Amujae Leader and Member of Parliament in Ghana Dr. Zanetor Agyeman-Rawlings recently joined a panel discussion as part of the recent High-Level Virtual Forum on Women in Governance and Political Participation (WGGP): Enhancing African Women’s Role in Leadership. The panel focused on experiences, lessons, and policy imperatives for enhanced women’s participation in governance and gender parity in leadership, including in the context of COVID-19 response.
Dr. Agyeman-Rawlings was joined by Vice President of Liberia Jewel Howard Taylor and Commissioner for Social Affairs at the African Union Amira El Fadil. The panel was moderated by Bience Gawanas, Under-Secretary General, and Special adviser on Africa to the United Nations Secretary-General.
As part of the discussions, Dr. Agyeman-Rawlings spoke of the different perspectives she has brought to her own response to the COVID-19 pandemic. She highlighted her experiences formed as a medical doctor, as a mother, and as a member of parliament, while remembering the need to view people as one connected group at equal risk from the virus:
“One of the important qualities is the ability to see people, as people. Not to see them as one ethnic group first, or to see them as one political party first, but to see them as people, all of whom are at risk when it comes to this disease.”
Dr. Agyeman-Rawlings also spoke about the need to share information in jargon-free language that can easily be understood by everyone, to avoid people feeling, “this doesn’t apply to me.” Additionally, she recognized the challenges in dealing with the pandemic in a complex environment where there are multiple challenges posed by interactions between different members of society.
Regarding the need to promote women’s participation in leadership—both in politics and the private sector—Dr. Agyeman Rawlings set out the need for policies to ensure their place at the table:
“The reality is we cannot proceed without having that balance forcibly put back…it won’t happen by default. So, we need to look at a case of some form of affirmative action…This should not just happen within the political parties, it needs to happen across boards, corporate society, across the civil sector and everything else because we are really not seeing enough women.”
You can watch the full proceedings from the Virtual Forum here. The panel discussion begins at 39:20, and Dr. Zanetor Agyeman-Rawlings speaks from 1:04. Former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf also spoke at the event. Read more about her participation here.
The event was organized by the African Union Commission through the Department of Political Affairs. In collaboration with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the AU Department of Political Affairs is leading the development and implementation of an action plan to promote women’s equal representation and participation in governance. The proposed initiative contributes to the governance pillar of the joint AU-UN African Women Leaders Network (AWLN), of which President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is a Patron.