Women Leadership in Africa “a major and permanent challenge”: A Missionary’s Reflection

As various nations of Africa strive to achieve the African Union (AU) Agenda 2063, which contemplates a people-driven development approach that relies on, among other stakeholders, women, a missionary priest ministering in West Africa has decried the tendency of women on the continent to play a secondary role in the political spheres of their respective nations.

“At the dawn of presidential elections in many countries in Africa, it is once again necessary to pose the thorny (question about) the participation of women in presidential elections in our African countries,” Fr. Donald Zagore has probed in a reflection sent to ACI Africa Thursday, January 16.

While women play leading roles in politics in many other nations around the globe including “presiding over the supreme magistracy of their respective countries,” Fr. Zagore reflected, a woman “unfortunately struggles to be successful in Africa.”

“Indeed, apart from the exceptional and successful example of Ellen Johnson, the former president of Liberia, women in Africa, as in many fields, are content to play only the secondary roles in the political life of their countries, thus making the specific issue of the supreme office a men's affair,” the member of the Society of African Missions (SMA) ministering in Togo lamented.

“In Togo, for example, for the next presidential elections of February 22, 2020, no woman is running among the 10 declared candidates,” Fr. Zagore, a native of Ivory Coast observed.


In his considered opinion, “societal structures such as politics, religion and culture are sometimes real obstacles to the promotion of female leadership,” a notion the religious missionary says is reinforced by the patriarchal nature of the African society.

“African women remain enormous potentials that could bring a lot to our countries, especially to their political stability by their genius. African women are a gold mine of talent and wealth to be valued,” Fr. Zagore reflected.

To promote women leadership in Africa, the West African cleric proposes “a societal, political, religious and cultural revolution” that can “promote the richness of female leadership in Africa.”

“Our African continent would gain more from investing in female capital to promote greater and fruitful participation of women in the political life of our countries. We need to have more women like Ellen Johnson in Africa,” Fr Zagore says.

Besides Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, Africa has had other two female presidents in persons of Malawi’s Joyce Banda and Ameenah Gurib-Fakim of Mauritius. The only incumbent female president is Sahle-Work Zewde, the President of Ethiopia.

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