The oil and gas industry ranks top on the list of industries with the highest gender imbalance. However, certain women are working hard to close the gap and maybe, create balance in the industry. In a recent interview with the Amazons Watch Magazine, Ms. Wadei Powell who is the CEO of Srimex Oil and Gas Company talk about her experiences and how she has been able to create a niche for herself in a male dominated sector. Excerpts;

Please share with our readers your background and some of your growing up experiences.

I was born in the West African nation of Liberia where I attended the St. Teresa’s Convent School in Monrovia and earned a Diploma 1989. I grew up modestly but with everything I needed. My mother was a single-parent who sacrificed everything to make sure me and my siblings (one brother, one sister, one cousin) had the best life. Growing up in Liberia were some of the best times of my life. Due to the civil crisis that erupted in Liberia in 1989, I moved to the United States of America where I continued my education, earning a B.A. degree in English from the University of Maryland, College Park. In my senior year of college, there was a job posting for an Editor with the Security Industry Association (SIA), which was an organization working to develop standards for the security sector. Prior to this, I had no knowledges of what “Standards” were but I was a very good writer and so my school counsellor encouraged me to apply. I am forever indebted to her for that because it helped shape my future professional path. At SIA I was fortunate to have a direct supervisor and mentor, Ms. L. Virginia Williams, who encouraged and nurtured me professionally. She was a petite woman, in stature, with a “quiet but strong presence”. Although, the professional world of “Standards” at that time was very male dominated, I would watch my mentor command a room of mostly men with a combination of her wealth of subject knowledge and quiet confidence. I knew then and there that if I would be successful in a professional world largely dominated by men, I would need to develop that same confidence. I worked hard on learning the industry and honing my skills. Doing this would prove to become some of my greatest assets because, as it turned out, my career path has seen me mostly as the only female among male counterparts. It was also during this time that I found my passion for systems and processes and decided to pursue and earned a M.Sc. degree in Information & Telecommunications Systems Management, with an emphasis in Organizational Development, from Capitol College in Laurel, MD.

While in the United States, I worked with several industry associations and Fortune 500 Companies, the last being Mellon Financial, where I served as a Business Process Manager working in the areas of Financial, Operational, Organizational and Functional process development and management.


Our findings reveal that you have over 19 years of professional experience, including being the former vice president for administration and human resource at Cellcom GSM (now Orange GSM). Kindly tell us about your career journey.

I have over 23 years of professional experience. In October 2005, after living and working in the United States for over 15 years, I returned to my home country, Liberia. At the time, Liberia was just emerging from years of civil crisis and I hoped that my return would enable me to use my professional knowledge and experience to help develop my country.

From December 2005 to May 2006, I served as Manager of Information Systems at the Central Bank of Liberia where I had direct oversight of developing and implementing the CBL MIS long-term objectives, work plan and budget.

Subsequently, I served as Inventory Control Manager at Firestone Liberia from June 2006 to March 2009 and General Services Manager from March 2009 to May 2012.  At Firestone, I had direct oversight of Inventory Control, Government Relations, Concession Agreement Compliance, Education, Information Technology/Payroll, Medical Administration, and Corporate Legal affairs. My specific responsibilities included developing and maintaining strong collaborative relationships with Government officials and stakeholders in the Liberian rubber sector, serving as primary interface with Government Ministries, Public Corporations, Autonomous Agencies, and Professional Associations, and handling administrative and implementation matters related to Firestone Liberia Concession Agreement. I also served as Chairperson of the Firestone Liberia Scholarship Program.

From May 2012 – May 2015, I served as Vice President for Administration & HR at Cellcom Telecommunications, Inc., where I had primary responsibility of administrative and human resource matters, specifically aimed towards reorganizing the organization’s human capital structures.

In 2015, I started a private Organizational Development consulting company, UFOUND Solutions Group, specializing in organizational and human resources development and management.  I worked on several development projects, with private companies and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), providing consultancy services in systems strengthening, business process design, change management, and human resources.

In December 2017, I joined SRIMEX Oil & Gas Company where I currently serve as Chief Executive Officer.  

I have also served as Second Vice President of the Liberia Chamber of Commerce (LCC), held membership in the Liberia Corporate Responsibility Forum, served on the Board of the National Port Authority of Liberia.


The petroleum industry in Africa has largely been male-dominated. A lot of our female readers will be quite interested to know some of your experiences as a first female CEO of your company, and how you are able to achieve success in spite of the obvious barriers.

While male domination in the petroleum sector in Africa is the norm, it is also true of many other industries in Africa, and even in the US. My entire professional career has seen me as the only woman, or one of a very few, in a room filled with men and so from a very early stage in my career I’ve had to manage that dynamic. I have always practiced the philosophy of not seeing myself as a “woman” in a man’s world. Rather, I have always mentally viewed myself as a qualified professional with a job to perform. A typical example is when I accepted the position of CEO with SRIMEX. I never even thought about the fact that I was the first female CEO of an Oil & Gas company in Liberia. It wasn’t until I sent the Press Release to the Public Relations representative that I realized that it was a big deal. I had intended on sending out a simple PR announcement but she insisted that we needed to do something “bigger” because of the message it would send to young women who would now be able to dream bigger.

I have found that focusing my energies on the job at hand and performing with a “quiet but strong presence” has allowed me to mentally remove the barrier myself instead of depending on others to do so. Now, this is not to say that barriers will automatically come down, but I believe that my confidence from the door sets the tone for my interactions with my male counterparts. I deal with barriers as they come and do not make a general assumption that this will be the case with every male counterpart. When it does happen, I am very firm in not allowing it to gain any traction.


The World Bank’s 2018 Human Capital Index ranked sub-Saharan African countries low, based on their education and health outcomes and the impact they are having on productivity. According to the World Bank’s President, Mr. Jim Yong Kim, building human capital is critical for all countries, at all income levels, to compete in the economy of the future. How would you describe the implication of the ranking to organizational growth and economic development in Liberia?

Coming from an OD background, I agree with Mr. Kim’s statement completely. Human capital is the most important ingredient to the success of any organization or nation. Liberia is ranked 153 out of 157 countries, which is extremely low. In simple terms this means that Liberians are severely lacking the requisite knowledge and skills needed for them to move out of poverty and realize their potential as productive members of society. Liberia, prior to the civil war, had an educational system that rivaled the best in the world. I graduated from high school in Liberia and was able to successfully sit the entrance exams for university in the US and obtain an academic scholarship. Today, we see a steep decline in the quality of education in Liberia. In 2018, WAEC reported that 21,580 out of 33,979 candidates who sat for the exam in Liberia, in the senior high category, failed, representing 65.15 percent of the candidates. As an HR professional in Liberia, I have reviewed countless CVs and interviewed numerous candidates for jobs. During these interviews, one can clearly see the lack of preparedness for the job market. As a result, organizations tend to look outside of Liberia for suitable candidates, further crippling the nation’s HCI. We have to realize that there is a direct correlation between poverty and the lack of education and skills. It is imperative that we develop human capital by making investment education (both academic and vocational), health care, and job creation if we are to improve this ranking and elevate our people out of poverty.


Srimex Oil and Gas Company is one of the leading importers of petroleum products in the country. Please tell us more about your company and its contributions to Liberia’s local content development.

Srimex was formed as a General Trading Company in 2003 and imported commodities such as cement, IT and electrical equipment, cooking oil and milk powder. In 2005, Srimex was granted a license to import petroleum products into Liberia which extends to storage, distribution, commercial retail, bunkering as well as exploration. Srimex’s petroleum import business soon eclipsed other activities and in 2011 Srimex Oil and Gas Company (Srimex OGC) was formed to focus solely on petroleum. Srimex OGC also has the largest privately-owned tank farm storage capacity in Liberia. Srimex OGC is 100% Liberian owned and operated and has grown from an importer of modest quantities of PMS into the largest Liberian Oil & Gas company in Liberia. Srimex Chairman, Mr. Musa Hassan Bility, is also 100% owner.


How do you balance your family and career obligations?

With the help and guidance of God and a great support system! Balancing career and family is the toughest job for professional women, especially those wanting to reach executive levels. It is an uphill/downhill battle and at one time or another in your journey, one gets less attention than the other. Anyone that will tell you that as a woman you can have it all is a magician. The best you can strive for is to have the ability to balance the two. I think one of the key things is to be cognizant enough to recognize when you are not paying enough attention to either and to take corrective measures. Secondly, you have to ensure that you have a good support system. I am a proud mother of two daughters and I can tell you that I could not have raised them without God first, and my mother and sister second. I am truly blessed to have a phenomenal support system.


What’s the best way for the readers of Amazons Watch Magazine to connect with you?

Email: wadeipowell@ufoundsolutionsgroup.com

Website: www.ufoundsolutionsgroup.com

LinkedIn: Wadei Powell

The gender imbalance seen in terms of women political representation has been a topic in most gender gatherings for decades. In a recent interview with the Amazons Watch Magazine, HON. Mrs. Santi Bai Hanoomanjee, the first female speaker of the Mauritius National Assembly, bares her mind on the challenges women in political leadership are faced with and how women can brave these challenges and be more involved in the political sphere. Excerpt:

  • You have a track record of working in a male dominated industry. Amazons Watch Magazine readers would love to know more about your career journey and some of your accomplishments.

Right at the start, I must say that I have always been a very determined person. This trait of my character has, to a great extent, shaped my career and brought me where I am today.

At the very young age of 19, I joined the civil service of Mauritius. Gradually, by dint of hard work and perseverance, I climbed the professional ladder until I reached the then highest rank in the civil service, that of Permanent Secretary. For your information, a Permanent Secretary is the closest collaborator of the Minister. He/she is the person responsible, amongst others, for advising the Minister on the formulation of policies of the Ministry. He/she is also the administrative head overseeing the implementation of policies decided by Government.

At every level in my career, I have always endeavoured to bring about meaningful changes. I have served in several Ministries, including the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Agriculture, the then Ministry of Women’s Rights which later became the Ministry of Gender Equality, Child Development and Family Welfare and the Ministry of Finance, amongst others. I seized the opportunity of my posting at the Ministry of Women’s Rights to initiate, as far back as 1984, several projects aimed at furthering women’s rights, such as, inter-alia, the review of discriminatory legislation against women, and improving the literacy rate of women in the country.   

At the Ministry of Agriculture, I had the privilege to represent Mauritius in negotiations at the ACP-EU level regarding the Sugar Protocol issues and to attend lobbying missions in EU countries in that connection. I was also closely involved in the major reforms which were brought in trade at the level of the World Trade Organisation and I had the opportunity of attending negotiation meetings in Geneva.

In May 2005, I retired and started my political career by joining the Mouvement Socialist Militant political party. This decision was motivated by my strong desire to serve my country with the rich experience acquired after spending 33 years in the civil service.

In July 2005, I was elected for the first time in the largest constituency of the island and I was re-elected in the same constituency in May 2010.

I served as a Member of the Opposition in the National Assembly from July 2005 to March 2010 and also from July 2011 to October 2014.

From May 2010 to July 2011, I was appointed Minister of Health and Quality of Life and in that capacity, I focused my efforts to raise the standard of the public health services for the ultimate benefit of the population.

Finally, following the general elections of December 2014, I was elected the first woman Speaker of the National Assembly. I used my influence to advocate for the setting up of a Parliamentary Gender Caucus. I must acknowledge that my proposal received a positive response from all the political parties in the House and thus, a cross-party Parliamentary Gender Caucus became a reality in March 2017. I am currently its chairperson.

  • As the Speaker of the National Assembly of Mauritius and also being the first woman in the nation’s history to hold this post, what will you say is the major threat to the participation of women in top executive positions?

As a woman, I would say that there are a number of socially acquired gendered roles and norms which tend to act as limiting factors to the full capacity development of women. Although women can be equally, if not more, capable and qualified as men, they always have to work harder than men in order to prove their worth.

So, having in place an accompanying conducive gender sensitive environment remains one of the key dimensions of equitable participation at higher levels of decision making. Moreover, one of the components of a gender sensitive structure includes the use of gender sensitive language so that a certain level of respect towards women can be maintained.

The Parliamentary Gender Caucus of the Mauritius National Assembly commissioned a study in 2017 with a view to establishing the baseline situation on the status of gender equality in sectoral Ministries in Mauritius. The study revealed that there is no discrimination against women in the civil service. At the level of the private sector, recent studies reveal that there still exist some inequalities that needs to be straightened out so as to have more women at board room level. Moreover, all sectors must respect the principle of equal pay for equal work but with equal qualifications and experience. At the same time, organisations should address barriers that remain invisible at the first glance but which lead to the glass ceiling effect. These unconscious bias in the corporate world continue to be a challenge to gender equality.   

  • Annually, the achievements and contributions of women are celebrated in the month of March. The theme for the 2019 International Women’s Day is Balance for Better. From your viewpoint, what possible measures can governments take to create a gender-balanced Africa?

Across the globe, statistics reveal that gender has been a key determinant in the distribution of the benefits of social and economic development. Advancing gender equality could add USD 12 trillion per year to the economy by 2025, according to the Mc Kinsey Global Institute.

It is well-known that women comprise 50% of the global population, but have far less representation in many key cross-sections of society. For instance, the average representation of women in formal politics remain around 24% at the global level. Moreover, there is a persistent wage gap between the salary of men and women.  Concurrently, the United Nations has recognized that the pursuit of gender equality through Goal 5 is a “pre-condition” for the achievement of the 16 other SDGs. The different commitments made at the regional level also call upon Governments to put in place measures for women’s empowerment and gender equality. Moreover, the success of global development efforts depends on women being fully engaged, which means that they must be given the opportunity to reach their full potential at the different levels of policy making and implementation through gender mainstreaming.

In this context, there are a number of measures, which Governments should consider adopting in order to redress existing gender gaps. The collection of gender disaggregated data remains key to establishing the baseline to measure the existing situation on gender equality and monitor and assess progress made towards equity and equality. In this context, as the Chairperson of the Parliamentary Gender Caucus, I have taken the lead to commission a gender audit in the civil service in Mauritius to measure the status of gender mainstreaming at the policy and operational levels. The Caucus has also commissioned a participatory gender audit on the status of gender equality in the private sector with a view to making proposals to address gender gaps. As the private sector remains a partner for development, roping in the private sector to contribute to women’s empowerment through public/private partnerships and corporate social responsibility measures would contribute to gender responsive investment that would complement government initiatives and maximise on the limited resources that some African Governments are already facing.

Furthermore, Gender Responsive Budgeting should be seen as a strategy to reframe investment analysis as well as to recognise gender as a crucial factor for sustainable development.

Empowering women in Africa must start with ensuring that they have access to education. It is a fact that education enables individuals to earn their living. This, in turn, leads to improved living standards, through the fulfilment of basic needs. Concurrently, women should have access to proper health services to enable them to remain healthy, to reduce unnecessary disability and premature death. Women who are deprived of education and who are in poor health cannot earn wages and become a prey to poverty. Such situations lead to a feminization of poverty.

In addition, as we are transitioning into the digital revolution, Governments should ensure digital literacy at grass root level, especially targeting women. However, I have to admit that this will not be an easy task to achieve as it will require a lot of resource. We must bear in mind that in some remote areas of Africa, women might not even have access to a mobile phone which is the basic digital tool. Access to Internet connection remains another major challenge.

At the macro level, according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), women in this day and age perform three-quarters of unpaid care work, with a total of around 13% of the world’s GDP, which is not translated into economic power, nor accounted for in the GDP. In the context of African economies, women’s work in the informal sector is also not accounted for as part of the GDP. Regulating this sector would ensure that women’s economic and social contribution is acknowledged.

Eliminating Gender Based Violence (GBV) should remain high on any government’s agenda for the safety of the community. Concurrently, GBV bears both tangible and intangible costs. GBV is too costly to ignore.

Furthermore, Government policies need to appreciate the diversity of women’s identities- there is not a “one size fit all policy”. Government policies and programmes should be responsive to the different priorities of women from different socio-economic backgrounds, as well as cultural specificities that shape gendered power dynamics. Programmes should be formulated and implemented accordingly. The use of specific gender sensitive indicators would contribute a long way to monitor and evaluate the impact of these programmes on intended beneficiaries.

Understanding women’s practical and strategic needs is a key dimension to putting in place relevant policies and programmes, with the accompanying costed action plans to address those issues that are of importance to advancing women’s empowerment. Having both a top-down and bottom-up approach would ensure a diversity of representation of issues and ensure that women’s practical and strategic concerns at the grass-roots are mainstreamed into government’s shorter terms plans and vision.

  • Women sometimes find it difficult to balance social life, family and career. What model do you use to strike a balance between these aspects of your life?

I must point out that, over and above all my professional roles, I am a mother of three daughters. As such, I have numerous family commitments. Balancing these with my demanding career and active social and political life has not always been straightforward. Fortunately, I have had the opportunity to live in a family setting where we have been socialised to value the male and female gendered roles. I have also benefited from the understanding and unflinching support of my husband and my children.

Personally, I have realised that it is very important to shortlist my priorities, relating to my work and family commitments. Quite often, I am faced with changing priorities and I have to balance what is urgent and what is important. This is where a good planning of activities becomes vital.

Getting my priorities sorted out has helped me to assess the amount of energy that I should invest on my responsibilities at different levels. I always reflect carefully on what issues cannot be compromised, those that are non-negotiable and those that are important to myself, my family and my professional commitments. Being clear on these answers helps me to prioritise, to make the necessary adjustments and to plan my future course of action.

Over my 40 years of career, I have come to the realization that maintaining work-life balance requires constant adjustments, compromises, and sacrifices, but also that it is essential to take the time to spend with my family as such moments help me to re-energise and to keep working. I always strive to strike a mental and physical balance through regular exercises.

Overall, I may say that I have been able to maintain the correct balance in my life: I have had a distinguished career while simultaneously ensuring that my children also successfully complete their university studies and embark on their own professional careers.

  • In African countries, the participation of women in political activities is significantly low compared to the rest of the world. How do you think African women can be encouraged to get involved and break into the political sphere?

One of the strategies that have been adopted at the regional level remains the institutionalization of the quota system and affirmative action. At the international level, the Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) calls upon State Parties to put in place temporary special measures to redress existing gaps.

Evidence suggests that local politics remain a platform for women to leap into national level politics. In Mauritius, at the local Government level, there is a positive legislative measure that stipulates that 30% of candidates for elections should be women. As a consequence, at present, there are 33% of women elected at local government level.  Although I must acknowledge that women representation at Parliament level still remains low for Mauritius at only 12%.

At the level of African countries, two countries can be considered as shining examples in terms of women political representation, namely Uganda and Rwanda. Uganda’s 9th Parliament comprises 38% of women as a result of affirmative action enshrined in the Constitution. As regards Rwanda, the percentage of women in Chamber is 64% as a consequence of the 2003 Rwandan Constitution which provides for a minimum of 30% quota for women in all decision making organs, covering the bi-cameral Parliament, political parties and other government bodies.     

However, there is much work which is required upstream so as to reach the desired level of women participation in politics. To my mind, this work should start with the family. Both boys and girls should be provided with equal education and development opportunities. The girl-child should not be caged in gendered roles.

Providing young girls right from an early age with self-assertiveness, leadership, advocacy and lobbying skills remains crucial to shaping them into young leaders. Eminent female figures in politics, both past and present, such as Indira Gandhi, Golda Meir, Margaret Thatcher, Angela Merkel, Theresa May, should be used as role models to inspire young women aspiring to join politics.  

Above all, African political leaders must be fully sensitized to the need to create space for women to join their parties. The presence of women should be welcome. This sensitization should be backed with appropriate legislative framework to create an enabling environment. Most importantly, in the thrust to bridge the gender gap, men should be roped in as partners or as male champions pushing the cause for gender equality.   

  • What is the best way for Amazons Watch Magazine readers to connect with you?

I may be contacted by email to shanoomanjee@govmu.org .

U.S. Ambassador Stephanie S. Sullivan honored Ms. Stella Saaka, from the Talensi district in the Upper East Region, with the U.S. Embassy’s 2019 Ghana Woman of Courage Award during a breakfast ceremony hosted at the Ambassador’s residence. Like the U.S. Secretary of State’s annual International Women of Courage Award, this award recognizes a Ghanaian woman whose efforts have exemplified exceptional courage and leadership in advocating for human rights, women’s equality, and social progress, often at great personal risk.

The Minister of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Cynthia Morrison, attended the event, as did Chiefs of Mission and High Commissioners or their representatives from 16 diplomatic missions.  

The International Women of Courage Award is the only Department of State award that pays tribute to emerging women leaders worldwide, in the manner that the U.S. Embassy’s Woman of Courage Award recognizes emerging women leaders in Ghana.

Stella Saaka is a powerful force for women’s rights in the Talensi District in northern Ghana. She is the Regional Organizing Secretary for the Women in Agricultural Platforms (WAPs), a key component of U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)’s Northern Ghana Governance Activity. In addition to spearheading agricultural income-generating activities for women, Ms. Saaka continues to break barriers in the male-dominated political and traditional authority system prevalent in northern Ghana, convincing the Talensi political leadership to include women in the district’s development and decision-making process.

While presenting the award to Ms. Saaka, Ambassador Sullivan said; “Stella’s actions actively empower the women in her community by helping them to access productive resources and to ensure their voices are heard by decision makers. Her students call her a role model and the women she represents call her a woman of courage. I hope that all Ghanaian women and girls learn about her story, so they can craft their own journey to make a difference.”

Accepting her award, Ms. Saaka said, “I am happy that my work with women in rural Talensi has been recognized by the U.S. Mission in Ghana. I dedicate this award to all my hard working women in Talensi and to all women working hard to empower themselves economically to take care of their families and homes in Ghana.” In describing her approach to working with the local authorities on behalf of women, Stella said, “I come in peace but I mean business.”

Ms. Saaka has distinguished herself among USAID’s Northern Ghana Governance Activity participants, who aim to address the broad issue of access to land in one of the most densely populated districts in the region per square area. Foreseeing an opportunity for women to gain access to land, she was the only woman who successfully addressed long-held traditional customs by involving local chiefs and generating the conversation on why it is important for women to have access to land to generate economic development. This is significant because land tenure consists of a layered system of traditional tribal ownership that has historically disenfranchised women.

Ms. Saaka’s determination and persistence were rewarded when the Chief of Tongo allocated 29 acres of land to 30 women in the district. She and the women started working on post-harvest processing and income-generating activities with sweet potatoes, peanuts, and other agricultural products. Ms. Saaka started processing sweet potatoes in 2014, and the women use the income they generate to support their children’s education. As a means of alternative income generation, they produce a range of products from the orange sweet potato, including drinks, snacks, and flour for making pastries. Due to these efforts, more women are finding ways to contribute to the economy in the district, which has led to a decrease in female migration during the dry season.

Another area where Ms. Saaka stands out is in her civic engagement. Specifically, she convinced the Talensi traditional leadership to include women in the district’s development and decision-making process. As a result, she and her WAP colleagues represent their district at the assembly’s Medium Term Development Planning sessions, which affords these women an opportunity to contribute to their own advancement. Because of their advocacy, the district assembly and traditional and political authorities have now prioritized land tenure security for women, the provision of a tractor for women, and training for female tractor operators.

Ms. Stella Saaka wears many hats in her community: she is a mother, a teacher, an entrepreneur, a women’s leader, and a community icon. Her lifetime achievements exemplified by her resilience and courage set an example for all Ghanaians, especially women and girls.

Source: Africanews

The health and prosperity of humanity are directly tied to the state of our environment. We are at a crossroads. Do we continue on our current path, which will lead to a bleak future for humankind, or pivot to sustainable development? That is the choice our political leaders must make, now, said Joyce Msuya, Acting Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) during the fourth UN Environment Assembly meeting held at the organizations’ headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya.

The 51-year-old Msuya is Tanzania’s top import to the global environmental organization.

Appointed 15 August 2018 by UNEP’s Secretary-General António Guterres, this mother of two initially served as an Adviser to the World Bank Vice President, East Asia and Pacific Region while based in Washington, D.C.

Not much is known about the private life of Msuya which is testimony of how guarded she has been to date, avoiding personal scrutiny as she has steadily ascended the top global echelons.

Holding a Master of Science in Microbiology and Immunology degree from the University of Ottawa, Canada, and a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and Immunology from the University of Strathclyde, Scotland, Msuya also holds an Executive General Management Certificate from Harvard Business School (USA) and a Public Health Certificate from Johns Hopkins University (USA). Bottom line, she is solidly schooled.

Tellingly, within Africa’s patriarchal society, education acts as a catalyst, accelerating the pace of girls to tap into the mainstream  marketplace and Msuya, a mother of two, is certainly a typical symbol of this axiom.  

Prior to joining UNEP Msuya served as an  Adviser to the World Bank Vice President, East Asia and Pacific Region in Washington, D.C. She brought to the position more than 20 years of extensive experience in the field of international development spanning corporate, strategy, operations, knowledge management, and partnerships, with diverse assignments in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

From 2014 to 2017, Msuya served as the inaugural World Bank Special Representative and Head of the World Bank Group (WBG) Office in the Republic of Korea, where she established and developed office operations. She led on expanding and deepening the partnership between the WBG and the Government of Korea.

Before this Msuya held a series of high-level positions at the WBG, including the World Bank Institute’s East Asia and Pacific Regional Coordinator based in China, Principal Strategy Officer at the International Finance Corporation (IFC)’s Manufacturing, Agribusiness & Services Department, and Special Adviser to World Bank Senior Vice President and Chief Economist, Lord Nicholas Stern.

At the WBG Msuya led several strategic initiatives within complex organizations at global, regional and country levels. These including ,creating an innovative blended finance fund , namely ,the Food Fund in response to the 2008 global food crisis; leading the development of the IFC’s growth strategy for Africa, which helped IFC achieve a historic increase in private sector investments in Africa; and managing the China-Africa Knowledge Sharing Program, the World Bank’s most successful South-South program, which leveraged the WBG’s environmental and social standards to inform sustainable business practices of cross border investments into Africa.

Before joining the World Bank Group in 1998, Msuya worked as an International Health Policy Analyst with the Liu Center for Global Studies, presently the Liu institute for Global Issues at the University of British Columbia in Canada.

Previously she worked in Tanzania on various assignments, both in the private and public sectors

Msuya joined the World Bank in 1998 as a Health Specialist. She went on to build expertise in development economics as well as lending operations in the health sector during her tenure with the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development .In 2001, she joined the World Bank’s Development Economics Vice Presidency as Advisor to the Senior Vice President  and Chief Economist, Professor Lord Nicholas Stern

From 2005 to 2011, she worked at the International Finance Corporation, in the Departments of Operational Strategy and Manufacturing, Agribusiness and Services, where she rose to the position of Principal Strategy Officer.

In 2011, she was assigned to the Beijing office of the World Bank Institute as Regional Coordinator for East Asia and the Pacific, focusing on support to the Bank’s operational work in its efforts to “fight poverty and promote shared prosperity”.

In April 2014,  Msuya was selected by senior management to establish and manage the first World Bank Group office in the Korea, serving for three years as the World Bank Special Representative to the Republic of Korea and Head of the World Bank Group Office based in Songdo, Incheon, South Korea.

At the time of her appointment to her present assignment, she served as an advisor for the World Bank’s Vice President for the East Asia and Pacific region, based in Washington DC.

And if her career trajectory so far is anything to go by, Msuya is slated to become a phenomenal figure with clout and influence in the globe.

On 15 August 2018, she was appointed to be the Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.

Mr Solheim announced he had quit with effect from November 20 in the wake of an internal audit report that said he had gobbled up $500,000 in unnecessary and budgeted travel expenses in just 22 months.

Ms. Joyce Msuya was appointed by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres to United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) on 15 August 2018.

Tanzanian national Joyce Msuya has been appointed as acting head of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) after Erik Solheim, the executive director abruptly resigned on Tuesday in the wake of accusations of misuse of funds.

On 15 August 2018, she was appointed to be the Deputy Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UN Environment) by United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres.

Prior to joining UN Environment, Ms Msuya served as Adviser to the World Bank Vice President, East Asia and Pacific Region in Washington, D.C.

Ms Msuya however, wouldn’t find her new role a walk in the park especially coming in the wake of Solheim exit with the UN body attracting more scrutiny in the way it runs its affairs.

Mr Solheim announced he had quit with effect from November 20 in the wake of an internal audit report that said he had gobbled up $500,000 in unnecessary and budgeted travel expenses in just 22 months.

Prior to joining UN Environment, Ms. Msuya served as Adviser to the World Bank Vice President, East Asia and Pacific Region in Washington, D.C. She brought to the position more than 20 years of extensive experience in the field of international development spanning corporate, strategy, operations, knowledge management, and partnerships, with diverse assignments in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

From 2014 to 2017, Ms. Msuya served as the inaugural World Bank Special Representative and Head of the World Bank Group (WBG) Office in the Republic of Korea, where she established and developed office operations. She led on expanding and deepening the partnership between the WBG and the Government of Korea.

Before this, Ms. Msuya held a series of high-level positions at the WBG, including the World Bank Institute’s East Asia and Pacific Regional Coordinator based in China, Principal Strategy Officer at the International Finance Corporation (IFC)’s Manufacturing, Agribusiness & Services Department, and Special Adviser to World Bank Senior Vice President & Chief Economist (Lord Nicholas Stern).

At the WBG, Ms. Msuya led several strategic initiatives within complex organizations at global, regional and country levels. These include:

  • Creating an innovative blended finance fund (the Food Fund) in response to the 2008 global food crisis;
  • Leading the development of the IFC’s growth strategy for Africa, which helped IFC achieve a historic increase in private sector investments in Africa; and
  • Managing the China-Africa Knowledge Sharing Program, the World Bank’s most successful South-South program, which leveraged the WBG’s environmental and social standards to inform sustainable business practices of cross border investments into Africa.

Ms. Msuya started her career with the WBG as Health Specialist, Africa Region in 1998. As an author and publisher of multiple articles in the health sector, including in peer-reviewed journals as well as a background paper titled “Making Services Work for Poor People” for the 2004 World Development Report (WDR), she delivered both sustainable development projects and leading analytical products.

Before joining the WBG, Ms. Msuya worked on various public and private sector assignments at the University of British Columbia in Canada and in her native country of Tanzania.

Ms. Msuya holds a Master of Science in Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Ottawa, Canada, and a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and Immunology from the University of Strathclyde, Scotland. She also holds an Executive General Management Certificate from Harvard Business School (USA) and a Public Health Certificate from Johns Hopkins University (USA). Ms. Msuya is married with two children.

By Charles Wachira

In a more than half-hour address to the Human Rights Council, Michelle Bachelet highlighted concerns around the world, while also welcoming several firsts, such as the record number of women now serving in the United States Congress, where they make up nearly a quarter of the representation.

The new wave of women representatives taking up their seats in January indicated several “important steps for diversity,” she said. “They included the first Muslim American Congresswoman, the first Native American Congresswoman, and the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. I hail all powerful women around the world and the model they present to the next generation.”

UN Photo/Violaine Martin

Moving on to the wider state of social justice around the world, the rights chief said that overcoming “gross inequalities” was key to achieving the 2030 Agenda, referring to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which Member States signed up to in 2015.

Hailing reforms in Ethiopia – where gender parity has been achieved in government; and Tunisia – where a woman was elected Mayor of the capital Tunis last year, the High Commissioner nonetheless warned that women human rights defenders globally faced a rising number of attacks. These include “physical and sexual violence, public shaming – including on the internet – and attacks on their families and children”, she said.

‘Precarious’ migration proves development gains aren’t universal

Turning to the issue of “involuntary and precarious” migration that affected young people in particular, Ms. Bachelet explained that it too was driven by inequality in the form of poverty, discrimination, oppression, violence, poor governance, climate change – and violations of civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.

“The continuing movement of people from El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras to the United States is a result of failure to ensure that development reaches everyone, with persistent violations of rights leading to profound inequalities,” she said.

The High Commissioner also welcomed efforts in Mexico to move from detaining and deporting migrants to a new rights-based approach that focused on “opportunities for regularization and alternatives to detention”.

‘Thousands’ more migrant children separated from families in US

Staying with US-bound migration, Ms. Bachelet cautioned against new restrictions that simply “push migrants back across the border”, while also expressing concern that “thousands more migrant children have been separated from their families than had been previously reported”.

In Europe, the issue of migration was no less dramatic, Ms. Bachelet explained, before welcoming efforts by Germany, Finland, Portugal and Spain to help those fleeing war and persecution.

Continuing reports of migrants leaving the North African coast on unsuitable vessels – and regularly drowning in the Mediterranean Sea – were evidence of the need to extend the scope of regular migration channels, as the European Union had indicated, the High Commissioner said.

“Another 226 deaths were recorded in the first two months of this year,” she said. “With several NGO vessels forced to suspend operations by measures that essentially criminalize solidarity, the ancient responsibility of rescue at sea is increasingly falling on merchant vessels – which are often ill-suited to such a task.”

Philippines war on drugs ‘no model’ for other States

Turning to the Philippines and President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on narcotics, Ms. Bachelet insisted that State policy “should not be more of a threat to their lives than the drugs they are abusing”.

Up to 27,000 people may have been killed in the context of the campaign against illegal drugs since mid-2016, the High Commissioner said. Despite “serious allegations of extra-judicial killings, only one case – the widely reported killing of a teenage boy – has been subject to investigation and prosecution,” she added.

The country’s drug policies were not a model for any country, the High Commissioner maintained, before adding that she was also extremely concerned that Philippino lawmakers were considering “measures to reintroduce the death penalty for drug related crimes and reduce the age of criminal responsibility from 15 to 12 – or even nine-years old.”

Saudi Arabian female activists ‘must be freed’

In a speech covering more than 30 countries, the High Commissioner also appealed to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to set free “several” female activists allegedly subject to ill-treatment or torture in jail. “The persecution of peaceful activists would clearly contradict the spirit of the country’s proclaimed new reforms,” she said. “So, we urge that these women be released.”

Yemen conflict will ‘scar’ generations to come

On the huge scale of suffering in Yemen, where fighting between forces loyal to the Government of President Abd Rabbu Mansour Hadi and Houthi militia has claimed thousands of lives since 2015, Ms. Bachelet said that it would “scar the country’s future for generations”.

The conflict has not killed and injured thousands of civilians, bringing famine, “debilitating” airstrikes, shelling, landmines and acute malnutrition – especially for children.

Syrians fleeing ISIL must be given assistance

On Syria, the High Commissioner called on all warring parties to provide information about all those who have gone missing during the conflict, which began in 2011.

“I remain particularly concerned about the rising toll of civilian deaths in Idlib Governorate,” Ms. Bachelet said. “All parties must ensure that the thousands of civilians fleeing formerly ISIL-held territory receive adequate protection and assistance. And I join the Special Envoy’s call for a comprehensive political solution.”

Returning to the need to tackle “gross inequalities”, the High Commissioner insisted that it was possible for all countries – “not always the richest, in income or resources” – to adopt principled and more effective policies, grounded in the full range of human rights.

“By taking steps to advance civil, cultural, economic, political and social rights as mutually reinforcing, they can count on building a strong basis for sustainable development and social harmony,” she said.

Source: UN News

In October 25, 2018, the Ethiopian parliament elected its first female president, Sahle-Work Zewde. Though the role is largely ceremonial, it holds symbolic importance for women across the country and the continent, as Zewde will be the only female head of state in Africa. In her opening speech, she emphasized the importance of equality, telling MPs that if they thought she was talking too much about women,  she had only just begun.

Her election comes on the heels of another important step forward for Ethiopia, and neighboring Rwanda, who joined the meager ranks of countries with ministerial gender parity. In a cabinet reshuffle last week, Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed appointed ten female ministers, comprising half of the all cabinet posts. Days later, Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame announced that Rwanda’s new cabinet would also be gender-balanced.

According to data from the Inter-Parliamentary Union, fewer than ten countries have reached parity at the cabinet level. The global average for female government ministers is 18.3 percent, and more than a dozen countries have no women cabinet members at all. Ethiopia and Rwanda are part of a small club, and further unique for granting women substantial portfolios. Both named women to key ministerial posts; Ethiopia’s new minsters of defense and peace, and Rwanda’s ministers of trade and economic planning, are women. Of the female ministers in office worldwide, the vast majority hold posts that oversee social issues. In 2017, women were most likely to be ministers of environment (108), social affairs (102), family/children/youth (98), women’s affairs (68), education (67), and culture (65). Far fewer women served as ministers for justice (38), finance (19), and a mere fifteen countries—including Ethiopia—have a woman at the helm of the defense ministry.

In their announcements of the new appointments, both Prime Minister Abiy and President Kagame remarked that they believed women would improve the effectiveness of the cabinet. Abiy told lawmakers that women would help battle corruption and bring accountability to the government. Kagame noted to judicial officials that “a higher number of women in decision-making roles have led to a decrease in gender discrimination and gender-based crimes.”

To a certain extent, research bears this out. Women’s political participation is correlated with a number of gains that are particularly important for post-conflict countries like Ethiopia and Rwanda. A report from CFR’s Women and Foreign Policy program finds that, over a number of metrics, greater women’s participation in peace and security processes leads to more stability. Further studies find higher levels of women’s representation in government leads to a longer duration of peace, and lower likelihood of civil war relapse. Greater numbers of women in cabinet level posts correlates with friendlier working environments for women, and women’s political participation encourages confidence in democratic institutions and is linked with lower levels of extralegal killing, torture, disappearances and other forms of state abuse.

There are important caveats to these findings. Historically, the appointment of women to high-ranking posts has sometimes been instrumentalized for political ends, and several studies acknowledge that the transformative potential of women’s political representation is hindered when grassroots women’s activism is smothered. The Rwandan case in particular is evidence that even when women have high levels of descriptive representation, without an autonomous civil society, gains do not necessarily trickle down.

Nevertheless, this recent news represents a welcome step forward. In addition to Ethiopia and Rwanda’s history-making cabinet line-ups, Mali’s president announced last month a new cabinet that is 30 percent female, including in key posts like the minister of foreign affairs. Women in ministerial roles are slowly changing the face of African politics. Their presence is a necessary—if not sufficient—element to achieving long-lasting equality and stability.

Rebecca Turkington is the assistant director of the Women and Foreign Policy program at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Saudi Arabia on Saturday (Feb 23) named a princess as its first woman ambassador to the United States, a key appointment as the fallout over journalist Jamal Khashoggi’s murder tests relations between the allies.

Princess Rima bint Bandar replaced Prince Khalid bin Salman, the younger brother of the powerful crown prince who was appointed Vice Defence Minister  in a flurry of late-night royal decrees announced on State media.

The reshuffle comes as Saudi Arabia seeks to quell an international outcry over Khashoggi’s murder last October in the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, which strained relations with its key ally Washington.

After initially denying they knew anything of Khashoggi’s disappearance, the kingdom finally acknowledged that Saudi agents killed him inside the consulate, but described it as a rogue operation.

Princess Rima faces hostile US lawmakers who have threatened to take tough action against Saudi Arabia over the brutal killing amid claims that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman – the de-facto ruler who also serves as the defence minister – was personally responsible.

The Saudi government has denied he had anything to do with the murder of Khashoggi, a royal insider-turned-critic who was a columnist with the Washington Post.

“The appointment of a new envoy signifies an attempt by Riyadh to try and re-set relations with Washington and draw a line under the Khashoggi affair, however unlikely that may be in practice, at least with Congress,” Kristian Ulrichsen, a fellow at Rice University’s Baker Institute in the United States, told AFP.

Princess Rima, the daughter of a former long-time ambassador to the United States, has been a leading advocate of female empowerment in the kingdom, which has long faced criticism over its treatment of women.

The princess previously worked at the kingdom’s General Sports Authority, where she led a campaign to increase women’s participation in sports.



Prince Khalid, a son of the king who served as ambassador since 2017, had been expected to leave Washington for some time – particularly after the global outcry over Khashoggi tarnished the kingdom’s reputation.

His new appointment as deputy defence minister comes as a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia remains bogged down in a four-year conflict in neighbouring Yemen.

It comes around a year after the crown prince, who also serves as the defence minister, announced a military reform plan and a dramatic overhaul of top defence commanders.

“As the Yemen war drags on and the military reform programme continues to move painstakingly slow, Prince Khalid is gaining a difficult portfolio but one that is critical to his father, brother and the kingdom,” Becca Wasser, a policy analyst at the US-based RAND Corporation, told AFP.

“Prince Mohammed has struggled to delegate authority within this file which has rendered some efforts -? Chiefly military reform – stagnant, and Prince Khalid’s appointment may be an attempt to reinvigorate these initiatives.”

Khashoggi’s killing has refocused attention on the Saudi-led coalition’s bombing campaign in Yemen, which is gripped by what the UN calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

Earlier this month, the US House voted overwhelmingly to end American involvement in Saudi Arabia’s war effort in Yemen, dealing a rebuke to President Donald Trump who has publicly thrown his support behind the crown prince.

US lawmakers this month also said they were probing whether Trump was rushing to sell sensitive nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia to please corporate supporters who stand to profit handsomely.

The House of Representatives committee has voiced fears that Saudi Arabia could convert US expertise into making a nuclear bomb, heightening already severe tensions with regional rival Iran.

Source: Channel News Asia