While crises can trigger discontent and chaos, they can also provide opportunities for young women leaders to emerge and create positive change. For Amujae Leader Bogolo Kenewendo, taking these opportunities and “having that empowering voice” will be key to allowing new women leaders to drive transformative action.
Speaking in a FireAway interview with Aya Chebbi, Founder and Chair of Nala Feminist Collective, Ms. Kenewendo said women leaders must be bold in seeking to create positive change in times of crisis. By using their unique leadership skills, they can drive the reforms that make their generation “feel appreciated, understood, and accepted.”
Ms. Kenewendo—Botswana’s former Minister of Investment, Trade, and Industry— took her first steps on her leadership journey through access to government-sponsored quality education. After becoming the youngest minister in her country’s history, she took on several senior roles as a global economist and an advocate for gender equity and the protection of children’s rights.
Government decisions to invest mining revenues in development—education and healthcare in particular—Ms. Kenewendo argued, had a significant impact in Botswana:
“The government made it possible that I have access to education, the best education around the world, and that’s because of diamond and mineral revenue management… So general development, I believe, is one of the policies that should be packaged and sold around the continent for mineral-led economies, because reinvestment can really determine the fate of the country going forward.”
Asked by Ms. Chebbi about the experiences that shaped her leadership outlook, Ms. Kenewendo said that growing up in a rural area of north-western Botswana and seeing first-hand how village elders exercised their leadership skills and addressed issues of equity and equality had a major influence on her.
She added that her decision to study economics and shape policymaking around wealth distribution and gender was born from her experience in her home district. She has since strived to advocate for equitable economic development and empowerment:
“What we need to do is move from just being gender-aware to becoming more gender-transformative. That means that policies should have indicators that deal with the disparities between men and women.”
African women, Ms. Kenewendo stressed, must have the right to be active participants in the economies of their countries through “equal opportunities and equal access to creating livelihoods.”
Watch the full discussion here.