Posted by: ginalazenby | July 12, 2013

What would a woman-friendly government in the UK look like?

LWA group June 2009

Madelein Mkunu, Founder of Leading Women of Africa visits London in 2009

I think that is an interesting question. It’s not that the UK Government is particularly unfriendly to women – except maybe as a place to work as an MP or Minister. I’m asking because I keep hearing how South Africa has such a woman-friendly government, probably the most so in the world.

That will be a good topic for discussion when we meet Madelein Mkunu next Tuesday night in London. She is the President and Founder of Leading Women of Africa, one of Africa’s fastest growing leadership and empowerment organizations for women in leadership and business, and is in London next week (July 16th) for the third Corporate G20-Africa conference. Here she will be announcing the launch of Women in Infrastructure Development in Africa (WIDA).

“Our emphasis at the G20 conference will be to highlight the importance of African women’s inclusion and participation in conceptualizing, planning and designing of infrastructure development policies, strategies and related frameworks”, says Ms. Mkunu who is leading a delegation of 20 South African women entrepreneurs to the London conference.

Madelein Mkunu will also be our special guest at the Women’s Gathering in my London home on Tuesday July 16th … we are inviting her to share her perspectives on what women are doing in South Africa and across the African continent to improve the lives of themselves and society. It is such a rich opportunity to hear what initiatives women around the globe are taking to make the world a better place. Through her pan-African organisation, Madelein is a passionate supporter for women entrepreneurs who want to grow their businesses outside of their countries and outside Africa. She organises three to four Trade Missions a year to enable these women to expand overseas and arranges funding for them from the South African government.

When we spoke about the government in South Africa, Madelein agreed that they are very woman-friendly with good legislation that supports women but she said “It is another thing to ensure this is actually implemented. It can be slow.” Part of the work of the LWA  is to help women wake up, take charge of themselves and push the Government on its commitments.

Back in 2009, four years ago: Gina welcomes Madelein Mkunu to London and hosts an event for the LWA Founder

Back in 2009, four years ago: Gina welcomes Madelein Mkunu to London and hosts an event for the LWA Founder

I think we could do with some of that waking up here in the UK don’t you?!  Both men and women need to wake up and push the government, taking a leaf out of the South Africans’ book and seek greater inclusion and participation of women in our government affairs and processes. I’ll report back on our conversation at the Women’s Gathering. If you are a woman in London and are inspired by this conversation then do join us. BOOK HERE.

The Inspiration for founding Leading Women of Africa

Madelein Mkunu  found it necessary to create the Leading Women of Africa in order to monitor and promote the empowerment of women on the African continent.

Nearly 20 years ago,the Beijing Women’s Conference of 1995 stressed the empowerment of women as one of the central development goals of the 21st century. It adopted a Platform for Action which calls for mainstreaming gender perspectives in the design, implementation and monitoring of all policies and programmes, including development programmes.

The Platform for Action commits Countries to design specific programmes and activities in consultation with women’s groups and other non governmental organisations (NGOs) to implement the Platform for Action. The Commission on Status of Women urges governments to take all necessary measures to empower women, strengthen women’s economic independence and promote women’s full enjoyment of all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

Unfortunately, failure to incorporate gender perspectives in the design of macroeconomic policies of governments persists. Ignorance of the role of women in the structure of African households contributes to misunderstanding of women’s roles in economic growth in the world.

Pursuant to the Millennium Declaration of September 2000, governments are committed to promoting gender equity and women’s empowerment to combat poverty, hunger and diseases as well as to stimulate sustainable development. This commitment is a vital part of an effective strategy. Moreover, the World Bank emphasizes the developmental costs of ignoring women and denying them access to key resources. The World Bank urges countries to draft gender action plans. Still, there has been insufficient political will and sustained commitment to meeting the needs and interests of women.

Join us at the London Women’s Gathering on July 16th – a small group of women leaders and entrepreneurs gathering for supper and conscious conversation in a wisdom circle. Find out more and BOOK HERE.



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