At the first ever virtual SDG Action Zone 2020 – an event that takes place annually during the United Nations’ General Assembly to drive exponential change on the Sustainable Development Goals – WPL amplified women leaders’ voices and convened pressing conversations to reflect on what is needed to accelerate equality between women and men and to build a stronger, more equitable society.
The power of parity for a healthy society
In partnership with the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Presidential Center for Women and Development, WPL closed the first day of the SDG Action Zone with a bang! “The Power of Parity for a Healthy Society” closing plenary panel galvanised meaningful conversation regarding equality between women and men in leadership, in addition to offering concrete examples of how to catalyse change.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia (2006-2017) and Founder of The Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s Presidential Center for Women and Development, and Emma Theofelus, Deputy Information & Technology Minister, Member of Parliament, Namibia, shared their stories, inspiration, and experience to underscore the invaluable contribution that women bring to society as decision-makers. President Sirleaf highlighted this point eloquently:
“Women are the ones that promote education. Equality. Justice. Equal opportunity for people in society. And they bring to their task great passion, dedication, courage. Women are also bold in action. And in many cases, even in circumstances where their boldness would mean that they would become unpopular, they take those actions because it’s in the best interest of society.”
Bold leadership and immense courage are qualities that many women leaders have embodied throughout the pandemic. This includes Deputy Minister Theofelus who began her tenure, as one of the youngest political leaders on the African continent, right as COVID-19 was beginning to spread.
Minister Theofelus did not let this challenge deter her. By looking toward examples of inclusive, intelligent decision-making from her fellow women leaders, she found herself able to learn quickly and carry out her responsibilities confidently. Now, she wants to help encourage her generation as well as the next:
“To the young women, truly, around the world, on the African continent, continue to lead wherever you are. At the front of the line, in the middle, all the way at the back; in your home, in your school, in your community. Continue to lead and make your mark.”
The discussion, moderated by Nadira Hira, an award-winning journalist, and Master of Ceremony, provided a constructive space to reflect on the power of communities; the power of people; and the power of parity in leadership to drive progress toward a truly healthy society.
To achieve a better future, to build a healthier world, women need to lead. Now.
Stay tuned for the full session on demand!