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Monday, 8 August 2016

Women Leardership will bridge the gender gap in Africa - Joyce Banda at the Murtala Muhammed Foundation Women's Power Lunch

L-R H.E. Joyce Banda, President Republic of Malawi 2012-2014; H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo GCFR, President Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999-2007; Mrs Aisha Muhammed-Oyebode, Chief Executive Officer, Murtala Muhammed Foundation at the Women’s Power Lunch organised by the Murtala Muhammed Foundation

Dr. Joyce Banda, former President of Malawi, at the recently held Women Power lunch, to honour the invitation by Aisha Oyebode CEO of the Murtala Muhammed Foundation in Lagos, Nigeria shared some of the challenges she faced as President and Vice-President of Malawi.


The Lunch, an annual event organised by the Foundation is aimed to address pertinent developmental issues relating to African women was also an avenue for H.E Joyce Banda to call on active participation of women in governance and public service in Africa. She also called for concerted efforts and collaboration between Men and Women to drive inclusive governance.

The Women’s Power Lunch, which was on the theme “Women in Solidarity: A New Paradigm for Inclusion” had in attendance the Chief Executive Officer of the Murtala Muhammed Foundation; Mrs Aisha Muhammed-Oyebode; Chairman of the Murtala Muhammed Foundation, H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo, women leaders and influencers from all walks of life including government, private sector, civil society, academia/students, media and the arts.

In her keynote address Dr. Banda called on the implementation of affirmative action, stating there was a need to create deliberate policies to promote participation by women in government and as well improve education participation by the Girl child.

She further called for more responsive and highly co-ordinated action between law and implementation on gender rights and enforcement of these rights across the continent as well as formation of more legal instruments for women’s rights. She also called for an active interest in governance by women. “If you don’t want to go through what men pass through, then you don’t want to be in politics” H.E Joyce Banda decried the challenges women faced as politicians which includes nocturnal meetings and criticisms of her fight against corruption, as she gave the example of a time when she was manhandled by United States Secret Service agent who mistook her for a market woman during the visit of President Bill Clinton to Malawi. 

Convener of the Power Lunch and Chief Executive Officer of the Murtala Muhammed Foundation; Mrs Aisha Muhammed-Oyebode in her welcome address called on women to use their collective strength to generate force against the barriers that still hold them back, this is why the women who have broken these barriers are such powerful and compelling heroines. Mrs Oyebode further stressed the need for the society to embrace women leadership as a solution to bridging the gender gap in Africa “So long as there is a continued reluctance to embrace the idea of female authority figures of women in power and leadership, and the gender gap remains as is, sustainable development may continue to elude us on this continent. Can you imagine how the narrative on Africa would change if women are given their rightful place at the table? H.E. Joyce Banda sharing similar views also added “If you do not reserve your seat at the table, you will become the meal!”

Supporting H.E. Joyce Banda’s call for an actively equipped women base in governance, Former H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo said he is a firm believer in women' “You must be well equipped to succeed in politics, If you are not strong physically, your chances are reduced, but you must also believe in God.”

H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo also called on political parties to mandatorily include a quota for women to encourage their participation “While in the PDP and during my time as President, we had a structure were women could get forms and support for free, we did this to encourage active participation by women”.

Closing the question and answer session of the event, H.E Joyce Banda stressed the need to end harmful traditions and vices which are coming to the public fora, “We can use the local chiefs to stop vices particularly the hyenas.” The hyena is a traditional practice in some remote southern regions of Malawi, which entails girls are made to have sex with a paid sex worker known as a "hyena" once they reach puberty.

The annual power lunch event by the Murtala Muhammed Foundation has become an important medium where internationally acclaimed and highly distinguished speakers deliver inspiring keynote addresses on pertinent developmental issues relating to African women. The goal of the Power Lunch is to create an ambiance to stimulate quality engagement, rich discussion and networking opportunities amongst women in Nigeria and in other African countries.

H.E. Joyce Banda, President Republic of Malawi 2012-2014 delivereing the keynote address at the Women’s Power Lunch organised by the Murtala Muhammed Foundation

Mrs Aisha Muhammed-Oyebode, Chief Executive Officer, Murtala Muhammed Foundation delivering the welcome address at the Women’s Power Lunch organised by the Murtala Muhammed Foundation

H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo GCFR, President Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999-2007 at the Women’s Power Lunch organised by the Murtala Muhammed Foundation

L-R Mrs Aisha Muhammed-Oyebode, Chief Executive Officer, Murtala Muhammed Foundation; H.E. Joyce Banda, President Republic of Malawi 2012-2014 and H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo GCFR, President Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999-2007 at the Women’s Power Lunch organised by the Murtala Muhammed Foundation

Crosssection of guests at the Women’s Power Lunch organised by the Murtala Muhammed Foundation

L-R Mrs Aisha Muhammed-Oyebode, Chief Executive Officer, Murtala Muhammed Foundation; Representative of the wife of the Governor of Lagos State, Bolanle Patience Ambode; H.E. Joyce Banda, President Republic of Malawi 2012-2014 and Alhaja Aderoju Sinatu Ojikutu, Former Deputy Governor Lagos State at the Women’s Power Lunch organised by the Murtala Muhammed Foundation

L-R Justice Richard Banda, Former Chief Justice of Malawi and Swaziland; Mrs Aisha Muhammed-Oyebode, Chief Executive Officer, Murtala Muhammed Foundation; H.E. Joyce Banda, President Republic of Malawi 2012-2014; Senator Daisy Danjuma and Amb. Erieka Bennett, Head of Mission, the African Union Diaspora Forum at the Women’s Power Lunch organised by the Murtala Muhammed Foundation

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