Panel 4

Leadership and innovation 2030: Gender empowerment for sustainable futures in Africa

Panel organisers: J.M.Atibila, I. Tshabangu, Leeds Trinity University, United Kingdom

E-mail of panel organisers:

This panel links women leadership and empowerment to innovation and sustainable development in Africa with six topics:.

  1. “Marginalisation of women and leadership failures in Africa: past and present”, discusses traditional gender roles and how male dominance has contributed to social and economic failings, particularly institutionalised corruption. We present evidence showing how changing roles and empowerment of women have influenced African politico-social scenes, leading to openness, accountability, transparency and good governance, and set the stage for panel papers on politics, education, entrepreneurship, and health.
  2. “Changing dynamics of women in political leadership in Africa”, explores women empowerment and participation in politics at local, national and continental levels, and discusses their influence and impact on governance at state, AU, and sub-regional economic blocs such as ECOWAS, EAC, SADC, etc.
  3. “Women leaders in entrepreneurship: financial independence and business sustainability”, analyses women’s roles in enterprise development, particularly SMEs, as drivers of economic growth in Africa, and discusses their future role in job creation and poverty alleviation
  4. “Women leadership in educational development in Africa”, critically looks at the changing trend of women as leaders of African Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs), including vice chancellors, deans, and registrars and discusses and discusses their future role in internationalisation of education, and private-public partnerships.
  5. “Women leadership in health systems management in Africa”, presents findings on healthcare improvement in Africa as a result of changing gender roles, and how this could lead to significant improvement of SDGs Health Targets by 2030.
  6. “Women leadership in human rights and social justice”, presents findings on women’s roles in Africa’s judicial and justice system, highlighting their roles as Justice Ministers and other positions in the criminal justice system, including International Court of Justice.

Approved abstracts Panel 4

1. Women leadership and empowerment for strengthening African healthcare systems towards sustainable growth and development

Author: Joyce Addo-Atuah (Touro College of Pharmacy, New York, USA)

The relationship between population health and socioeconomic growth and development has been established by the World Health Organization’s Commission on Macroeconomics and Health and reflected in the United Nations’ global developmental frameworks in the context of global health-the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the current Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

In the context of disproportionate burden of global communicable diseases, a rapidly increasing burden of noncommunicable diseases, sociopolitical instability, chronically-under-resourced healthcare systems and infrastructure, amidst gender disparities in access to education, economic capital, and the requisite knowledge, skills and tools to enable women make free and informed healthcare decisions for themselves and their families, empowering women is the answer for strengthening African healthcare systems.

Healthcare system strengthening through promoting women leadership and empowerment is particularly needed in Africa as these would curb the unacceptably high fertility rates, the health consequences of poor sanitation and lack of access to clean water and adequate nutrition, which all contribute to further burden the already poor and weak healthcare system and put children and women at ever-increasing higher risk for poor health outcomes. In spite of all these challenges, lack of leadership capacity has been cited as being the most critical with respect to healthcare system strengthening in Africa. Rwanda is therefore a positive case study of how women leadership and empowerment can transform a healthcare system devastated by genocide into one that has registered more than a doubled life expectancy, a 66% decline in child mortality, a greater than 90% health insurance coverage and a data-proven associated fourfold increase in per capita GDP, all within the past two decades. According to the Rwandan Minister of Health Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, “Better health turns to better wealth,” since “a better health system means a healthy workforce and a healthy workforce means economic growth.”

2. Women leadership in educational development in Africa

Authors: C. S. Kpeglo (University of Health and Allied Sciences, Ho, Ghana)
Lily Adu-Aboagye (University of Health and Allied Sciences, Ho, Ghana)

This paper presents women in educational development in Africa. The paper attempts to critically look at the changing trend of women as leaders of African Higher Educational Institutions (HEIS), including Vice Chancellors, Pro-Vice Chancellors, Registrars, Finance Directors and Librarians and discusses their future role in internationalisation of education.

Leadership has been generally associated with male styles of behaviour, and perceptions that women cannot lead effectively at higher levels of organisations. The mental image of a leader held by most people is a male. A large part of the problem is the entrenched notion that men are more ‘natural’ leaders than women. This has created barriers to women occupying many leadership positions, including higher education institutions. However, there is a growing body of evidence to show how women in leadership positions have been contributing to changing countless inhibiting laws and policies that have undermined the existence and survival of women in now developed countries all over the world (Sena, 2016).

Women tend to be more caring, and are better suited to and naturally drawn towards teaching duties and have transformed their societies especially in academia by their sheer resilience, commitment and dedication. It is not surprising therefore, that women have climbed the educational management structures to occupy key leadership positions in academic institutions in Africa. Drawing numerous examples from across Africa, the paper shows the incredible roles that women play in the educational development and growth in Africa. We call on African HEIs governors to develop policies that give women equality of opportunities in leading all sections of academic and research institutions to ensure transparency and effective leadership.

Key words: Barriers, Equality, Leadership, Resilience, Transparency

3. The role of women in post genocide conflict transformation in Rwanda: a case of women’s associations in Karongi District

Authors: Albert Irambeshya (University of Rwanda, Rwanda)
Jean Baptiste Ndikubwimana (University of Rwanda, Rwanda)

In Rwanda, the 1994 Tutsi genocide is considered as a particular conflict that has killed more than one million people and innumerable material loss. The 1994 genocide has left the Rwandan society deeply divided where the survivors and the members of genocide perpetrators families were in a situation of hatred and suspicion. This situation was a major concern for the Government of Rwanda where it has initiated the program of unity and reconciliation. In order to be fully implemented, the unity and reconciliation among Rwandan, has required the involvement of different stakeholders including community based organizations, especially women associations. To restore peace and stability, the involvement of all Rwandans both men and women was a paramount importance. It is in this regard, women in Karongi District both genocide survivors and those from families of genocide perpetrators have shown their ability to play a big role in conflict transformation, by engaging themselves in constructive change initiatives that have allowed them to live aside their division and opt for a positive peace. This paper aims at analyzing the role played by women’s associations of Korongi District in post genocide conflicts transformation focusing mainly on factors that have made women in Karongi district to come to put an end to the climate of hatred and suspicion that prevailed among them and opted for the social cohesion and peaceful cohabitation which culminates into mutual assistance and cooperation.

Key words: Conflict transformation and genocide.

4. Flowers of the desert: State building in the feminine

Author: Joana Mouta (Uppsala University, Sweden)

Western Sahara is known as the last non-self-governing, postcolonial territory in Africa. This territory has been under foreign dominion for centuries but it is a neighbour occupier that still lingers over the territory’s control. After an endured occupation and withdrawal from colonizer Spain, open war and silence struggle, this forgotten land is under the rule of Morocco, for the last forty years. Its people, the Saharawi, were left to oblivion in the midst of a desert, where life can barely strive and their right to self-determination was written in the sand.

In the midst of such human calamity, that the World decided to turn a blind eye, there is a strong seed of hope: women. With war came displacement, hardship and the utmost extreme conditions of livelihood. Most of the Saharawi population fled to encampments in Tindouf, Algerian soil, initially as temporary address, that soon turned out to be a 40-year-old test of resilience in one of the most treacherous environments of the planet: the Sahara Desert.

While men left to fight in the trenches, women were left to run the camps and organise life. War brought them the opportunity to get involved in the independence struggle. And, besides the common prejudices, this Muslim-majority territory acknowledged women a prominent role in leading democratic processes, making economic decisions and managing all encampments needs.

Women divorce without stigma attached, owning property and being the head of the family. Politically, they have been the voice, in all matters, regarding the claim for respect of human rights in the region. They are the core engine of encampments economy, excelling in administrating the humanitarian aid and creating entrepreneurship opportunities and synergies. They created the bricks used to build better shelters and kids learn in schools were women teach.

When everything else has failed, they have led the fight through poetry and arts, educating the future generations on a sense of honour and resilience that not many other conflicts have seen. With this panel presentation we hope to enlighten the audience in the cornerstone role of women in state building and conflict management by presenting the example of Saharawi women in the Western Sahara question.

5. Marginalisation of women and leadership failures in Africa: past and present

Authors: Icarbord Tshabangu (Leeds Trinity University, United Kingdom)
John Atibila (Global Citizenship & Diaspora Network, CODESA, United Kingdom)

Leadership has generally been associated with men and male traits of behaviour and as a consequence the perception of a leader tend to be dominated by male stereotypes (Klenke, 1996). Broadbringe (2007) advanced a view that there is a gender difference in leadership and that women bring different qualities to leadership and management positions, which help organizations maintain a competitive advantage. Rosener’s (1990) study of female and male executives with similar backgrounds concluded that women tended to manage in different but effective ways than men. In the last 3 decades most of Africa has witnessed a steady rise in gender equity particularly in education, which has given rise to improved numbers of women accessing both lower and higher levels of education. Nevertheless, such progress has not fully translated into senior management and leadership positions where male dominance and discriminatory paternalistic ideologies still abound. This study posits that the generic marginalisation of women in Africa and the elitist exclusion of women in senior leadership cannot be seen in isolation but is closely tied to the socio –economic leadership failures that have continued to plague the continent both in the past and in the present. Through an analytic review strategy, the study therefore examined the historical body of knowledge on women leadership, and the existing perceptions and traditions on gender roles and how male dominance may be a strong factor contributing to social and economic failings, particularly institutionalised corruption in neo colonial Africa. We present evidence showing how the empowerment of women could positively influence the African politico-social scenes, leading to more accountability, transparency and good governance.

6. Business succession strategies and sustainability of women owned family business in Kenya: Case of Meru County

Authors: James M.Kilika, (Kenyatta University, Kenya)
Sarah Ameso (Kenyatta University, Kenya)
Philip Wambua Peter (Kenyatta University, Kenya)

Most economies of the countries of the world are undergoing socio-cultural transformations that are affecting how the societies are run. Among the transformations are those related to gender roles in participating in economic activities. Most cultures in the African setting had traditionally assigned economic activities to men while women were assigned family and domestic roles. However, under the new transformed society, women are becoming more economically empowered as they acquire education, work and even start and run their own enterprises. In the Kenyan setting, a number of government initiatives have been rolled out to support women based enterprises anchored on the premise of positioning these enterprises as key contributors to economic development. Most of the enterprises however start at the family level and are bound to face the challenges of family owned enterprises that may affect their long term viability and sustainability. An important concern for managers, policy makers and researchers in Enterpreneurship touches on the management of succession and how this may influence the viability of the enterprises after one generation has handed over to the next generation. While it may be easy to explain the situation for male dominated enterprises, given the cultural backgrounds facing most settings for the role of women in society, such may not be the case for women owned enterprises. The literature therefore needs to examine how women owned family enterprises manage succession and how this is likely to affect the sustainability of the enterprises. This paper examines women owned family business succession strategies in Meru County in Kenya. Specifically the paper assesses how four strategies influence enterprise sustainability: identification of the successor, building succession capacity, enacting family ties and managing the enterprise handover. The practical implications for policy are discussed and direction for future research in entrepreneurship suggested.

Key Words: Women Owned Enterprises, Family Owned Businesses, Business Succession, Enterprise, Sustainability

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