CEGENSA and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Center Host High-Level Panel Discussion to Foster Women's Leadership and Gender Equality

The University of Ghana Centre for Gender Studies Advocacy, CEGENSA, through a collaboration with the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Presidential Center for Women and Development, has hosted a high-level panel discussion aimed at highlighting the importance of advancing women's leadership and exploring ways to promote gender equality and women's empowerment in leadership roles.

The discussions also focused on ways to promote gender equality and women's empowerment in leadership roles as well as inspiring the next generation of leaders in Ghana.

On the theme “Empowering Women Leaders: Driving Sustainable Solutions in Ghana,” the event had the Vice-Chancellor of the University, Prof. Nana Aba Appiah Amfo, as Chairperson and Host and H.E. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Former President of Liberia, as Special Guest.

The programme, which took place at the University of Ghana School of Law Auditorium, brought together prominent figures in politics, entrepreneurship and medicine to share their experiences and insights on leadership.

Notable participants who were also discussants during the event included Dr. Zanetor Agyeman-Rawlings, Member of Parliament for Klottey Korle Constituency; Madam Yawa Hansen-Quao, Social Entrepreneur and Leadership Advocate and Dr. Grace Ayensu-Danquah, Medical Director and Humanitarian Surgeon.

In welcoming participants, the Chairperson, Prof. Nana Aba Appiah Amfo, expressed her endorsement for the event, noting that there is a need for more of such programmes, which seek to create conversations that propel women’s participation in leadership. She mentioned that such events are important due to the great potential of women in the country, in Africa and across the world.

Prof. Amfo highlighted the importance of women supporting one another and working collectively to elevate the status of women in leadership roles. She, however, stated that women need to come along with each other. "Women supporting women is a powerful force for change. Let us work harder as women to bring each other up and create a more inclusive society." The Chairperson announced., “As the first female Vice-Chancellor, I have been involved in training activities. Even recently, I had a session with senior academics and administrators”.

The Vice-Chancellor disclosed that although the University of Ghana has many women as senior administrators and academics, they constitute only 30% of the staff population, with even fewer in leadership positions.

While applauding efforts to get women into leadership positions over the years, Prof. Amfo cautioned that this is not the time to be content but time for more hard work. She said, “we do not have to be very content with ourselves. We need to work harder because for me when I look behind, I want to see many young women coming up and positioning themselves for leadership in all spheres of our society.”

Prof. Nana Aba Appiah Amfo

The Guest Speaker, H.E. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, in her address congratulated the University for promoting women’s leadership, which is evident in the University having its Chancellor, Chair of Council, Vice-Chancellor, and Registrar as women. “I am also pleased about what this University has done for the promotion of women,” she said.

“This is a continuation of a conference I just had in Kigali, Rwanda, where women from all over the world participated in talking about what we can do to ensure a higher level of participation in all spheres of national and global activity to make sure that this gender equity that we all seek is understood by everybody,” Former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf indicated.

The former Liberian President expressed optimism that women, just like their colleagues who are men, should be able to compete, access equal opportunities, and take part in all spheres of leadership throughout their nations and throughout the world.

She conveyed her delight at being in Ghana and encouraged young women to pursue their aspirations in their respective fields.

H.E. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Member of Parliament for Klottey Korle Constituency and a discussant during the event, Dr. Zanetor Agyeman-Rawlings, recounted the challenges women face in politics and in other sectors.  She asserted, “As a country, we do not have a law against gender-based violence. And unfortunately, we keep hearing about the Affirmative Action Bill, which has still not made its way onto the floor. However, even if we were to push that through unless we have political party reform, where at the political party level, it makes it possible for women to reach the top, it all filters through and translates into numbers in Parliament.”

The Lawmaker called for continued efforts to push for change and inspire future generations.

Dr. Zanetor Agyeman-Rawlings

For her part, Social Entrepreneur and leadership advocate, Yawa Hansen-Quao, noted that Leadership is not defined by gender but by character and capability. She advocated for young women to be encouraged to embrace their unique leadership qualities.

Dr. Grace Ayensu-Danquah, also shared her experiences and journey. "The world needs more women leaders, especially in sectors like medicine and humanitarian work. Let us empower each other and amplify our voices for positive change," she voiced.

The discussion session which underscored the importance of ongoing dialogue and efforts to promote gender equality and women's empowerment in leadership roles was moderated by Taaka Awori, Leadership Practitioner, Coach and Speaker.