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Who Represents the African Woman?

8 May 2009 No Comment

Madelein Mkunu

Madelein Mkunu

South Africa

Women have to play a significant role to make changes here on the continent. Women have been shuttered down for so many years, not using their potential. Men have been making the decisions without our input. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf inspires me and many others, but only about 5% of our women have access to really significant roles. That is changing-one step at a time.

Governments need women to play a role in the rebuilding of their countries. Women need access when any important decision is made. Leading Women of Africa, the organization I founded, advocates with the African governments, saying that they need to invite women on board as development partners and give them access to international platforms.

The government of Congo-Brazzaville learned about us and came to Capetown in March. After meeting them, we have just received an invitation to go meet women in business in their country and develop strategies for partnership. They want us to develop a variety of economic projects with women on the ground. When you believe, God will open doors, and this door has opened!

We are inviting partners outside of Africa, leading women who want to invest in the continent. We have a partnership with Paula Constantino and 1000 Women Can Change the World. We also argue for the representation of African women in international events where economic leaders meet to take decisions or discuss policies changes.

I spoke with the organizers of the G-8 in London before last October’s meetings, and I challenged them. I asked, “Who represents the African woman? You are calling this an African Infrastructure Conference?” They came to their senses, and they have created a platform geared to the women of Africa.

We’re planning a conference on leadership and good government in September 2009 in Cape Town. We believe leadership of women is the key to change the face of Africa.. We are aiming to meet with all the first ladies of the African nations and recruit their support.

I was in accounting for 13 years, but the seed of this initiative has been growing within me since I was a little girl. In 2007 I went through some traumatic times and it grew faster, until finally I quit my job to follow this passion. I am stirring women to get involved and I trust that doors will keep on opening. My short-term goal is a women’s leadership center based here in Capetown to help women discover their leadership qualities. Mid-term I’m aiming for a women’s bank or women’s fund, because access to finances is so much needed. And long term, I expect that we will play a major role at the continental level. I want women to be well represented in every nation in Africa and to influence the economic decisions and processes. I want to see women everywhere raised into leadership roles. Good government is absolutely critical for Africa today.

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