'In Women's Hands: Empowering the Next Generation of African Female Leaders' is a commitment to advance gender equality and women's empowerment, highlight the vital role of women in development and unlock the potential for economic growth that lies in African women. The MPULE Institute will create the Network of Women Investing in Africa (NEW Africa) Leadership Program to empower and mobilize the next generation of African female leaders who are dedicated to creating and implementing innovative, integrated solutions to address challenges in agriculture-led development. Over the next year, the MPULE Institute will mobilize partnerships to identify and engage 350 young female leaders, aged 40 and under, who have already been recognized at the country, continental or international levels for their commitment to championing social issues spanning Agriculture, Health, Education, Water, Energy, Infrastructure and Technology. The MPULE Institute will engage in comprehensive research on Gender and Development (GAD), create multisectoral programs and agendas for the NEW Africa Leadership Program, and convene multi-stakeholders including policymakers, gender machineries, private sector corporations, financial services and investment banking institutions, faith-based organizations, and non-governmental and civil society organizations to inform and build capacity of NEW African Leadership Program participants on closing the gender gap for development.
The goal of the NEW Africa Leadership Program is to increase young African women's representation and participation in global development agenda, put more resources and capabilities in women's hands, increase investment in social services and labor-saving technologies that are most beneficial to women, and unlock new opportunities and areas of productivity in sectors proven to lift women and their families from poverty. The NEW Africa Leadership Program will empower participants to become gender equality champions who will advocate for the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women and girls, promote women's rights to own and inherit property and have equal access to productive assets and resources, ensure women and girls have access to critical social services such as education and reproductive health, and increase women's political participation and access to decision-making.
- September: the MPULE Institute will finalize its NEW Africa Leadership Program overview and mobilize strategic partnerships
- October: the MPULE Institute will have identified the first 40 program participants to convene in commemoration of International Day of Rural Women (October 15), to engage on a multisectoral agenda on rural development (Agriculture, water, energy, health, education and infrastructure). We will bring a group of experts addressing rural development at a macro level (top-down approach) with program participants, some engaging at the grassroots level (bottom-up approach).
- November the Institute will travel to the first country of focus (South Africa, Ethiopia, Ghana) to engage with 40 young women leaders.
- December: the MPULE Institute will bring together another 40 participants in commemoration of World AIDS day to discuss health systems from a holistic multisectoral approach, including understanding Neglected Tropical Diseases, underlying disease burdens, health, productivity and economic growth. African policymakers, including mission representatives to the UN will be invited to provide framing and positioning on these issues in their respective countries.
- February/March: ahead of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW), the MPULE Institute will identify another 40 participants around our 4 pillared gender equality and women's empowerment framework: Women's human rights, economic empowerment, social empowerment and political empowerment
- April: the Institute will engage in another country of focus to jointly commemorate World Water Day and Earth Day, the will convene another 40 participants and experts to discuss water and sanitation (WASH) from a multisectoral standpoint.
- May/June: to commemorate Africa Day (May 25), the Institute will create a multidisciplinary, multisectoral, multi-stakeholder agenda on the future of Africa, and explore pathways to build the New African Economy with 40 program participants.
- In May the Institute will travel to South Africa to engage with 30-40 young women at the country level.
- August: to commemorate South African Women's Day on August 09th, the Institute will engage another 20-30 young women at the country level on the gender equality and women's empowerment in present day South Africa.
- September: the MPULE Institute will convene the last gathering of 40 program participants to commemorate African Union Day on September 9th, and to discuss the political economy of Africa and gender equality and women's empowerment within this narrative.
The NEW Africa Leadership Program will engage and empower 350 program participants over the year; equip them with leadership tools, skills, information and funding networks that will strengthen their voices and enable them to scale their own social projects that will indirectly impact 35,000 other women and girls.
Poverty is gendered in Africa. African women earn 10% of incomes and own 1% of assets. The poverty is not only economic but a broader sense of human poverty resulting in deprivation in education, health, and political participation and leadership. Gender inequality affects women in many ways: only 51% of African female over age 15 can read and write; 75% of people who test HIV positive aged 15-24 are women, rural African women on average work 16 hour days, bearing the burden for unpaid activities linked to lack of access to clean water and energy. Rural female farmers receive just 1% of agricultural investment despite constituting 50% of the agricultural labor force and being responsible for 80% of the food production and 50% of the agricultural output. Gender inequality in access to and control of a wide range of human, economic and social assets and other socio-economic, political and cultural constraints presents enormous challenges for women to achieve economic empowerment, and constitutes a key dimension of poverty. The feminization of poverty and agriculture means that women and the poor are often one and the same across rural Africa.
Research confirms that putting incomes and assets in the hands of women leads to higher investments in food security, health, education, nutrition and human development. Women reinvest 90% of their incomes in their children and families. Millennium Development Goal 3 (MDG3) on gender equality is shown to have multiplier effects that help advance the other MDGs, particularly MDG1 on poverty and hunger. Gender equality and women's empowerment is essential to human development, poverty eradication and economic growth in Africa.
The MPULE Institute is an advocacy and public policy think tank with 12 years of experience in convening and partnering with multi-stakeholders (particularly through the MPULE Foundation, our Botswana-based development foundation) to empower women to create multisectoral approaches and innovative solutions to address pressing issues.
Sources: Agricultural Technologies for Development, Report of the Secretary-General, United Nations, August 2011, New York; Gender and Economic Empowerment of Women, Africa Partnership Forum Support Unit and NEPAD Secretariat. Briefing Paper No. 3, September 2007; Africa Human Development Report 2012, Towards a Food Secure Future, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), 2012, New York; Women and WFP: Helping Women Help Themselves, World Food Programme, March 2011, Rome.
We're seeking financial resources to further develop our leadership, mentorship and enterprise development program. We are committed to maintaining already established peer-to-peer mentoring networks on Facebook, Skype, Google+ hangout, Twitter and Google Groups, and also pairing each change agent with an accomplished woman to provide face-to-face or e-mentoring. Our goal is to now build the NEW Africa Leadership Program into a launching platform for change agents wishing to apply for high-caliber fellowships with Echoing Green, Kiva, the Acumen Fund, Ashoka, Desmond Tutu Leadership Fellowship and/or Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs. We seek implementing partners for support in building a platform that can establish pipeline partnerships with such fellowship programs. In addition, we're also seeking best practice information on fostering social entrepreneurial ecosystems, and creating innovative hubs that can partner with GlobalShapers, Aspen ANDE Network, African Leadership Network and Young Global Leaders.