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Africa’s Female Leaders: Challenging the status quo & breaking the glass ceiling

GENEVA, Switzerland, – Even though women make up a little over half of Africa’s growing population, they have had little, albeit increasing, involvement in power and strategic decision-making.

As part of the African Women in Business initiative launched at this year’s Africa CEO Forum, a high-level panel of female leaders gathered to discuss barriers to women climbing the corporate ladder and solutions to tackling the gender gaps in leadership across the continent.

Gender Diversity was one of the recurring themes during the panel and it was stressed that gender diversity was growing, albeit slowly by 20% each year.

Tonye Cole, CEO of Sahara Group and the only male on the panel, highlighted the differences in male and female leadership styles. He explained that women are more balanced and weigh their different options before making a decision. He added that unlike men, women were not driven by profit or making money.

According to the McKinsey & Company Women Matter Africa report which outlines the continent’s progress in terms of women’s representation, there is a positive correlation between the proportion of female board members and improved financial corporate performance, whether in the private or public realm. Rosemary Yeboah, Executive Director and Group Corporate Banking Head at Ecobank therefore challenged companies to “create policies that will help the women to move up in their companies”.

The panelists discussed the double burden syndrome, – balancing professional and personal life – which is one of the main barriers women still face when it comes to climbing the professional ladder. Madeleine Berre, Gabon’s Minister of Trade and Industry traced the problem back to the values instilled in young African women at a tender age, stressing that “what needs to change is how young girls are raised”.

Jennifer Blanke of the African Development Bank talked about the responsibility of women leaders to be role models for younger colleagues, saying that “it’s not about climbing the ladder to get to the top. It’s once you’re up there what are you going to do?”

A public-private working group was organised on the second day of the Forum to share policies and get participants to commit to an action plan to promote gender diversity in the workplace. The recommendations and solutions discussed during the meeting will be communicated separately.

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of the Africa CEO Forum.

All photos of the event can be downloaded free of copyrights by clicking on:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/theafricaceoforum/

View the highlights of the AWARDS ceremony on the Youtube channel of the AFRICA CEO FORUM:
https://www.youtube.com/user/AFRICACEOFORUM

For more information, please visit our website at: www.theafricaceoforumawards.com

Developed in partnership with the African Development Bank, the AFRICA CEO FORUM is an event organised by Groupe Jeune Afrique, publisher of Jeune Afrique and The Africa Report, and Rainbow Unlimited, a Swiss company specialising in organising events promoting and facilitating business.

Launched in 2012, the AFRICA CEO FORUM has become the leading international meeting on the development of Africa and its companies, in a top-level professional setting. The 2016 edition hosted over 1,000 African and international personalities, including 600 business leaders from 43 African countries and 100 high-level speakers.

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