Africa’s Women Of Power
Across the world, women make up about half the population yet they never come close to holding 50 percent of the positions of power in any government.
In the US, only six out of 50 states have a female governor. In Africa, there are only two female presidents, out of 54 African Union member states. But are there more opportunities for women in the political arena in Africa today? Can female leaders make a real difference? And what are the struggles they face as women in leadership roles?
This week, South2North talks to two game-changing female political leaders at the World Economic Forum on Africa in Cape Town. Both women were born in poor rural areas in Africa.
President Joyce Banda of Malawi used to sell vegetables in the markets. Today, she is the first Southern African woman to lead a country. Time magazine has also named her one of the world’s most influential leaders.
Banda talks to Redi Tlhabi about being a woman in power, and what women can do to help one another. She speaks candidly about her own experiences with domestic abuse, and the challenges involved in having to make many tough and unpopular decisions to bolster her country’s economy.
Banda led by example, selling the presidential jet and reducing her salary by 30 percent.
“All these things I did because I felt it was necessary for me to demonstrate to Malawians as well to say that I could also make sacrifices. When you are sincere, when people can see that you are sincere and that you are a genuine person, you mean what you are saying, you love them and they love you back, nobody can doubt you,” she says.
Dr Mamphela Ramphele overcame the obstacles of living under a harsh apartheid system, to become a medical doctor, activist and businesswoman. She is now launching her own political platform in South Africa.
Ramphele speaks about her new political platform Agang, and how her success is a result of her parents holding up a very high standard for her: “You can’t avoid it. In a way, as a woman, you have to go into leadership positions expecting that you will be undermined, and therefore you have to stand up and make sure that those who are trying to undermine you don’t get a chance. You don’t do that by playing the male game, but you do that by leveraging the strengths of women leadership.”