Women are an asset to the economy of African nations and can bring added value to the continent’s development.
As Director of Research and Delivery at the Ministry of Finance in Sierra Leone, Amujae Leader Dr. Yakama Manty Jones has gained extensive experience in policy development and research related to women’s economic participation.
In a recent discussion on the African Passport podcast hosted by Godfrey Madanhire, Dr. Jones emphasized the importance of an inclusive economic environment in Africa:
“Women and girls make up more than half of the world’s population… So how can you continue to underutilize your most common assets? It just doesn’t make sense.”
She added that she strives to improve the prospects for women and girls through her work by creating holistic support mechanisms that take into account their education, healthcare, safety, and livelihood requirements.
For Dr. Jones, women’s participation in decision-making must not be limited to public governance but should extend to the home and the workplace. Women need to enjoy total agency in order to have full access to economic life. For this reason, her work in government has focused on providing a comprehensive approach to women’s inclusion:
“There are lots of things in my work with women that I have always tried to bring to the front and help change mindsets, a different perspective to the conversation.”
Men are primary allies in the battle for inclusion, Dr. Jones argued, and must be educated on the significant potential that women have “if they are empowered and given space and support.”
Asked about the state of public service delivery in Africa, Dr. Jones said that a spirit of transparency and accountability must prevail, not only among civil servants but also among the population at large. True leadership, she added, relies on integrity and a sense of responsibility—an approach she applies in her own leadership journey.
Dr. Jones also touched on her work through the Yak Jones Foundation, which promotes literacy and numeracy skills in Sierra Leone by supporting schools with learning materials and libraries. Her mission, she said, was born out of a belief in the transformative power of education:
“There’s lots of evidence that education is among the greatest investments that you can make in an individual to contribute to increasing their chances of being productive in the future.”
Listen to the full interview here.