Leveraging Diversity and Inclusion for Development Solutions in Africa
Every year in March, the World Bank Group – and the world - comes together to mark International Women’s day as part of the Diversity and Inclusion agenda. Four WBG offices (Burundi, Dakar, Ghana and Nairobi) across sub Saharan Africa commemorated the event by hosting interactive events on diversity, many of which featured inspiring speakers.
At the Nairobi hub, Ms. Susan Mboya Kidero, President of the Coca Cola Africa Foundation spoke about how organizations can empower female staff. Drawing from her own experience at multinational companies; Ms. Kidero recommended mentorship programs to foster female talent. Education is at the heart of Ms. Kidero’s efforts – she is also the founder of the Zawadi Africa Education Fund, which provides scholarships to girls from under-privileged backgrounds.
In Burundi, World Bank Group staff explored the role women can play in rebuilding countries recovering from conflict. The discussion was led by Marguerite Barankitse, an energetic Burundian humanitarian and activist who spoke to staff in Bujumbura.
Barankitse, who survived Burundi’s long civil war and today runs a network that cares for thousands of children, said that hand-outs are not a long-term solution, especially in countries rebuilding after conflict. She urged women to become active in business and in their communities to speed reconstruction and development in Burundi and beyond.
“As a woman, you can do anything, you should be change agents in your own community, reunite people by creating jobs,” Barankitse said. “The biggest threat to peace in Burundi is not ethnicity, but poverty.”
The Dakar event was led by Saran Kebet-Koulibaly, the IFC West and Central Africa Regional Director who encouraged that more be done to pursue the benefits of gender diversity at senior levels. The Ghana office invited Mrs. Marie-Laure Akin-Olugbade (African Development Bank), Mr Dei Tumi (Motivational Speaker) and Angela Dwamena-Aboagye (Arch Foundation) to speak at the event.
The International Women’s Day events also marked the re-launch of the Africa Women in IFC Network (AWIN), which provides professional development, mentorship and networking opportunities to women working in IFC's Africa department.
AWIN, first created in 2010, is being re-launched as a more inclusive network with many of its programs and activities open to non-members, including men. AWIN was established on the premise that an organization that fails to unleash both female and male potential can only ever operate at half of its potential.