“How does a society hope to transform itself if it shoots itself in the foot by squandering more than half of its capital investment? The truth of the matter is that societies that recognise the real and untapped socioeconomic, cultural and political power of women thrive. Those that refuse to value and leverage women’s talent, energies, and unique skills remain developmental misfits. It is not difficult to demonstrate this with a growing body of evidence.”—H.E. Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda.

Today, 25th May, 2017 marks the African Union (AU) Day and ExLA Group Gender Programme (EGGP) joins hands with the numerous Africans on the continent and in the diaspora to celebrate the journey of Africa’s political and socioeconomic emancipation started over 50 years ago.

As we commemorate the 54th Anniversary of the African Union (AU), we take a look at a critical aspect of the development of the continent – Women in Leadership. Africa is going through a period of transition in its demography with the working population (15 to 64) outnumbering the dependent population. This means that Africa stands the chance to experience radical economic growth and development based on its population distribution. But this will only happen if we are able to rally all the human resources in their full potentials.

According to the African Development Bank (AfDB), 2015, women form about 70% of the workforce of the informal sector where work is unstable, poorly paid and seldom recognised. In the formal sector (private and public) women are mostly found in staff roles and hardly get the opportunity to take decisive decisions which affect organisational/institutional/national growth.

Section 52 of Aspiration 6 of AU’s Agenda 2063 makes an emphatic statement on what harnessing Africa’s demographic dividend means: “Africa of 2063 will have full gender parity, with women occupying at least 50% of elected public offices at all levels and half of managerial positions in the public and the private sectors. The economic and political glass ceiling that restricted women’s progress will have been shattered.”

These will however become reality if the right policies and institutions to carry them are established and resourced. So far the few positive examples on the continent have shown that empowering women and implementing gender responsive initiatives do not rest solely on the availability of funds but the commitment to actually implement them. This is what harnessing Africa’s demographic dividend is all about.

In the same vein, the 2017 edition of the Young African Women Congress will seek to establish the basis for which Africans must support the movement to get women in leadership at all levels of development. This will happen under the theme, “Harnessing Africa’s Demographic Dividend: The Case for Women in Leadership”. The congress is scheduled for 23rd to 27th July, 2017 in Accra-Ghana and will bring together young women from across the continent within the age bracket of 18 and 40. Participants will be guided by renowned women leaders who will take them through activities including: keynote presentation, panel discussions, group sessions, career fairs, culture night and tour among many other exciting activities. Prospective participants can register at

We wish all African Heads of State and their citizens a happy AU Day.

Long live the AU

Long live Africa and long live its citizens.