New platform launched to galvanize and boost women’s leadership in Africa
We need more women in governance as they occupy a uniquely important role in mentorship and legitimizing the contributions of other women. They prioritize personal development and focus on developing others, supporting the individual and making a real and lasting difference.
“Leadership is not a person or a position. It is a complex moral relationship between people based on trust, obligation, commitment, emotion, and a shared vision of the good.” – Joanne Ciulla (Author and Educator)
At the grassroots level, women have been at the forefront of community peace-building in post-conflict countries, including Liberia, Rwanda, and Burundi. They have also led efforts to counter the Ebola epidemic of 2014-2016 that swept several countries across West Africa. Yet, the continent still presents a mixed picture, as women’s political participation has not translated into the consistent and lasting influence of women in decision-making. In several countries, recent elections saw a regression in the number of women elected to parliament, especially in countries with no temporary special measures like quotas.
According to UNDP (2003), gender equality is central to whether the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) will be met, from improving health and fighting disease to eradicating poverty, expanding education to significantly reducing mortality rates, boosting access to safe water, and ensuring sustainable development. In other words, gender equality and women’s empowerment are important for reaching MDGs in developing countries like Kenya and Sierra Leone
Evidence shows that women are essential to change drivers in achieving sustainable peace and development. The Sustaining Peace Agenda, the Sustainable Development Goals and the Africa 2063 Agenda all identify women’s contributions and leadership as central to finding solutions to poverty, climate change, food insecurity, improving healthcare, reaching vulnerable and marginalized communities and mitigating global economic crises, all of which have a disproportional impact on women. In particular, women’s leadership is crucial to transformative and sustainable peace in fragile, conflict-affected, and post-conflict contexts.
Women’s economic empowerment is critical in developing nations. Women comprise the majority of the world under-empowered is the primary reason why more measures should be put in place to help them to become economically empowered. In Sub-Saharan Africa, the situation is more realistic. Furthermore, women’s economic empowerment substantially influences household, neighborhood, and national livelihoods.
Direct action strategies are actions that demonstrate purposeful solidarity to bring about social, cultural, political, and economic change. Direct action strategies are often used to bring about change in public spaces to bring attention to or demonstrate concern for social justice and equality issues.
Over the years, women have been instrumental in changing the world, devoted activists working for social justice and change through direct action. We now have come to face the unprecedented pandemic that has forced us to intensify our efforts. As we have seen, women have played an important role in the fight against COVID-19, being a pivotal factor in spreading the word about the pandemic and ensuring the safety of their loved ones. Direct action strategies provide a means to act personally and raise awareness in others and contribute to the public conversation.
Direct action strategies have been used by women to draw attention to their unique and under-researched voices and experiences and to call for action on issues that have historically been overlooked. Women have used these direct-action strategies to call attention to underrepresented, ignored, or silenced topics such as racism, sexism, transphobia, xenophobia, homophobia, and ableism while contributing to the public conversation.
There should exist a belief that direct-action strategies, where women (or anyone) can call for people to act, are a simple and effective way to change the world. Like direct action strategies, social agitation strategies amplify the voice of those who have historically been overlooked. With a social agitation strategy, people share their concerns with other concerned participants, e.g., groups or social media platforms. They can then create a deeper sense of solidarity by mobilizing others to support them with action.