By Imali Ngusale
African women deserve to be at the forefront of leadership at all levels on the continent, feminists at the first Feminist Transformative Leadership Academy in Africa in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania asserted.
The Leadership Academy is a partnership that brings together the Aga Khan Foundation and the African Women’s Development and Communications Network (FEMNET).
“As a feminist institution, we are dedicated to sharing in the responsibility of sisterhood and we are dedicated to genuinely creating inclusive and responsive approaches for transformational leadership,” said Memory Kachambwa the Executive Director of the African Women’s Development and Communications Network (FEMNET).
According to Kachambwa, African women have the right to be in powerful positions because they have what it takes to lead and it is a right granted to women by the Maputo Protocol.
The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa, better known as the Maputo Protocol, is an international human rights instrument established by the African Union that went into effect in 2005. It guarantees comprehensive rights to women including the right to take part in the political process, to social and political equality with men, improved autonomy in their reproductive health decisions, and an end to female genital mutilation. It was adopted in 2003 in Maputo, Mozambique.
Speaking during the opening ceremony Dr. Rose Reuben, the Executive Director of the Tanzania Media Women’s Association (TAMWA) said the African feminist transformational academy was a timely event because it equipped feminists from Africa to challenge the oppressive structures through the media.
Dr. Reuben noted that women have always been short-changed in leadership positions yet their potential and power are critical for sustainable leadership.
Susan Lankisa from Dream Achievers in Kenya noted that there is a need for collaboration to achieve gender equality. Lankisa insisted that gender equality is not just a human right but a women’s fight!
“There is a war against women and we need to fight against it,” added Nandumio Nsimbane from South Africa.
“Women have been somehow written out of history,” decried Nsimbane, “We must make room for all women in all their diversities so that we realize theism of pan africanism.”
The event brought together over forty feminists and gender rights activists from Canada, Madagascar, Mozambique, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and South Africa.
In concert to the same view, Dorothy Atieno, FEMNET’s transformative leadership coordinator said,” The realities of women in Africa reflect patriarchal socio-cultural inequalities along gender lines.”
While we may not be able to change all the socio-cultural inequalities, we believe that transformational leadership is a timely discourse that will captain African women into positions of influence,” said Dorothy Otieno.
Perhaps the African Feminist transformational leadership academy is the long-awaited panacea that will effectively challenge the patriarchal structures of oppression that have derailed women’s ascension to power.