO provide leadership to advocate for and effectively sensitize and enlighten the African woman on their worth and rights and the need for them to change their attitude and orientation towards themselves and others.

• That AWLO lead in supporting agencies in the initiation of cooperatives to be formed in different states and countries where women at the grassroots are trained in different vocations and craft to make them financially independent.

• That AWLO provide leadership and technical partnership with other agencies in advocacy against cultural and religious practices that seek to degrade and violate the rights of women to dignity, healthcare, right to occupy political positions and other human rights.

• That AWLO leads in condemning in totality, gender based violence against women, especially violence as it disempowers women.

• That AWLO lead to advocate for and ensure that the girl child has access to qualitative and functional education as this is the foundation for women’s leadership and empowerment.

• That AWLO encourage African women in business through its membership to harness the potentials of the rural women in the production and packaging of our agricultural produce for export.

• That AWLO provide leadership training and programs that encourage women leaders to be transformational in their approach to leadership so as to leave legacies for future generations.

• That AWLO collaborate with technical agencies to encourage and train African women in the use of ICT to efficiently manage their time and resources so as to enhance their productivity and effectively impact society.

• That AWLO empower women by continuing to provide the forum for realization of the innate qualities of leadership embedded in all women

This is the Communique adopted by all delegates on 14th June 2013 at the just ended African Women in Leadership Conference, 2013, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria.