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African women leaders in Monrovia for Amujae forum

Women leaders from across the African continent are converging in Monrovia for the second Amujae Leadership Forum convened by the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Presidential Center for Women and Development (EJS Center).

In a press release issued in Monrovia, the EJS Center said it is delighted to welcome women leaders from across the African continent to Monrovia for the second Amujae Leadership Forum which is expected to address the theme of “Building Resilience” during uncertain times.

The Forum will be facilitated by Ama Van Dantzig, Co-Founder of Dr. Monk, and will include addresses and workshops run by several distinguished speakers including former Liberian President Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf; and Ambassador Deborah Malac, former United States Ambassador to Liberia and Board Chair of the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Presidential Foundation, among others.

The women taking part in the Forum are part of the Amujae Initiative, the EJS Center’s flagship program. The initiative prepares women to excel in the highest echelons of public leadership and bring other women along.

Drawn from a diverse range of personal and professional backgrounds, the Amujae Leaders include members of parliament, a governor, a mayor, and several government ministers from 16 countries across Africa. 

They were selected through a rigorous application process from hundreds of applicants and they each have a track record of demonstrable achievements in public life and a drive to uplift African women and girls.

This year’s forum will be the first gathering of Amujae Leaders since the official launch on March 8, 2020, on the cusp of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Focused on the theme “Building Resilience,” the forum aims to equip the Amujae Leaders with the tools to continue their leadership journeys through uncertain times and support their respective countries in rebuilding following COVID-19. 

It also harnesses the power of these accomplished women leaders in advancing women’s leadership in Liberia and across the African continent.

The Amujae Leaders will hear from a range of distinguished speakers, including Madam Sirleaf, Amb. Deborah Malac, Former Ambassador of the United States to Liberia and EJS Center Board members during the private, three-day Forum.

Addressing the Amujae Leaders ahead of the Forum, Madam Sirleaf said: “We’ve been waiting for this to happen. We’re excited about all you will exchange among yourselves, and we are looking forward to what will be a great three days.

“We hope you will leave more emboldened, more empowered, and more ready to take on whatever comes your way as you seek to achieve your leadership goals.”

The Amujae Leadership Forum has been organized with support from Big Win Philanthropy. 

The Amujae Leadership Forum will run from 29 October 2021 through 31 October 2021 and it is a closed event.

The high profile women selected for the Forum include the following:

Ghada Mostafa Labib is the Deputy Minister for Institutional Development at the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT). She possesses over 20 years of client management and business development leadership experience, in both the private and public sector, with distinguished and diversified hands-on experience in major projects management.

Prior to her appointment, Ms. Labib held several executive positions. She served as the Deputy Minister of Planning for Administrative Reform, the Prime Minister’s Advisor for Follow-up and ICT, and the Chief of Staff at the Council of Ministers.

She also served as the Minister’s Assistant for Institutional Development at the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), the Minister’s Associate for Institutional Development, Program Manager at the Ministry of State for Administrative Development (MSAD) and the Head of Technical Office at MSAD.

In addition, Ms. Labib held a number of positions at Giza Systems Company, including as Project Manager, Team Leader, Senior Programmer and Programmer. 

Ms. Labib earned a BSc in Electronics and Communication Engineering from Cairo University, in 1992. She received her MBA from the École Supérieure Libre des Sciences Commerciales Appliquées (ESLSCA). 

This is in addition to a number of certificates she holds, in fields including Business Continuity Management, Design of Public Policies and their Evaluation, and Public Governance and Administration. She is currently studying law at Cairo University.

Fatoumatta Njai is a member of the National Assembly of the Gambia and also represents the country as a Member of Parliament at the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). She is on the Committee of Social Affairs, Gender and Women Empowerment in the ECOWAS Parliament, and is a Member of the Standing Committee on Human Rights and Constitutional Affairs in the National Assembly.

Partnering with organizations such as UN Women, National Democratic Institute (NDI), International Republican Institute (IRI), and ECOWAS Gender Development Centre (EGDC), Ms. Njai works to help increase the number of women in decision-making positions across Africa.

Ms. Njai is the Founder of the Yayi Denton Programme for Youth, Women and Vulnerable People, a youth and women empowerment organ+E6ization focused on skills training and capacity building to help vulnerable populations improve their livelihoods.

Having worked for over 10 years in banking, Ms. Njai has vast experience in both the public and private sector. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Politics and International Relations, a postgraduate diploma in Law, and an MBA.

Kula Fofana is Assistant Dean of Student Affairs at David A. Straz -Sinje Technical and Vocational College of the University of Liberia and a student of the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law. She currently serves as the President of People’s Foundation Africa (PFA), an organization working for marginalized and hard-to-reach communities in Liberia and across Africa.

Before co-founding the PFA, she served the Liberian government as Assistant Minister for Youth Development, Co-Chaired Liberia’s Vision 2030, and headed the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection (MGCSP) Adolescent Girls Division. 

She holds a Graduate Certificate in International Affairs from American University in Washington, D.C. and a BA in Mass Communications, graduating cum-laude from the African Methodist Episcopal University in Liberia. Kula is an activist with interests in social and transitional justice, diversity, and feminism. She is also a farmer.

A finance professional with over 25 years of experience in strategic planning, risk management and project management in the public and private sectors, Yvonne Aki-Sawyerr was sworn in as Mayor of Freetown, Sierra Leone in May 2018. Her vision is to #TransformFreetown in order to improve the lives of the city’s residents. 

Her transformation plan is being delivered through a focus on resilience, human development, features of healthy cities and urban mobility; with the use of innovation as an underlying principle. Mayor Aki-Sawyerr’s delivery approach places a premium on community ownership, a heightened level of transparency and accountability and data-driven decision making.

She has spent more than two decades serving Sierra Leone both locally and internationally. She campaigned against the trade in ‘blood diamonds’ and advocated for ending the Sierra Leone civil war. In 1999, she co-founded the Sierra Leone War Trust (SLWT) which continues to support disadvantaged children and young people in the country.

Cornelia Kruah-Togba is a Liberian public servant and advocate for youth and women’s empowerment. She started her career in 2011 as the Youth Program Officer of the Angie Brooks International Centre for Women’s Empowerment, Leadership Development, International Peace and Security (ABIC), working on initiatives such as the Women’s Situation Room (WSR), and the UN High Level Panel in Monrovia.

In 2014, she became the Program Assistant in the President’s Delivery Unit at the Ministry of State for Presidential Affairs. She then took up an assignment as Executive Assistant to the Minister of Public Works and as Chief of Staff to the Minister of Education, a position she maintained until her departure for graduate school in May 2017. She also established the Young Women’s Empowerment Network (YOWENET) in 2017. This organization aims to build a strong network of women who would excel in their various career paths and especially in politics.

In November 2018, Cornelia ran as a candidate of the former ruling Unity Party and came 3rd out of 11 candidates for Representative of District 13, Montserrado County. She is currently a second-year student at the Louis Arthur Grimes School of Law in Liberia. She has an MA in International Politics and Economics from Kingston University in London, United Kingdom.

Fadzayi Mahere is a lawyer practicing as an advocate at the Harare Bar, having held roles at commercial law firms, the International Criminal Court, and the United Nations.

Fadzayi has worked at the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court in the Hague and for the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda. She was awarded a Pegasus Fellowship from the Honourable Society of the Inner Temple in London, which enabled her to work in various Chambers in London, including Essex Court Chambers and Doughty Street Chambers. 

In addition to her practice as an advocate, Fadzayi lectures in administrative law and property law at the University of Zimbabwe. Fadzayi was the spokesperson and a leading political activist in the #ThisFlag citizens’ movement between 2016 and 2017, where she led a political activism campaign against top government officials including the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe.

Fadzayi is also an international speaker on African development and has spoken at the Harvard African Development Conference 2017 and the University of Cape Town Zimbabwe Society.  She holds a master’s degree in International Law from the University of Cambridge and a bachelor of laws from the University of Zimbabwe. Fadzayi recently received the Hubert H. Humphrey Distinguished Leader Award and was invited by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office to participate in the International Leaders Programme.

Dagmawit Moges Bekele was appointed as Minister of Transport of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia (FDRE) in October 2018.

After studying for her bachelor’s degree in Public Administration and Development Management (PADM), she worked as a Graduate Assistant Lecturer at Addis Ababa University (AAU). She acquired her master’s degree in Public Management and Policy (MPMP) from that same department. Ms. Moges worked as General Manager of Kolfe Keranyo Sub-City and later Micro and Small Enterprises Development Head for Addis Ababa City Government. Subsequently, she worked as a Deputy Bureau Head of Addis Ababa City Government’s Trade and Industry Bureau, later worked as Deputy Bureau Head of the City Government Capacity Building Bureau, and finally was promoted to Communication Affairs Bureau Head of Addis Ababa City Government.

Before her current post, Ms. Moges served as Deputy Mayor and Communication Affairs Bureau Head of Addis Ababa City Government, Cabinet Member of the City Government, and Board Chairperson of Addis Ababa Mass Media Agency. Ms. Moges is an FDRE Cabinet Member and a Member of the House of Peoples’ Representatives of Ethiopia (HoPRE). 

Ifeyinwa Maureen Okafor Essien-Akpan, a Chartered Accountant and Governance Professional, spent the first fifteen years of her career in banking and financial services. In 2008, she joined International Packaging Industries of Nigeria Plc as Managing Director, broadening her private sector portfolio.

In 2019, Ms. Okafor was invited to join the Imo State Government as a Member of the Financial Advisory Committee, where her prudent management enabled significant reform within the Treasury and streamlined government finances. Her team was responsible for introducing the Treasury Single Account (TSA) to the state.

Ms. Okafor was also tasked with reforming student welfare services at Imo State University and was subsequently appointed to the Visitation Panel of what is now the Imo State University of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, Umuagwo. Through these roles, she spearheaded significant reform within the tertiary institutions.

Ms. Okafor has served in several professional associations including as Treasurer and Member, Governing Council, Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators of Nigeria (ICSAN), and Training Coordinator and Member, Nigerian Association of Chambers of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture Business Women Group (NAWORG).  She was a Commissioner on the Imo State Judicial Commission of Inquiry into Contracts from 2011-2019, tasked with reforming the contract award process and recovery of funds paid for contracts not executed. She has been instrumental in lifting Imo state’s position in the Ease of Doing Business rankings.

Ms. Okafor attended the University of Bradford in the United Kingdom where she graduated with a first-class degree in Law. She is an avid reader, tennis player, competitive swimmer, and mother of three children.

Isata Kabia is the Founding Director of Voice of Women Africa (VoW Africa), a network of female leaders which aims to amplify women’s voices and inspire collective action. Ms. Kabia has served as a government Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs and as the Minister of State at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation in Sierra Leone.

In 2015, she established the AFRiLOSOPHY Foundation, a social enterprise which provides young people, particularly young women, with training and job opportunities through the manufacturing of hair and body care products, teas, and oils. Through the AFRiLOSOPHY Foundation, Ms. Kabia has also assisted young people and women in starting their own enterprises.

Having worked in the Office of Diaspora Affairs since 2009, she resigned her position as Special Advisor on Diaspora Affairs in the Office of the President in 2011 to run for office as a Member of Parliament.

In 2012, Ms. Kabia became the first female member of Constituency 050, in Port Loko District. She also represented Sierra Leone in the Pan-African Parliament where she served as Rapporteur for the Committee on Education, Tourism, and Culture.

As an MP, Ms. Kabia was deeply involved in educational issues within her constituency, recognizing education as the foundation upon which development efforts must be built. Currently, her AFRiLOSOPHY Foundation works on a Rural Education Program (REP), building local primary schools.

Ms. Kabia holds an honors degree in Biochemistry and an MBA in Global Business and Impact Entrepreneurship from the University of Milan. She is an Acumen West Africa Fellow and a Vital Voices Engage Fellow.

Angèle Makombo currently serves as Counselor of the Republic and Member of the Environment and Natural Resources Commission at the Economic and Social Council of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Ms. Makombo is a Founding Member and National Chairperson of the League of Congolese Democrats (LIDEC); she was a candidate in the country’s presidential elections in 2011 and 2018.

Serving at the United Nations (UN) for nearly 24 years, Ms. Makombo has focused on conflict prevention and resolution in Africa and institution building. Ms. Makombo was a Senior Political Officer in charge of African issues in the offices of UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Ms. Makombo has a master’s degree in Law from the University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. She also graduated from the prestigious Paris Institute of Political Studies (SciencesPo), and earned her admission certificate to the Professional Training Center for Attorneys of Paris (“Centre régional de formation professionnelle des avocats” (CRFPA)). She has written numerous articles on politics and socio-economic issues in the DRC.

For 15 years, Ms. Makombo was the Chairperson of a not-for-profit organization which provided funding and support to girls from low-income families in Kinshasa, DRC to enable them to attend school.

Aïda Alassane N’Diaye-Riddick is a highly accomplished, multidisciplinary development expert with experience across a range of areas including education, health, and poverty alleviation.

She is currently serving as the Country Manager for Teaching at the Right Level Africa (TaRL Africa), a new, high-profile initiative jointly led by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) and the Indian education NGO Pratham.

Through an evidence-based approach, TaRL helps children develop basic reading and mathematics skills, opening doors to a brighter future. In this role, Aïda manages the initiative’s country team and operations and coordinates closely with the Ministry of Education.

From 2016-2018, as part of Côte d’Ivoire’s partnership with the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), Aïda led the development of the country’s $524 MCC Compact program. In this role, she was responsible for programmatic and financial management, including strategic planning, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation of program activities. She also led ongoing consultations with representatives of ministries, the private sector, civil society and development partners.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in Biology and Chemistry from the University of Hartford, and a master’s degree in Health Services Administration and Policy (MHSA, 1994) from George Washington University. She is fluently bilingual (English and French).

Dr. Yakama Manty Jones (née Mara) is an economist currently serving as the Director of Research and Delivery at the Ministry of Finance in Sierra Leone. As a sought-after consultant, Dr. Jones also lends her expertise to a variety of agencies focused on development, finance, international business, economic policy, and project management.

She is on the faculty of the Department of Economics and Commerce at Fourah Bay College, where she also earned her bachelor’s degree with honors in Economics at the age of nineteen. She has also earned post-graduate qualifications from the University of Manchester and the University of London (Queen Mary & Westfield College, Birkbeck College).

As an entrepreneur, Dr. Jones co-founded the Peninsular Innovative Group (PI Group) with her husband Herbert Durosimi Jones. The PI Group is an indigenous company operating across the shipping, manufacturing and agri-business industries in Sierra Leone, which prioritizes working with and empowering youth and women-owned businesses.

In 2016, Dr. Jones founded the Yak Jones Foundation. Promoting child literacy through reading, comprehension and quiz competitions, nationwide book clubs, and donating mobile libraries to schools in remote areas of Sierra Leone. The foundation has directly impacted thousands of children in Sierra Leone.

Dr. Jones, named one of the 50 Most Influential Young Sierra Leoneans, also features on the 100 Women in West Africa list. A TEDx speaker, she has also been invited to give talks locally and internationally by organizations such as the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), the Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford, the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change, and the World Bank on topics aligned with her research interests including education, entrepreneurship, human capital development, service delivery, and more.

Committed to lifelong learning and education, Dr. Jones has pursued executive training programs at the Harvard Kennedy School and mentors other young professionals.

Dr. Jones is also a mother of two lovely daughters, Hedya-Gold and Hedsania-Silver Jones.

Dr. Jumoke Oduwole is an academic, government advisor, and advocate. She is Special Adviser to the President of Nigeria on Ease of Doing Business. Until her appointment to this role in August 2019, Jumoke was Senior Special Assistant to the President on Industry, Trade & Investment in the Office of the Vice President. Her team is responsible for Nigeria moving up an unprecedented 39 places in the World Bank’s flagship Doing Business Report over the last three years, among other notable achievements.

She is currently on leave of absence from the Department of Jurisprudence and International Law, Faculty of Law, University of Lagos, Nigeria, where she is a Senior Lecturer.

Jumoke is a respected global thought leader in her field. She was the only African nominated onto the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Trade and Investment in 2016 and is a highly sought-after speaker. Prior to her career in academia, Jumoke led a corporate banking unit of the telecommunications sector team in Guaranty Trust Bank Plc’s Corporate Banking Group. She was an investment banker with FCMB Capital Markets Ltd from 2000 to 2003.

Jumoke graduated from University of Lagos with a bachelor’s degree in law in 1998 and was called to the Nigerian Bar in 1999. She obtained an LL.M. degree in commercial law from Cambridge University in 2000, where she was a DFID-Cambridge Commonwealth Trust Scholar. In 2007, Jumoke received a master’s degree in International Legal Studies from Stanford University and obtained her doctorate degree in International Trade and Development from Stanford Law School.

Dr. Adaeze Oreh is a Consultant Family Physician and Country Head of Planning, Research and Statistics for Nigeria’s National Blood Transfusion Service (NBTS) with over 17 years of private and public healthcare experience. Working alongside policymakers, Dr. Oreh advocates for blood policies that reduce maternal and child mortality rates, reduce the transmission of infectious diseases through unsafe blood transfusions, and improve the distribution of safely-screened blood to remote and conflict-affected communities.

Between 2009 and 2014, Dr. Oreh was the Coordinator in charge of Abuja, Nasarawa, and Niger States for NBTS, where she worked in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and the US President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Her role was critical to national policy formulation, information management, operations supervision, quality assurance, and emergency preparedness and response. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Oreh has employed her risk communications expertise, taking part in 30 interviews and publishing over 50 editorials to help educate the public on the pandemic.

A prolific writer on prevalent health and development issues in Africa, Dr. Oreh has authored publications in international, national, and local media outlets. Dr. Oreh holds a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) degree from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and Master of Science (MSc) degrees in International Health Management from Imperial College London and in Public Health from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine; in addition to Leadership, Management and Public Policy certifications from Oxford Saïd Business School, Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard

Kennedy School of Government, and the University of Washington.

She is a Fellow of the West African College of Physicians, the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, and the Royal Society of Public Health and sits on the Governing Council of Nigeria’s first private university of Medical Sciences.

Telia Urey is one of Liberia’s leading female entrepreneurs. A businesswoman, politician, and philanthropist, Ms. Urey was nominated as Female Entrepreneur of The Year at the 2019 Liberian Youth Awards.

Ms. Urey earned a Bachelor of Arts from McGill University in Political Science and Sociology. Ms. Urey’s business career began in Canada in 2009, when she established Melyke Hair and sold hair products to clients and companies internationally. In 2010, Ms. Urey went on to open The Pet Store, the first post-war veterinarian clinic in Liberia, which brought relief to many livestock farmers who were at risk of losing their animals due to the lack of veterinarian services in the country.

In 2011, Ms. Urey formed Core Investment Group (CIG in Liberia), one of Liberia’s leading real estate development companies. Ms. Urey is also the owner of the Fuzion d’Afrique Restaurant (Fuzion), ranked as fourth best restaurant in the country by TripAdvisor. Ms. Urey proudly hosts many charitable events at Fuzion.

In 2015, Ms. Urey joined the newly formed All Liberian Party (ALP), a party founded by her father, Benoni Urey. In 2019, Ms. Urey contested in a representative by-election in District 15 in Montserrado County on the ticket of the Collaborating Political Parties, coming in second place.

Ms. Urey is the Founder and Executive Director of Reach Africa International (RAI). Established in 2019, RAI is an independent research, development, and advocacy institution committed to finding innovative and sustainable solutions to human suffering in Africa. RAI’s vision is a developed Africa, where everyone—particularly children, young people, and women—lives fulfilled and poverty-free lives.

Ms. Urey’s humanitarian initiatives include a scholarship program that has aided over 700 students across Liberia from elementary school level to university level. Ms. Urey also serves on the board of the U-Foundation and has been its largest financial contributor. The U-Foundation has worked across Liberia to strengthen water and sanitation, health, education, microcredit, and agriculture in impoverished communities.

As well as her business and political acumen, Ms. Urey has been a strong face for political advocacy in Liberia. She has taken part in protests for social justice and economic change, supported civil society movements, engaged the media, and supported candidates and political campaigns in her fight for change.

Hadiza Bala Usman is the managing director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), following many years serving her country in congress and numerous public service roles.

Before her appointment as the first female Managing Director of the NPA in its 63 years of existence, Hadiza worked at the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE). She was then hired by the UNDP for the Federal Capital Territory Administration as Assistant to the Minister on project implementation. Her wide-ranging impact in these positions culminated in her appointment as the Chief of Staff to the Executive Governor of Kaduna State, again, the first female to be so appointed in that part of the country.

Hadiza is Vice President of the African Region for the International Association of Ports and Harbors (IAPH). She is currently pursuing an aggressive 25-year port development plan that would prepare the NPA for the future of the global maritime industry.

A recipient of many awards in the areas of governance, girl child education and women’s emancipation, she is also convener of the BringBackOurGirls Campaign. This is a global campaign demanding the rescue of the 279 young girls abducted from Chibok Secondary School on 15th April 2014 in Borno State, Nigeria.

Hadiza is an alumnus of Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria where she earned a bachelor’s degree (B.Sc.) in Business Administration, and of the University of Leeds where she obtained a post graduate degree in Development Studies. Her numerous accolades include being named one the Financial Times’ Most Influential Women of the Year (2014) and one of CNN’s Most Inspiring Women of the Year (2014).

Ms. Anne Mumbi Waiguru is an accomplished public servant with years of experience in economic and public policy, governance, and devolution. Prior to joining the public sector, Ms. Waiguru worked in civil society, specifically at Transparency International – Kenya where she served as a Principal Research Analyst. She also consulted for the National Council of NGOs and worked for the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC). She later worked as Assistant Vice President for Public Sector at Citi Bank in Kenya.

She served as a Technical Advisor, Public Sector Reforms in President Mwai Kibaki’s government, on secondment by the World Bank, and later by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). She then joined the National Treasury as Head of Governance, and later became Head of the Economic Stimulus Programme and the Director of Integrated Financial Management and Information System (IFMIS) between 2007 and 2012. Ms. Waiguru was named in the 2011 Top 40 Under 40 Most Influential Women in Kenya list, being the only woman in public service to receive such recognition at the time.

In 2013, Ms. Waiguru joined President Uhuru Kenyatta’s government as the first Devolution Cabinet Secretary, where she won a total of 15 awards, including the 2015 United Nations Public Service Award for her introduction of Huduma Centres, which help grant Kenyans faster access to government services. Under her tenure, public procurement reforms were initiated, which included the reservation of 30 percent of all supply contracts to the government for groups including marginalized persons, youth, persons with disability, and women as a means of helping to achieve the progressive realization of the country’s economic and social rights as espoused under Article 43 of the Constitution.

In 2017, Ms. Waiguru was elected Governor of Kirinyaga County, becoming one of only three women governors in Kenya. Four months later, she became the first woman in Kenya elected Vice Chair of the Council of Governors.

Ms. Waiguru has spoken at the 59th and 62nd Commissions on the Status of Women (CSW), and she has delivered keynote speeches at the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) including at the 74th UNGA sideline meeting in 2019 on ending Sexual Exploitation, Abuse, and Harassment. She also delivered a speech at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House in 2018 on “5 Years of Devolution in Kenya: Towards Inclusion, Gender Equality and Accountable Governance.”

Ms. Waiguru holds a master’s degree in Economic Policy from the University of Nairobi. She is married and a proud mother of three sons, Ian, Don, and Wabu.

Yawa is the Executive Director of Emerging Public Leaders, a serving member of the Board of Directors at Ashesi University College, and the Founder of the Leading Ladies’ Network. In addition, she is a Co-founder of Impact Hub Accra, and an influential speaker and author.

Prior to her current positions, she served for three years on the Foundation Board of the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Community and worked as a leadership consultant to UN Women, assisting in the development of leadership curricula to enhance the capacity of women leaders in East and Southern Africa. Additionally, Yawa served for two years as a member of the Advisory Board of the Women’s Institute for Global Leadership at Benedictine University.

In May 2012 at the World Economic Forum on Africa, Yawa was recognized as one of Africa’s Rising Leaders, and in 2016 was awarded an Eisenhower Fellowship in honor of her pioneering work nurturing emerging women leaders.

Her most recent venture has allowed her to work toward her goal of accelerating African development and economic growth through building a stronger civil service. As Executive Director of Emerging Public Leaders (EPL), Yawa works to strengthen EPL’s organizational development and expand its network of country-led programs.

Yawa gained her BSc in Business Administration from Ashesi University in Ghana, after completing honors studies at The American University of Rome in Italy. She is an alum of the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre, where she gained an MA in Gender, Peace and Security. She additionally attended the Protocol School of Washington where she certified as an International Protocol Consultant.

Tejumola Abisoye is a lawyer with experience in development finance, project management, and monitoring and evaluation. She is currently the CEO and Executive Secretary of Lagos State Employment Trust Fund (LSETF).

At LSETF, Ms. Abisoye coordinates the design and implementation of programs that address youth unemployment in Lagos State. Through her role, she has supported over 15,000 small businesses to create and sustain over 100,000 jobs, and supported the training of over 5,000 youths.

Prior to LSETF, Ms. Abisoye worked to coordinate human resources and humanitarian interventions to improve the livelihoods of communities in Lagos State through her role at not-for-profit Guiding Light Assembly. Between 2012 and 2015, Ms. Abisoye also was Programmes Director at Youth Enterprise With Innovation in Nigeria (YouWiN!), an initiative focused on promoting innovation and entrepreneurship among youth.

Ms. Abisoye earned an LLM, International Trade and Investment Law from the University of Pretoria and an LLB, Law from the University of Ibadan, where she graduated best in the Department of Private Business Law. She is an alumnus of Yale University’s Women’s Leadership Program.

Upendo Furaha Peneza is currently a Member of Parliament in the United Republic of Tanzania through the opposition party, Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (CHADEMA). She serves as a Chairperson of the Tanzania Youth Parliamentarians Forum (TYPF), which is the youth caucus in the parliament. Upendo is also a member of the technical team of the women caucus in parliament.

She is also part of a legal committee in the parliament that has secured women’s representation by law on various organizations and structures created by government and has enclosed sections for the protection of women’s rights.

Upendo is an advocate for women and girl’s rights in and out of parliament. She runs women’s empowerment programs in her constituency where she has mobilized women to form women’s savings and credit groups. In the groups, women are educated about their rights and entrepreneurial skills.

As a role model to young women in the country who aspire to leadership positions, Upendo takes part in mentorship programs for experience sharing and trainings with a roster of mentees.

Upendo holds a bachelor’s degree in Sociology through the Open University of Tanzania

Umra Omar is from Pate Island in Kenya’s Lamu Archipelago. After completing graduate school in the United States and working in Washington, DC, Ms. Omar returned to Kenya in 2010. She later learned about a life-saving medical aid project in Lamu that had been abandoned because of security concerns, which sparked her work in navigating rural health realities on the frontlines of development.

In 2015, Ms. Omar launched Safari Doctors, a community-based social enterprise founded on the belief that access to healthcare is a fundamental human right. Through the organization, she provides innovative, community-driven healthcare solutions for marginalized populations, currently reaching over 2,000 patients monthly across 24 remote villages.

In 2016, she was selected as a CNN Hero for her work. In 2017, Ms. Omar won an Africa Leaders 4 Change award, featured in Business Daily’s Top40Under40 Women list, and won the United Nations in Kenya Person of The Year award. In 2019, Ms. Omar was among three finalists for the Robert Burns Humanitarian Award. She is a 2019-2020 Aurora Forum Goodwill Ambassador and a 2019-2023 World Economic Forum Young Global Leader. She is also part of the Western Indian Ocean Conservation Leadership Initiative, is a Segal Family Foundation Africa Visionary Fellow, and was recognized as a Real Life Hero by the United Nations during the 2020 World Humanitarian Day and most recently as Kenyan National Hero on National Heroes’ Day in October 2020.

Ms. Omar is a candidate in the 2022 Lamu gubernatorial race.


The New Dawn is Liberia’s Truly Independent Newspaper Published by Searchlight Communications Inc. Established on November 16, 2009, with its first hard copy publication on January 22, 2010. The office is located on UN Drive in Monrovia Liberia. The New Dawn is bilingual (both English & French).
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