Women have a crucial role to play in nation building, yet they continue to be vastly underrepresented in political leadership. “If we have agreed to work on improving the outcomes for women in the interests of all humanity, why are we where we are at now?” Amujae Leader Dr. Yakama Manty Jones recently asked.
Joining the West African Leadership Summit, Dr. Jones discussed the ways both individual and government-led efforts could address inequalities and increase the numbers of women in leadership positions worldwide–which, she highlighted, are woefully low:
“21 out of 193 heads of states are female. If we look at FTSE 100 companies, only six out of 94 have female CEOs. If we look at the Fortune 500 companies, only 8% have female CEOs or women in leadership. And same for the economic governance ; we only have about 15 female bank governors around the world.”
Dr. Jones said it was up to governments and policymakers to ensure that we have in place “supportive institutional and policy frameworks… to ensure that they’re actually directed to the women and girls that are the intended beneficiaries.”
Equally important, she stressed, was community engagement and encouraging members of civil society to think in a gender-inclusive way in order to break down some of the “outdated social and cultural traditions” that limit women and girls. To help drive this effort, Dr. Jones called for governments to implement continuous learning and leadership programs targeting girls and young women, not only to empower and educate them, but also to demonstrate to their communities the importance of girls’ education and women’s leadership.
Dr. Jones emphasized that ensuring more girls are learning leadership skills early in life means countries “ be guaranteed … a pipeline of women that are empowered to reach their fullest potential.”
Utilizing human capital development as a core priority of governance is key to achieving the targets set by the UN Sustainable Development Goals. But Dr. Jones stressed that not all efforts must be made at a higher political level to successfully promote gender equity, saying that women should also look to one another for support:
“There are different levels at which we can contribute to ensure that women and girls advance… and more women can become leaders… So I want to end by saying: Women. We are agents of change.”