It was a harvest of time-tested strategies, lessons and experiences during the recently held Africa Power Women Conference 2020. The annual event, which is organized by one of the African Leadership U.K. Limited (www.africanleadership.co.uk) publications, Amazons Watch Magazine in collaboration with Centre for Economic and Leadership Development (www.celdng.org), is a gathering of leading African women in business, politics and diplomacy.
The event which was gracefully attended by notable women drawn from diverse sectors of the economy across Africa, Australia, Ireland, the U.K. and the USA, is the second in the series and had as the theme – African Women in leadership and the glass ceiling: Breaking through and staying relevant. The topics presented for discussion addressed the intricate topics on sustainable female leadership, from presentations of best practices and case studies on how to cultivate a culture of resilience and sustained relevance for African women, as they aspire for the highest leadership positions to celebrating amazing achievements of amazons across the continent, who have found their voices and continued to break the glass ceilings in their respective endeavours.
The conference began with keynote speeches from Her Excellency, Dr Isatou Tourey, Vice president of The Gambia, and the Her Excellency, Madam Bongi Ngema Zuma, the Former First Lady of South Africa.
During her presentation, the Vice President of The Gambia, Dr Isatou Tourey emphasized on the need to institutionalize policies that will enable family women to optimize their potentials in the workplace, while putting into consideration other conflicting roles women play in the home and society at large. She said, “Women are part of the workforce and are struggling with a lot of responsibilities given to them by society. Flexible time should be given to working women to be able to joggle with jobs while policies that will give women the liberty to respond and not to exacerbate responsibilities should be enacted.” She believes that there is a crucial need to draw up different dynamics to come up with policies that will accommodate working women.
In his welcoming speech, the convener of the conference and Chairman of the Magazine’s board, Dr Ken Giami while he welcomed all participants, underscored the commitment of the Amazons Watch Magazine to continually spotlight the giant strides of African women and women in other developing regions with an objective reportage of issues faced by these women and signposting them as inspirational leaders for coming generations.
Internationally respected and accomplished female leaders were carefully selected for the panel session, and they spoke passionately about their unique experiences, and valuable lessons were drawn from the discussion. Members of the panel included The Vice President of The Gambia, Dr Isatou Tourey, Mrs Oluwatoyin F. Sanni, CEO Emerging Africa Capital Group Nigeria, Mrs Margaret Hirsch, Co-Founder and COO Hirsch’s Homestore S.A., Rep Karen Camper, President National Organisation of Black Elected Legislative Women (NOBEL) the USA, Rep Dee Dawkins Haigler, Former Chair of the Georgia Legislative Black Caucus- USA and Dr Julia Petla, CEO Founder and Managing Director of Amedzo Trading and Projects PTY.
Mrs Margaret Hirsch humorously lit the room when asked to share the secret of her success, and advised women in business to be the one holding the money while the man does the books. She confessed this to be the secret of her almost fifty (50) years of marriage and lasting happiness. While responding, Mrs Toyin Sanni agrees that financial independence and financial control is a key secret to success for women in all forms of endeavours. She said a lot of working women surrender their finances to their partners without taking independent initiatives. She said, “As women, we can be feminine but with different viewpoints without being at war at home or with the society.” She described the entrenched cultural barriers that women face all over the world as the main limitations to women achieving their roles in life and society.
Hon. Dee Dawkins Haigler couldn’t agree less as she said, “no matter where in the world you live, the obstacles are the same because of the systems that have always been in place.” She went further to advise successful women to go the extra mile in helping other women succeed. While speaking on her experiences as a woman in a male-dominated industry in South Africa, Dr Petla said that there is no gender in leadership and that as a leader, you owe yourself personal development while not taking for granted the pivotal need for a well-vested team of experts.
The speakers agreed that women need to find their voices and make their voices heard consistently and coherently. Also, young women need to have role models that are successful, respectable, respected and accomplished women who can run their homes and hold their spheres fair and square.
As is the tradition of the Amazons Watch Magazine, the conference climaxed with the presentation of instruments of honour, which was presented by H.E. Madam Bongi Ngema Zuma, stating that these women are specially recognized for their exceptional corporate practices and outstanding achievements, in the preservation of the pride and dignity of women in different dimensions and also, to inspire the next generation of women leaders Across Africa. She said the honour is in recognition of their immense contribution to their organization’s growth and ultimately, the socio-economic development of Africa. The awardees were: Mrs Odiri Oginni CEO United Capital Asset Management Company, Nigeria; Ms Patty Karuaihe-Martin, Managing Director, Namibia National Reinsurance Corporation, Madam Celia Cuffy-Brown Managing Director National Housing Authority Liberia, and Ms Christiana N Yisa, Country Manager, NCR Nigeria.