A US based firm, the Africa–America Institute (AAI) has recognised President Joyce Banda’s role in championing women’s rights and business leadership. She was decorated with the award alongside her mentor and counterpart, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf on Thursday at a Gala Dinner held at Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York in the USA.
The Malawian leader was specifically singled out for her involvement with rural women and girls through the National Association of Business Women and the Joyce Banda Foundation while Sirleaf was recognised for market women movement in Liberia.
The organisers note that Banda’s award came through because of her strong passion for initiatives aimed at unleashing the untapped entrepreneurial potential of the underprivileged especially women and children. The president has over the years been involved in empowering women with business plans and grants through the National Association of Business Women and the Young Engineering Leaders Network. The two initiatives are aimed at providing integrated rural development services to over 250, 000 beneficiaries.
Speaking after receiving the award, Banda said she was honoured and humbled to be eligible for the award, attributing it to the support and hard work of women who benefited from the interventions. She said Malawi had decided to embrace not only women leadership roles but also create space where they could articulate their vision and aspirations.
“We are currently working at creating jobs for women and girls so that they can actively participate in the development process of the country,” President Banda added, pointing out that at least 30 percent of women live in rural areas.
Banda said there was need for innovative strategies which could help to overcome challenges being in the areas of agriculture, security and other women economic activities.
She disclosed that she has lined up a number of activities meant to change the situation of women and the youth which included creation of jobs and wealth for women and youth, encouraging women to support fellow women to get to leadership positions.