GENDER

Transforming men and women

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Women acknowledge now more than ever the importance to engage with all stakeholders at public and private sectors in the process of being considered as integral role-players in the economic development of Africa. They seek to be at the forefront of driving economic growth in Africa and take advantage of available and emerging opportunities on the continent.” This is the opinion of Founder and President of Leading Women of Africa (LWA), Madelein Mkunu.

She says in this regard, the 2016 LWA Champions Awards & Leading Women’s Economic Summit and Exhibition to be held on 17-18 November in Durban, will bring together business leaders, policy makers and industry professionals to uncover and promote both South African and African initiatives that are focused on gender equality, trade and investment climate improvements.

The event is about exploring solutions, ideas, suggestions and recommendations and will provide opportunities to engage with different countries on how to take forward the call to action to transform and include women in the sustainability of socio-economic development of the continent.

Creating awareness

The Leading Women’s Economic Summit and Exhibition 2016 is designed to create awareness and showcase the role that women play as economic players. The summit will provide an historical platform for Leading Women of Africa (LWA) to assume the position of regional leadership for women in business across Africa through the rest of the 21st century and beyond. The event is an annual high-level gathering of government leaders, policy makers, international institutions as well as women change agents.

It will offer a platform for first-class networking between women entrepreneurs and development stakeholders in Africa.

In addition, women would be given a platform to showcase various business and investment opportunities.

“The slow pace of policy implementation, little efforts on delivery and lack of good will to resolve the burning issues of women inequalities in Africa are only few of the constraints that have kept the women of Africa from reaching their full potential and contribute positively in the socio-economic transformation of their respective nations despite numerous efforts. More innovative approaches are needed to ensure successful outcomes of the drive to empower women.

“At this year’s annual summit of the African Union (AU), the leaders declared 2015 as the Year of Women’s Empowerment in acknowledgement of the increasing role women are playing in Africa’s development.

The Agenda 2063, recently initiated by the AU, has acknowledged that Africa in 2063 will be a continent where the critical role of women in Africa’s transformation is recognised and their pro-actively harnessed.

“I believe that the women empowerment agenda will not happen in isolation, but it needs concerted efforts from government, the corporate world and civil society. Being the majority at decision-making platforms, men could be instrumental, should a sustainable and credible platform be provided for them to engage with women,” says Mkunu, who in December last year launched the prestigious Leading Women of Africa (LWA) Champions Awards for Men.

Celebrating men

And she is convinced that the LWA Champions Awards for Men will prove to be a valuable discussion platform at national and regional levels. “The awards highlight the contribution of men in the empowerment of women and honour them for their influential role in the socio-economic change in Africa through women empowerment.

The winners were acknowledged for their hard work which encourages a culture of excellence and good governance in all African societies,” she told BBQ magazine.

LWA patron, Dr Kenneth Kaunda (the first President of Zambia), says this is an approach that will bring about the need to recognise that women play a very important role in all areas of human endeavours.

The 21st century is the time for men to look at women as equal partner in political, social and economic development.”

According to Mkunu the LWA Champions Awards for Men was launched in recognition of men who have played a significant role in unlocking the potential and the acknowledgement of women as equal partners in sustainable socio-economic development and transformation.

The awards ceremony:

  • is a first for Africa;
  • is a platform for recognising outstanding male leaders in South Africa and Africa who are championing and supporting women empowerment;
  • honours men for their influential role in the socio-economic change in Africa through women empowerment;
  • encourages the culture of excellence and good governance in all African societies; and
  • will jet-set the male role model agenda in Africa in the fight against discrimination, poverty and unemployment.“We believe that the gender transformation agenda will not happen until there are concerted efforts from both men and women. Being the majority at decision-making platforms, men could be very instrumental in building a balanced society,” says Mkunu.
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