ELLEN JOHNSON SIRLEAF

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Women in leadership: a prerequisite to bridging Africa’s trust deficit

With its unparalleled and diverse natural resources and youthful population, Africa is a continent that holds enormous potential and promise. Home to the youngest demographic on the planet, African nations can lean on their youth to drive development efforts and help the continent secure its rightful place as a leader on the global stage.   

Achieving such a transformation relies on bridging the trust deficit between young Africans and their public leaders. This starts by creating an environment of mutual confidence that enables the continent’s growing youth population to access opportunities for education and employment, and to meaningfully participate in policy- and decision-making processes.

However, this trust deficit has grown to alarming levels across Africa in recent years. The continent’s youth are disillusioned by their leaders and disheartened by increased corruption, nepotism, and unfulfilled promises, as Gina Din-Kariuki points out in African Business.

To reverse this trend and put African countries on track to rebuilding trust in their institutions, it is essential to accelerate progress toward equity and inclusivity in all spheres of life, not least in political leadership. In fact, evidence shows that increasing women’s representation in governance can improve the quality of democracy and the provision of policies and legislations that enhance the wellbeing of the whole of society.

When in positions of power, women tend to take more cooperative leadership approaches centered on designing and implementing effective, inclusive policies. From poverty reduction and inclusive education, to stronger health systems and anti-corruption measures, the positive change driven by women leaders reshapes governance and ensures social and economic progress and development.

Achieving equity in public governance is, therefore, conducive to meeting people’s diverse needs across public policy and, as a result, restoring faith in ruling systems and decision-making processes. Yet women remain underrepresented in public governance in Africa. Despite recent progress and some breakthroughs in gender representation in a number of African countries – such as Rwanda, which has surpassed the 50% threshold, and South Africa which has achieved more than 45% – African women continue to be underrepresented in public life. Across the continent, they are systematically sidelined when it comes to development and policy-making activities.

Harnessing the potential of Africa’s youth for economic growth, innovation, and development hinges on the ability of leaders, legislators, and advocates to advance equal representation in leadership. By doing so, they not only give a voice to women and girls as active members of society, but also put governance systems in Africa on a reform path that sees accountability, transparency, the rule of law, and the welfare of all citizens as absolute priorities.

With our mission to prepare women to take up roles and excel in the highest echelons of leadership, we are putting words into action and contributing to advancing equity in governance on the continent. Through our work, including the Amujae Initiative, we aim to support and empower African women leaders as they shape a future for the continent that is defined by trust and good governance.

Read the full article in African Business here.

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