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Former President Olusegun Obasanjo, Dr Joyce Banda and Aisha Oyebode make a Case for Women in Government

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L-R Dr. Joyce Banda, President Republic of Malawi 2012-2014; Chief 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

Mrs. Joyce Banda, former President of Malawi, has called 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.

Dr. Banda, who was speaking at the Women’s Power Lunch on Thursday, said there was a need to create deliberate policies to promote participation by women in government stating it was time for women to develop a desire beyond the ordinary and bring themselves to the top.

The Women’s Power Lunch, which was on the theme “Women in Solidarity: A New Paradigm for Inclusion” is an annual event, aimed to addresses pertinent developmental issues relating to African women, was attended by women leaders and influencers from all walks of life including government, private sector, civil society, academia/students, media and the arts.

Calling for implementation of affirmative action, Mrs Banda stated 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 and as well 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… If you do not reserve your seat at the table, you will become the meal!”

She 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

Supporting Dr Banda’s call for an actively equipped women base in governance, Former President 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.”

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. 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? This is why the women who have broken these barriers are such powerful and compelling heroines”

Please click here to view pictures from the Women’s Power Lunch

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The Daughters of ChibokIn the middle of the night on April 14, 2014, Boko Haram, abducted 276 girls from their secondary school’s dormitory in the town of Chibok in northeastern Nigeria. Over the following days, 57 girls managed to escape. But two years later, 219 are still missing.

During the last four months of 2015, the Murtala Muhammed Foundation embarked on a project to interview the parents of each of the missing girls. Our team managed to meet relatives of 201 of them.

The interviews and photographs will be published in a book, “The Daughters of Chibok”, a memorial to the girls, which aims to capture their lives before the abduction and to highlight how their families have struggled to cope afterwards.


Haunted by loss: Chibok parents share their stories (CNN, April 2016)

The daughters of Chibok (Thomson Reuters Foundation News, April 2016)

Nigeria: Chibok parents’ unremitting distress(DW, April 2016)

What’s Worse than a Girl Being Kidnapped? (New York Times, April 2016)

The Other Girls Kidnapped By Boko Haram In The 2 Years Since #BringBackOurGirls(The Huffington Post)

Girl held by Boko Haram: ‘I’d have shot at rescuers’ (CNN, April 2016)

Daughter of assassinated Nigeria leader battles denial over Chibok girls​(Reuters, April 2016)

Parents of Nigeria’s missing Chibok girls cling to hope of finding their daughters (Reuters, April 2016)

Keeping Chibok’s missing daughters in the headlines(Independent Online, April 2016)

In Town of Missing Girls, Sorrow, but Little Progress(New York Times, May 2014)

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