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IWD2021: BAO 20 African Women Choosing To Challenge The Status Quo

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IWD2021: The International Women’s Day is marked annually on 8 March around the world celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women.  The theme for the International Day 2021, “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world” and campaign theme #ChooseToChallenges, celebrates the tremendous efforts by women and girls around the world in shaping a more equal future and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, Alaba Ayinuola reached out to 20 inspiring African women across the world to share their thoughts on the IWD2021 theme. Here is what they said;

 

1. Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, 6th and First Female President of the Republic of Mauritius: “I have always challenged the status quo. I have never walked the beaten track but made my own. Today 8th March I challenge structures and stereotypes that hold women back. I challenge those women who don’t support each other preventing us to create this great sisterhood of women.. much needed for our advancement..”

2. Oulimata Sarr, Regional Director West and Central Africa at UN Women: “The COVID-19 pandemic has taught us something undeniable: leadership diversity makes a difference, and the pandemic response in countries led by women has captured the headlines. Yet, research on the theme of this year’s International Women’s Day “Women in leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world” reveals that only three countries in the world have 50% or more women in parliament. Globally 119 countries have never had a woman leader as a head of state or head of government. At the current rate of progress, gender parity will not be reached in parliaments before 2063, in ministerial positions before 2077 and in the highest positions of power before 2150.”

3. Gugulethu Ndebele, Executive Director at Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls (OWLAG): “What we see in the world today, the gender bias, inequality, discrimination, patriarchy etc., is because of choices and decisions that have been made over time. The fact that nothing seems to change, in my view, is because there is a collective and individual failure to consistently challenge and call out these biases. The fact that, in 2021, women still experience high levels of violence and abuse is a collective and individual failure to call out the systems that allow it to happen and the individuals that perpetrate these atrocities. And so, it could be that this year’s theme is our Call to Action. Our call to change our future and #ChoosetoChallenge discrimination, inequality, GBV, patriarchy and maybe, just maybe, our children will inherit a better world.”

4. Chinwe Egwim, Economist, Author and Advocate:Women’s collective voice is still faint when it comes to policy direction and decision-making across Africa. The need to empower women is fundamental to economic development. The influential role of gender equality on economic growth is directly linked to the participation of women in the labour force. When women are excluded from the workforce, economic resources are wasted. Efforts should be made towards supporting female employees at inflection point by assisting with reducing obstacles women face 4-5 years into their careers. High performing female employees should have some level of direction towards roles and functions that have a direct path to senior leadership roles.”

5. Dr. Tebogo Phetla Mashifana, CEO, Southern African Women in Leadership: May we not be blind to the inequalities, inequities, diversity, and social exclusion in our environment and communities. Now more than ever, the world is looking for women who can stand bold at the front line and say it is not only your struggle but our struggle. We will win together, and we will win by carrying each other. Women let us continue to lead with compassion and empathy.” 

6. Phumza Dyani, CMSO, BBI, & Founder, PANFID:I #ChooseToChallenge ‘Enough about policies, we want to see tangible action and results. I challenge the women to use their collective commercial power to make bold statements of change they want to see. We also challenge men who are with us to show bold moves and not just lip service.”

7. Adesuwa Okunbo Rhodes, Founder & Managing Partner, Aruwa Capital Management: “I choose to challenge the status quo regarding African women accessing capital. We are the most enterprising women in the world but face a $42 billion funding gap in comparison to male entrepreneurs. This funding gap has been further exacerbated by the effects COVID-19 has had on women. Through my fund, Aruwa Capital Management, we are one of the few African women owned and led early stage growth and equity gender lens funds in West Africa intentionally investing in businesses that are for women or by women. By showcasing the outsized returns and immense social impact we deliver through our investments, we aim to change the narrative for African women accessing capital in the years to come. We are challenging the status quo and changing the narrative for women by being a capital allocator. Instead of begging for a seat at the table, we have created our own table where African women are decision makers and capital allocators.”

8. Temi Marcella Awogboro, Investor, Board Director & Advisor: “As an investor in the healthcare industry, I have witnessed first hand how women have stood at the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis, as health care workers, caregivers, innovators and as some of the most exemplary and effective leaders in combating the pandemic. It is no coincidence that the countries most successful in stemming the tide of the COVID-19 pandemic and responding to its health and broader socio-economic impacts, have been led by women… Read More

9. Ashaba Faridah, Pilot & CEO Bambino Life Foundation: “My message to the women out there this women’s Day is; Choose to challenge the harmful stereotypes imposed on us by society, believe in yourself and know that you have so much more offer to this world just like everyone else and more importantly by choosing to challenge and standing for what you believe in, you pave a clear path for the generations of women to come.”

10. Saibatu Mansaray, Retired US Army Officer & Founder, The Mansaray Foundation: “A challenged world is an alert world and this International Women’s Day The Mansaray Foundation is challenging our leaders, our supporters, and the global healthcare community to join the fight for a healthier Sierra Leone. 1 in 73 mothers in Sierra Leone will die in 2021 alone from preventable childbirth complications, making Sierra Leone the most dangerous place in the world to give birth. The need to improve access and quality of care is obvious but to bring about that change, we’ll need everyone to raise their hand and take responsibility for the inequalities that exist in our global healthcare system.”

11. Margaret Adekunle, MBA, Banker, Diversity & Inclusion Advocate: “A woman should not have to choose between raising her kids,  a family and having a career. As a woman and a Black leader, there are days that I take my kids to work when there sick rather than staying home to care for them because of the fear of loosing my job. As a woman and a Black leader, I have learned a lot from corporate Traumas and Triumphs. Therefore, I speak from lived experiences. My voice is my gift and my advocacy for minorities in the workplace is my calling. I will continue to challenge “The Norm” for the greater good of “The silent Minorities.”

12. Belinda Kendall, Founder of Promise Media Group, LLC: “International Women’s Day The COVID-19 has had profound effects on every aspect of life and one year later, we have yet to shake its hold on our world. It is no surprise that women, especially those from low-income and minority backgrounds, have been disproportionately affected by the global pandemic. This year’s Choose to Challenge theme is a call to action to address the gross inequality in our within our communities. We must stand together to advocate for women who are on the front lines at hospitals, working high risk essential jobs, and those at home that have been left bear the burden of governmental failure as they support their loved ones through these trying times. Together we can make a change to ensure the safety of our world when we choose to challenge racial and class inequality, government complacency, and sexism.”

13. Dr. Jumoke Kassim, CEO, Naturescape Consulting Ltd: “The 2021 Theme of the International Women’s Day, “#Choosetochallenge” advocates that we stand in to challenge everything against inequality and bias against women. I stand in to Choosetochallenge in several ways against unfair statuesque. In the same vein, we can choose to challenge everything against sustainable living and lifestyle which can improve our health and lifestyle to shore up our immunity against Corona Virus so we can reduce and eliminate underlying illnesses that gives the virus leverage to grow. Let’s choose to live and eat healthy and cultivate a sustainable lifestyle as women and as families. It will be our greatest weapon against Covid-19. Let’s #Choosetochallenge!

14. Najwa El Iraki, Founder & Managing Partner, AfricaDev Consulting: “Celebrating women’s day means celebrating their contribution and valuing their input to better empower them. I take this opportunity to thank Nada Cheddadi, our Business Development Analyst at AfricaDev for her dedication, agility and strong work ethics. It is a real fulfillment to see that across Africa, successful women #choosetochallenge stereotypes, injunctions and gender roles to pursue their own careers and personal / professional endeavors. Let us all support each other.”

15. Oyetola Oduyemi, Director, Public Affairs (Africa Region) The END Fund:I am really glad to lend my voice to this celebration of women everywhere, on this auspicious occasion of the annual International Women’s Day commemoration, 2021. I celebrate both women winning, and women struggling but pushing through. I identify with women that have borne the brunt of the ongoing…..Read More

16. Elfreda K. Sheriff, MBA, MSc, Founder, KilSah Consulting: “Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world would mean putting women and girls first. Concerted efforts must be made to remove the barriers that limit women’s full participation in the economy. Governments must commit to providing girls access to education, so they can fully participate in our society. According to UN Women, “up to 70% of women and girls do not have mobile devices, Internet, and digital literacy”. We should CHALLENGE THE SOCIAL NORMS that restrict women and girls from achieving their highest potential and participating fully in society.”

17. Meseret Haileyesus, CEO of Canadian Center for Women’s Empowerment (CCFWE): “I #ChooseToChallenge Economic abuse and injustice that prevent women from achieving their highest potential”

18. Munwangari Cynthia, co-Founder, Ukosokoni: “The only way to empower a woman is to provide her financial freedom! Happy International Women’s Day to my beautiful Sisters. I #ChooseToChallenge”

19. Masego Moalosi, CEO, Moalosi Media: “For this year’s International Women’s Day, I’ve decided to set a goal for myself to meet more women who share their dreams and thoughts, mentor young women, and make mistakes. The allure of making mistakes is that they have the uncanny ability to turn you into something stronger than you were before. I’d rather be sorry for what I’ve tried than for what I haven’t.”

20. Crescence Elodie Nonga, Founder of WETECH & EN Group: “This theme gives the chance to women to bring a significant change to their conditions, their rights, and their inclusion in the development of their community. In a period of crisis, women should more than ever be considered as big allies and great contributors to the collective efforts aiming to recover from the pandemic. In a Covid-19 world, no woman should be left behind, marginalized, or excluded. Women have to be more than ever encouraged to make their voice count with the assurance of bringing positive economic, social, and cultural changes to the world.”

 

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NGOs - SDGs

Epson Egypt puts sustainability goals into action following COP-27

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Epson has highlighted that the company is committed to becoming carbon negative and underground resource-free by 2050, as outlined in Epson’s Environmental Vision 2050.  Globally, Epson is investing more than €770 million in sustainable innovation and developing new technology to reduce environmental impact.

With the principle that innovation enriches lives and helps create a better world, Epson has partnered with five educational institutions in Egypt including Face for Children in Need, Nahdet el Mansouria, Educate Me Foundation, Man Ahyaha, and Alwan Wa Awtar, providing them with a range of 100 eco-friendly ink tank printers in total. This initiative enables teachers to create tailored lesson plans and worksheets, allows children to take home a range of learning printed material, and reduces energy consumption through Epson’s Heat-Free technology.  During COP-27, Epson finalised an additional donation of printers to Misr Elkheir Foundation to support further learning opportunities for students in need.

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The education donations are in line with Epson’s commitment to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, specifically number four – quality education – which aims to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education, and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all.

Epson recently conducted research amongst decision-makers in Egypt which found that 50% of survey respondents anticipate their printing needs will increase in 2023 and 62% stating that printing will become more important in the new year. Specifically in the education sector, 94% of participants said that it is essential for teachers to have access to a printer, making Epson’s recent donations to schools in Egypt even more timely.

Demonstrating the growing importance of sustainability for organisations in Egypt, 63% of survey respondents said that sustainability is a key part of their investment in new technology. More than half of respondents want to invest in energy efficient technology, while 71% believe that controlling the energy consumption of technology will become a key issue in the next 12 months. 

Commenting on the survey findings following COP-27, Neil Colquhoun, Epson’s Vice President, CISMETA, said, “Epson’s participation at COP-27 underscored the progress that Egypt is making toward sustainability and its importance to the nation and region.  This trend was highlighted in Epson’s research, which shows a growing appetite for energy efficient, cost effective and easy-to-use technology solutions.  As part of our mission to improve lives in communities we serve, a number of educational institutions across Egypt and their students have enhanced access to learning materials through Epson’s donation of EcoTank catridge free printers – an initiative that will continue to expand.”

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Musonda Chikwanda: Driving the Girl Up-United Nations Foundation in Africa

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Musonda Chikwanda Regional Manager, Africa – Girl Up-United Nations Foundation

Girl Up is a girl-centered leadership development initiative, focusing on equity for girls and women in spaces where they are unheard or underrepresented. It believes when girls and women are in positions of influence, they work to create a more just and equitable world for everyone. Girl Up operates a global network of regional affiliates reaching 150,000 girls in 130 countries. The initiative delivers evidence-based leadership development training through its girl-led Clubs, programs, and events. 

As members of a global movement, girls are a force for social good connected to a Community of their peers who are advocating for policy change and advancing gender justice. Founded in 2010 and hosted by the United Nations Foundation, Girl Up welcomes girls and youth of all gender identities to start a Club and join its movement to advance gender justice worldwide. Together, they are expanding girls’ skills, rights, and opportunities to lead, and changing the face of leadership for generations to come. 

Musonda Chikwanda serves as Regional Manager for Africa with the United Nation Foundation under the Girl Up initiative. As Regional Manager for Africa, she coordinates and organizes adolescent girls’ programs in Science Technology Engineering Mathematics (STEM), advocacy and gender equality lead by adolescents’ girls to help bridge the gap in access to education and stimulate/engage girls to take up careers in Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Musonda also mentors and provides training on leadership to youths from different African countries. 

Leadership Development 

Girl Up guides members along their journey from leader to changemaker with specialized programming in organizing, advocacy, fundraising, and communications. Its evidence-based Leadership Course includes interactive modules centered on a three-pronged leadership framework. That is, Leader of Self, Leader of Peers, and Leaders of Change. They’re motivating a generation of leaders to raise their voices in their schools and communities. Advocate to local and national decision-makers, and work together to advance gender equality for girls and women.

The Girl Up Team

An Authentic Platform 

Girl Up is committed to hearing and amplifying the voices of girls across our channels and platforms. Its online Community is both a place for members to share their perspectives and a place for them to connect to a wider global community of peers. Both in person and online, Girl Up fosters a positive community that bridges cultural divides to advance important dialogues on social issues happening around the world. 

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Issues in Focus

Girl Up is committed to advancing gender justice across issue areas that intersect with gender equality. All of which share a focus of giving girls and women equal rights, access, agency, and opportunities. 

  • Gender Equality.
  • Sports for a Purpose.
  • STEM for Social Good.
  • Girls’ Education.
  • Gender-Based Violence.
  • Sexual and Reproductive Health, Rights and Justice.

Girl Up works to build and maintain a constituency dedicated to improving the lives of all girls around the world. Girl Up envisions an empowered and powerful generation of young women leaders who promote and defend gender equality in their own communities and around the world.

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Crtve DEVELOPMENT launches WE!ARE to promote climate change awareness in Africa

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Crtve DEVELOPMENT CEO, Dr. Okito Wedi (Photo: Supplied).

In addition to making profits, it has become a necessity for businesses and organisations to embrace a consistent, policy-driven culture of giving back to the community where they do business. The reason is that a policy-driven socially responsible endeavour is a sustainable and socially responsible endeavour. Businesses that have this corporate mindset are the ones that eventually provide solutions that truly meet the needs of the community they serve, even when they are profit-driven.

As a platform that showcases African businesses, innovations, and entrepreneurs, Business Africa Online (BAO) is excited to witness yet another novel and beneficial platform where businesses, NGOs, funders, and organisations are standing side by side with talents and creatives in the arts and entertainment to ensure they find expression and use those expressions to deliver the needed solution to pressing issues that affect communities in Africa, and in this case, climate change. 

The Crtve Development (CD) WE!ARE climate justice campaign is an initiative that is long overdue because the solutions that have been proposed for climate change have mainly taken into account people living in places like Europe, the United Kingdom, Canada, the USA, Australia and New Zealand, and we need local solutions to local climate change problems.

Dr. Okito Wedi, Founder and CEO of Crtve DEVELOPMENT, stated: “Through the WE!ARE campaign, we want to harness the power of art and creativity to change the narrative on climate change and development in Africa and bridge the gap between communities who will most be affected and policymakers who will determine our climate future.”

CD, together with other trusted partners, has rolled out the WE!ARE campaign to socialise the disproportionate effects of climate change on vulnerable communities on the African continent. Using creativity, the campaign will discover and amplify young people’s unique experiences and demands to surmount the challenges of climate change through climate justice.

Climate justice emphasizes the fact that Africa contributes the least to global warming, yet Africans are the most affected by climate change. As a result, those with the least capacity to cope and adapt to the impacts of climate change face the biggest threat. Climate justice aims to redress this inequality by fairly sharing the problem of climate change as well as the responsibility of dealing with it equitably, with all countries around the world. As a result, the launch of the WE!ARE campaign allows for a conversation about structure, system, and policy to take centre stage between African creatives and the corporate world about how they approach the challenge of climate change.

Collaboration between African creatives and the business community is no longer born from just mere excitement or the need to latch on to trends, but a deliberate and long-term agenda of every business and organization in Africa. This is a major win that BAO is excited about and we celebrate CD for leading the ingenious path that will benefit all because climate change affects everyone in the ecosystem.

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In the coming days, weeks, and months, BAO looks forward to more businesses, organizations, and funders partnering with CD on this project to amplify the great work that is being done. It is a fact that one of the most effective ways of driving sustainable change through creativity is for the corporate world to provide the frameworks, systems, policies, assets, and seed funding needed to sustain the process.

Another big win for the WE!ARE movement is that it will help to improve the proper valuation in corporate policies for the growing social and economic value of creativity and innovation in Africa. Creatives will truly be regarded as using their talents to campaign for real solutions to challenges in Africa, and not just for leisurely endeavours. 

From our vantage point, we wholeheartedly celebrate the immense work and achievements of Crtve Development (CD) and its strategic partners, including the Climate Emergency Collaboration Group, Danish Government, Ford Foundation and the World Resources Institute (WRI) on this worthy cause they have embarked on. We hope that as a result of this work, the subject of climate change will no longer be treated as secondary or alien, but as an issue that all hands must be on deck to address with the collaboration of the corporate world, NGOs, funders, and the creative communities in Africa.

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