The academic community in Kumasi joined the staff and students of the Akenten Appiah-Menka University of Skills Training and Entrepreneurial Development (AAMUSTED) to undergo a workshop that sought to inspire women toaspire for leadership positions and provide insight into how to improve and help women succeed in leadership.
The Women Leadership Reflection Workshop, the fourth of women-themed activities held at the University within the first half of 2022, was jointly organised by the Carnegie African Diaspora Fellowship Programme (CADFP), the Faculty of Business Education (FBE), and the Gender Desk of AAMUSTED on July 7, 2022. It had the theme, “Women: Are You Ready to Lead? Exploring the Perception of Women Leadership among Ghanaian Professionals.”
Prof. Eunice Victoria Akoto of Henderson State University, USA, and Prof. Isaac Boateng, Dean of FBE, AAMUSTED, initiated the workshop as part of their dual-purpose 2022 CADFP project awarded for a curriculum co-development for a Master of Philosophy (MPhil.) in Public and Nonprofit Management program. The award was to also conduct women’s leadership perception research for six weeks at AAMUSTED.
Prof. Boateng, whose faculty hosted the 2022 CADFP, chaired the workshop on behalf of the Vice-Chancellorof AAMUSTED, Prof. Frederick Sarfo. He emphasised that the workshop was in line with the Vice-Chancellor’s vision for female staff of the University to rise to important positions during his tenure. That, he said, explains the various opportunities, like workshops and seminars, being created to empower women in the University.
He was hopeful that the participants would take full advantage of the opportunity to add to their knowledge and learn the ways to greatness via the experiences the speakers shared at the workshop. He advised them to participate fully in the workshop and create networks that could benefit them beyond the workshop.
In addition to various thought-provoking presentations at the workshop, the organisers administered questionnaires on the theme to gather data from the hundreds of participants for analysis to uncover the perceptions of women leadership in Ghana, identify the problems, and provide recommendations on how to resolve the identified challenges and support women leaders.
The two-time CADFP Fellow to AAMUSTED, Prof. Mrs. Akoto, an alumna of the University, currently an Associate Professor of Public Management in the USA, and the hostess of the OBRA Talk Show on Nhyira FM, Mrs. Elleanor Effe Amannor, aka Mama Effe, were the main speakers for the workshop. Both drummed home the urgent need for women to support each other in pursuing leadership positions and succeed in society.
In her speech, Prof. Akoto alluded to the exceptional performances of some women leaders worldwide. She referred to a United Nations Women Division report that praised 26 women Heads of State or Government in 24 countries as of September 1, 2021, for their innovative and effective leadership. She said being able to offer unique and fresh perspectives on the challenges faced by their countries buttresses her point about the capabilities of women leaders.
She further gave various statistics to show the gender inequality in leadership the world over, bemoaning the paltry 14.5 percent of female representation in the current Parliament of Ghana and the many challenges women grapple with in their efforts to rise to leadership positions. In her perspective, “there are capable women that can redeem the world from current crisis yet, they are sitting on the fence due to the systemic lack of support and cultural challenges in many societies.” Therefore, she called for deliberate efforts to support qualified women up the leadership ladder, citing husbands’ support for their wives as a crucial contribution.
For her part, Mama Effe asked women leaders to see themselves as unstoppable and capable of making a difference in society to deserve celebration. She cautioned women leaders not to treat their subordinates as competitors but endeavour to make a significant impact on the lives of such subordinates.
Other speakers at the workshop included Prof. Mrs. Margaret Esi Essilfie, the first female Professor of AAMUSTED and guest of honour, and a Lecturer from the Kumasi Technical University (KsTU), Dr. Patricia Darko. Other workshop facilitators included Mrs. Richmel Baaba Amanamah and Lawyer Mrs. Ohenewaa Boateng Newman of FBE, AAMUSTED.
The CADFP is a competitive programme funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York and managed by the Institute of International Education (IIE). It provides for pairing Africans in the diaspora with higher education institutions and collaborators in Africa to work together on curriculum co-development, collaborative research, graduate training, and mentoring activities, among others. The efforts are to reverse Africa’s brain drain, strengthen capacity at the host institutions, and engender mutually beneficial collaborations between universities in Africa on the one hand and those in the United States of America and Canada.