African and U.S. Government and Policy Leaders Underscore Value of Women in Public Service

Front row (L to R): Mariama Bayard-Gamatié, Nigerien politician and women's rights activist; Hon. Catherine Samba-Panza., Central African Republic Interim President (2014-2016); Hon. Hafida Benchahrida, Algerian Senator; Hon. Maria Teresa Fernández de la Vega, President, Fundación Mujeres Por África; Hon. Sheila Jackson-Lee, U.S. Congresswoman; Hon. Joyce Banda, President of Malawi (2012-2014); Fafa Sid Lakhdar Benzerrouki, Chairwoman, Algerian National Human Rights Council; Xolelwa Mlumbi-Peter, Chief Director, Africa Multilateral Economic Relation, South Africa Department of Trade and Industry; Dr. Angelika Hoffman, Deputy Director for Science and International Initiatives, Yale University. Back row (L to R): Dr. Leslie Powell, Associate Director of Leadership Programs, Yale University; Thuli Madonsela, Public Prosecutor of South Africa (2009-2016); Ted Wittenstein, Director of International Relations and Leadership Programs, Yale University; Hon. Isata Kabia, Minister of State, Sierra Leone Ministry of Foreign Affairs; Hon. Sylvia Blyden, Sierra Leone Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children; Hon. Netumbo Nandi-Ndaitwah Namibia Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for International Relations and Cooperation; Curtis Etherly, Director of Government Relations, The Coca-Cola Company; Amb. Lawrence Wohlers, Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region of Africa, U.S. Department of State; H.E. Martin Andjaba, Ambassador of Namibia to the United States.

On May 18, Meridian International Center convened senior public and private sector experts on African affairs and women’s leadership for a special breakfast in honor of 11 women senior government leaders from Algeria, Central African Republic, Côte D’Ivoire, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Sierra Leone and South Africa. Held in the U.S. Capitol in partnership with The Coca-Cola Company and the Yale University Office of International Affairs, the breakfast maximized the opportunity for the African leaders to interact and network with their American counterparts.

The African women leaders serve or have served as heads of state, cabinet ministers, parliamentarians, and in other senior government positions. They were in Washington as participants of the Leadership Forum for Strategic Impact, a leadership exchange partnership led by Yale and the Spain-based Fundación Mujeres por África. The program consists of a series of discussions and debates on key issues faced by women in leadership positions across the globe.

Ambassador Stuart Holliday, President and CEO of Meridian International Center, opened the Global Dialogue Series program with a welcome message. He was followed by Ted Wittenstein, Director of International Relations and Leadership Programs at Yale University; Curtis Etherly, Director of Government Relations with The Coca-Cola Company, and Maria Teresa Fernández de la Vega, President of the Fundación Mujeres Por África and Former Deputy Prime Minister of Spain.

Throughout the course of the breakfast, inspirational remarks on the power and promise of women in public sector leadership roles were delivered by Congressman Ami Beri (D-CA-7), a Member of the House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights and International Organizations, and Congresswoman Sheila Jackson-Lee (D-TX-18), the Ranking Member of the House Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism, Homeland Security, and Investigations.

In addition to the Members of Congress, the breakfast was attended by His Excellency Martin Andjaba, Ambassador of Namibia to the United States; The Honorable Joyce Banda, former President of Malawi; Sheila Crowley, Acting Director, Peace Corps, Ambassador Laurie Fulton, Meridian Trustee; Joan Harrigan-Farrelly, Deputy Director, Women’s Bureau, U.S. Department of Labor; Dr. Tuajuanda Jordan, President, St. Mary’s College of Maryland; Ambassador Catherine Russell, recent Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, U.S. Department of State; Ambassador Stephanie Sanders Sullivan, Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs, U.S. Department of State; and, Ambassador Lawrence Wohlers, Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region of Africa, U.S. Department of State. Overall, more than 55 women’s leadership trailblazers came together for the morning celebration.

Project Partnes

The Coca-Cola Company
Yale University

Project summary

African and U.S. Government and Policy Leaders Underscore Value of Women in Public Service | May 2017
Number of Attendees: 56
Regions: Africa, Europe and Eurasia
Countries: Algeria, Central African Republic, Côte d’Ivoire, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Spain
Impact Areas: Empowering Women and Girls, Governance and Transparency
Program Areas: Convening
Partners: Private Sector