ELLEN JOHNSON SIRLEAF

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Women’s Month: Amujae Leaders and EJS Center Leadership speak up in support of women’s advancement in Africa and beyond

Women in Africa and across the globe are striving every day for equality, for their rights to be respected, and for freedom from abuse and discrimination. Gains have been made, but more still needs to be done to clear the way for their full participation in all spheres of life. This year, during Women’s Month, former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, several Amujae Leaders, and EJS Center’s Chief Operating Officer Amini Kajunju raised their voices in support of consolidated action at community, national, and global levels to help girls and women access opportunities for growth and leadership.

Echoing their call for action, the EJS Center emphasized the critical issue of gender-based violence in Liberia in a statement urging accountability and a firm stand across the nation against this form of abuse.

Amujae Leaders Oley Dibba-Wadda, Tejumola Abisoye, and Dr. Yakama Manty Jones explored the leadership journeys taken by women all over the world during a discussion at the World Bank’s Fragility Forum 2022. Together, they discussed the ways in which the Amujae Initiative bolstered their own leadership journeys. Dr. Jones highlighted the careful attention given to the training and mentorship program that helps Amujae Leaders “navigate the space with all the challenges that it brings.” The Amujae Leaders were joined by Madam Sirleaf, who called for challenging the systemic barriers to girls’ and women’s advancement. 

 In an interview with Nigeria’s Business Day newspaper, Amujae Leader Dr. Adaeze Oreh reflected on the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day—#BreaktheBias—saying that women have a duty to support each other and create change in their societies by breaking all forms of bias and gender stereotypes.

Amujae Leader Malado Kaba called for an “awakening” in her country, Guinea, where “women continue to be abused and raped, and children molested,” in an interview with Espace TV Guinée. 

International Women’s Day is not an occasion for celebration, she stressed, but an opportunity to remember and commemorate those who fought for equality “sometimes at the cost of their own lives,” to take stock of what has been achieved, and to draw up future plans. 

This sentiment was echoed by Amujae Leader Isata Kabia and a panel of Sierra Leonean grassroots activists and community leaders—including young women—who agreed that many obstacles to girls’ and women’s advancement must be overcome in their country before they can “truly celebrate International Women’s Day.”

Ms. Kabia emphasized that women are the driving force behind Sierra Leone’s economic development, but are held back by continued gender-based violence and political marginalization. She called for unequivocal support for their rights and acknowledgment of their central role as drivers of change in Sierra Leone. 

Ms. Kabia reiterated this call in an interview with Radio Democracy, where she put the emphasis on helping women become financially independent and self-sufficient through training and business development support. She also advocated for girls’ education as the first step toward their journey as women leaders.

Discussing the effects of COVID-19 on the mental and emotional wellbeing of women employees, EJS Center Chief Operating Officer, Amini Kajunju, joined African women leaders from the fields of journalism, entrepreneurship, and healthcare on a 2022 Leading Women Summit panel hosted by Forbes Woman Africa. 

Ms. Kajunju argued that women must not underestimate their inherent ability “to communicate with empathy and to understand the motivation of everybody in the room.” This, she said, will allow them to play a defining role in the post-pandemic era by creating effective and nurturing new environments for employees, particularly women.

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